Sam Barlow, co-creator of Silent Hill Shattered Memories, Her Story, and Immortality, tells PCGamesN that a 3D, third-person story game he was formerly working on may in fact still be coming – and that it might take its cues from subverting genre tropes established by God of War, Uncharted, and The Last of Us.
Speaking exclusively to PCGamesN, live from the San Francisco show floor of this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC), Barlow explains how the project was initially shelved during the development of Immortality, but might be coming out of storage.
“It was paused during Immortality,” Barlow says. “It may be unpaused. With the 3D game, the conceit allowed us to be like, ‘hey, it’s a third person, character-driven action game.’ There’s movement through space; there’s exploration. But it’s not a game where the story is going to go ‘A,B,C.’”
Barlow explains how the unnamed 3D game would deliver a story “non-linearly,” using lessons from Immortality to write and explore narrative using a form different from recent plot-driven games like The Last of Us and God of War.
“It wouldn’t be like – as I understand them – games like God of War or Uncharted, which are deeply immersed in the idea of movies and stories,” Barlow says. “They have the act breakdowns. They do five acts. And something like Last of Us translates directly to an HBO show, because they were treating it like when they made it.
“So the thing that was very different about this idea [the unnamed 3D game] was to say ‘actually, we don’t need any of that.’ The big trick with Immortality and the previous games was to treat the story like you would treat the planet in a Metroid game. You don’t experience that planet linearly. You benefit from backtracking through it – you kind of learn and build a mental model of it. The interesting stuff is in your imagination.”
Barlow also offers some finer details on how this game may work, describing how it eschews the typical ‘branching narrative’ structure of some story or choice-driven games in favour of “breadth.”
“It’s not a branching narrative,” he says. “It’s not about causality. It’s not about a plot where you just get to, like, change the train tracks. It’s about having a narrative where you’re getting to explore a breadth of story content.”
PCGamesN will shortly bring you an in-depth exclusive interview with Sam Barlow, covering all of his previous work and plans for the future. In the meantime, we are reporting live from the show floor at GDC, with more news about upcoming games, big reveals, and the greatest hits of 2023 on its way.