Let’s get straight to the elephant in the room shall we? Yes, Close to the Sun does have a few similarities to BioShock. Both games have a sort of steampunk style, and both have art nouveau stylings. They are also both first person titles with a hint of horror and an aquatic setting. There have been a lot of comparisons between the two games by various commentators, so I won’t add anything to that debate, instead I’m going to look at what Storm in a Teacup’s upcoming title brings to the table in its own right.
The game is set in an alternative past in the 1890s and sees you playing as Rose, a young journalist on a search for your sister. This search brings you to a ship complex run by Nikola Tesla, in which he has gathered some of the world’s greatest scientists in an attempt to make the world a better place by pooling some of its greatest thinkers. Naturally, as this is a videogame, the plan has not gone as well as was hoped.
Where this title sets itself apart from it’s assumed inspiration is in the gameplay style. This isn’t an FPS, but a first person adventure, and you won’t be fighting the monsters that are strewn throughout the nightmarish ship you’re exploring, you’ll be escaping them. Searching the ship for clues and solving puzzles is the order of the day here, much like in the Amnesia series. There’s a good deal of puzzle-solving to be found, and this will be the main direct interaction that you have with the world outside of exploring. You’ll be doing a great deal of that throughout, with the game being focused on exploration to reveal a deep and rich storyline.
Although there’s a very noticeable art nouveau aesthetic, there’s also a good smattering of art deco throughout, lending a rather changeable feel to the game. As you explore further throughout the brooding locale, you’ll see a much darker side than you might have initially expected. Regality gives way to reality as the truth is uncovered. That truth is mainly that everyone and everything here wants to kill you, or at least prompt a change of underwear by scaring you senseless. At least, everything that’s alive anyway, the corpses that litter the halls aren’t trying to kill you, but they certainly won’t make you feel any better about how this is going to end.
To get to that end, your mission is entirely about survival. Your sister isn’t any more keen to stay there than you are, so you need to find a way off of the ship. With zombie-like creatures and some kind of fire-breathing eyeless demon after you, that’s going to be easier said than done however. And with no weapons at your disposal, the way forward is going to involve a lot of running away and hiding.
So far, a lot of critical acclaim has been given to Close to the Sun, with the title picking up a handful of award nominations including two from Game Connection, and a semi final place at NGDC18. A new trailer has been released to coincide with this year’s gamescom, and the developers are expecting the final release in the first quarter of 2019.