Rocketwerkz’ Living Dark is an upcoming neo-noir 3D role-playing game set in a not-quite cyberpunk society. The futuristic setting sports the typical drone surveillance, bevy of robotic police forces, and a typical anti-authoritarian terrorist organization that isn’t afraid to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.
There’s a series of vignettes that help setup the game’s world, starting with a look at the F.T.S., the anti-authoritarian terrorist organization I just mentioned. You can check out the trailer below.
The second trailer focuses on a drug compound, giving gamers a glimpse at the warehouse where the drugs are being made. Things don’t stay too peaceful for long when the cybernetic police force shows up with weapons on the ready and blood lust in their eyes.
The third trailer is called Algo Azul, and it seems benign enough just until you realize that the character that the trailer focuses on isn’t quite right.
This trailer actually gives gamers a look at the cyberpunk elements and how they might play out in Living Dark. The ending to the trailer reveals that there will be some supernatural elements present in the game.
There’s a smorgasbord of pulchritudinous screenshots the likes of which will make a lot of gamers ooze secretions from the submandibular gland like millennials watching a Sunday afternoon marathon of Baywatch back during the 1990s before internet speeds put television sex-appeal out of business.
I mean, just check out the screen captures below running in-engine.
Those are some breathtaking shots.
Creative director Rashad Redic has a number of other screenshots and vignettes available over on his ArtStation page.
But the real hook for Living Dark isn’t just in its beautiful cityscapes and grounded take on a futuristic society, it’s that the team have decided to develop a procedural narrative around player choices and interactions in order to give each gamer their own unique tale to tell in Living Dark. This is accomplished through NPCs having their own daily routines and lives outside of how players interact with them, not unlike how Warhorse Studios designed the NPCs in Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
According to Redic, the procedural narrative design is basically going to be themed closer to the likes of Maxis’ The Sims, but with a satisfying dose of violence. The purpose of procedural narratives is so that players will engage with the world and make decisions based on the ebb and flow of the character personalities that they encounter, and how both the player decisions and NPC decisions will unravel the narrative in different ways.
They’ve been publishing progress on the project via YouTube, and it looks like – based on one of the developer diaries published back in January, 2018 – the game is going to be about two years out from release at their current schedule. It’s only an 11 person studio, so it will take time. Their most recent video gives a look at the progress of exploration and the design philosophy behind exploration in Living Dark. You can check that out below, courtesy of the Living Dark YouTube page.
The procedural elements extend beyond the narrative… it also applies to some of the design techniques for the levels and buildings. Certain story-specific structures and places of interest have been hand-made in order to get a very specific look and feel, while other places like apartment buildings and rooms inside those apartment buildings have a procedural design so that they can populate the city with a random selection of different buildings and motifs.
If they can nail down a solid gameplay loop, get that procedural narrative flow chart under control, and ensure that the crowning achievement of their aesthetically poignant world isn’t just a background character to the player’s antics then I think they could have a real winner on their hands with Living Dark.
There’s no solid ETA on when it’ll be out but it’s still in development. Hopefully Rocketwerkz doesn’t pull a DayZ on the project and leave it in the dust.