Yesterday at Microsoft’s ID@Xbox booth, we saw developer-driven demos for Nero and Get Even, two games that blend elements of the currently en vogue "first person exploration" genre and more traditional gameplay.
Nero is a "Next-gen visual novel" from Rome-based Storm in a Teacup. The game is set in a dark, forested world, tinged with neon and full of bizarre sights — a mysterious robed figure followed us everywhere, lights and orbs tantalized us from afar, and bits of otherworldly scenery, like neon jellyfish in hanging lanterns.
"Story is the focus, but the game is full of puzzles," said developer Carlo Biachi. "You receive a piece of narration for each puzzle you solve."
"The key words are spirituality and meditation," said Biachi, describing the tone of the game. The team at Storm in a Teacup want players to get lost in the world and the narrative.
"Even when you switch off your console, we want you to be thinking about the game," he said.
Get Even is more action-oriented, but retains much of the flavor of a first-person exploration game. The player explores the lead character's memories in order to solve mysteries and progress in the game.
"You’re dropped into your memories, but you need to escape," explained Kamil Bilczynski, art director and lead designer at developer The Farm 51.
In the demo, the player used a cell phone to scan a grimy crime scene for clues. When we discovered new evidence, we were able to access new parts of the memory itself. Finding the place where a person was shot allowed us to see a slow-motion recreation of the bullet that shot him. Once we saw his face, we were able to access another memory, and so on. This section looked a bit like a higher-tech version of LA Noire or Murdered: Soul Suspect.
There are shooter elements as well, shown briefly during our demo, but Bilczynski noted that the team is thinking of the game as "first-person action" rather than "first-person shooter."
Both games appear to make use of the first person perspective to make their respective stories feel more immediate and personal. While the tone couldn't be more different in the two titles, both seemed like natural evolutionary paths for the fledgling genre.
Nero is due out in the first quarter of 2015. Get Even is scheduled for 2015.