The last thing I want to do is make Danish developers Investigate North complicit with Robin Thicke – but Cloud Chamber is a game about blurred lines. Players traverse outdoor landscapes, uncovering oblique map fragments and diary extracts, astrophotography and found footage. So far, so single player PC game.
But the rolling hills are merely a “three-dimensional dataworld”, and the real game is investigating a buried scientific discovery and potential murder with other players via an attached forum.
Here’s Cloud Chamber’s conceit: the game client is merely “Crowdscape software” – and its players a small part of a fictional investigation into one of Europe’s most prestigious scientific centres: the Petersen Institute. The investigation is headed up by one Kathleen Peterson, daughter of a lady who made a mysteriously unpublicised scientific breakthrough decades ago. And who may or may not have been murdered by her husband, Kathleen’s father and the head of the institute.
A couple of the lead characters in this un-docudrama are played by people you might know: namely Game of Thrones’ Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) and Casino Royale’s Mr White (Jesper Christensen). All of the found footage is shot in live action by the team behind The Killing, which makes this a bit like the FMV games of the ‘90s (only not horrible, as you’ll see):
As for the forums? You’ll be glad for the help once you’re asked to parse family secrets and the possible existence of communicative rhythms in the fabric of space at the same time.
After uncovering hidden data fragments and story strands in the game’s 10 “dreamlike” 3D landscapes, you’ll need to work with other players to piece together interpretations of star maps, for instance, or to compare odd ambient noises in the game world.
“This collaborative, community based investigative method is the heart of Cloud Chamber,” say Investigate North. “It’s a journey into a mysterious universe, played out in the social spaces between players.”
All of this weirdness will be accompanied at points by a soundtrack from real-life proper electronic producers, like Burial and Mike Sheridan, who’ve already been intoxicated by Cloud Chamber’s unusual blend of reality and fiction.
Cloud Chamber will be out on PC and Mac before the end of the year. I do quite like the idea of using a wiki not because a PC game’s difficult to understand, for once, but because that’s part of the game. How about you?