Taking stories of talking animals like the Redwall Books and Winnie the Pooh as inspiration, the former animation director at Universal Studios Lionel Gallat has created a game which places you in the shoes (figuratively speaking) of a young mouse armed with little more than a lute on an island populated by towering skeletal creatures.
The alpha footage shows off a Dark Souls-esque world of grim fairy tale but the description of the game’s mechanics, provided by Gallat, makes it seem akin to Beyond Good & Evil.
I can’t escape the size difference between the mouse and the undead rats, they’re like vast lumbering golems. That moment when the mouse steps back away from the first rat, only to cross the path of a second, and looks up at the figure looming above is a wonderful touch, capturing an “Oh crumbs” moment.
In talking about the game’s story and combat, Gallat’s keen to say what Ghost of a Tale is not: “In a manner of speaking “Ghost of a Tale” will be the opposite of “Skyrim” […] “Skyrim” is not about an intimate, compelling story; it’s about a huge world where you play a nondescript character that you can mold entirely to your liking. “Ghost of a Tale” on the other hand will be infinitely smaller, with a set story in which you play precisely the character of the mouse and none other.”
Reading between the lines of what Gallat’s describing then is a game which has a single narrative arc taking place on an island which you are able to explore freely.
On the subject of combat he is keen to state that it will not share the complexity of Dark Souls, a game that it is drawing comparisons to. His reasoning for this (besides the complexity of development) is really quite rational: “you play as a mouse who (obviously) isn’t a warrior and who is thrust into a very perilous adventure. So I may in fact tone down combat A LOT to emphasize the helplessness of the mouse. Which of course means I will have to find fun and interesting alternatives to monster-bashing.” It’s this that makes me think of Beyond Good & Evil. There was a game which had you sneaking about to avoid combat a great deal and, once you did get into a fight, your attack model was relatively limited.
Gallat’s been working on the game for a year now and hopes to have it ready for release in the first half of 2014, though to continue development he’s seeking funds through an Indiegogo campaign. The money is to pay the few freelancers he’s using – the project is largely developed by Gallat but composition of the game’s score is in the hands of Jeremiah Pena – and to pay for software licenses.
Because the game is mostly a solo project, the size of the game is not going to be vast. We’ve seen with games like Dear Esther that a snapshot of a world done well is often significantly more satisfying than a sprawling but empty epic so that shouldn’t be a cause for concern. The target for the campaign is EUR45,000 and Gallat’s almost a quarter of the way there with more than a month left on the clock.