Death Inc., a strategy game about spreading the bubonic plague, was announced today by Ambient Studios.
The Guildford, U.K.-based company, which is composed of developers formerly employed by LittleBigPlanet studio Media Molecule, Burnout maker Criterion Games and Fable developer Lionhead Studios, plans to launch a Kickstarter drive for the title Feb. 4.
Death Inc. is set during the 1660s in England, with the player taking the role of an enterprising reaper and looking to spread the Black Death. Grim T. Livingstone, the protagonist, quits his job at the Ministry of Mortality and founds Death, Inc., a startup focused on dealing death and doing it right.
Livingstone sets out to infect the citizens of 17th-century England with the plague, which is accomplished by drawing trails on the game map with a mouse for infested rats to follow, a la the Pied Piper. He also has to collect their souls, but none of it will be easy, since humans have the pesky quality of doing their best to fight off death.
Ambient Studios was founded in 2011 by LittleBigPlanet developers Jonny Hopper and Daniel Leaver. In an interview with Eurogamer, Hopper said the company's first game was a PlayStation Vita title that Sony canceled after a year of development when "it came to a mismatch of expectations of what we wanted to deliver and what we could deliver and what they wanted." The 11-man team explored outside funding for Death Inc. but eventually decided to try Kickstarter; the studio is also working on a self-funded iPad title set for release in March.
Death Inc. won't feature user-generated content akin to the LittleBigPlanet series; Ambient toyed with the idea, but realized, "It felt like we would be shoehorning it in," according to Hopper. The game is being developed in the Unity engine on Windows PC and Mac, although one of the Kickstarter campaign's stretch goals is a tablet version. Ambient will seek to raise £300,000 for the single-player version of the game, and plan to launch the title in September or October.
You can check out some concept art from Death Inc. above.