The Red Lantern was one of the most promising games to be revealed in Wednesday’s Nintendo Direct. The first-person adventure tells the story of a woman determined to compete in the Iditarod until the dangers of nature get in the way.
The trailer suggests a blending of story-forward games like Firewatch with survival games like The Long Dark. We had the opportunity to speak with Timberline Studio co-founder Lindsey Rostal during Nintendo’s event at the 2019 Game Developers Conference, and she compared the player’s journey through the game to indie megahit FTL. Both games, Rostal explained, force players to make tough choices that ultimately create a unique story.
In The Red Lantern, the player will set out on the Iditarod again and again, most often failing. The game features over 100 potential events that can take place in a variety of ways and orders. For example, a bear attack might interrupt the hero’s quest. Or she might come across friendly squirrels. Or perhaps the squirrels aren’t friendly.
The dogs guide the player from one scenario to the next, with the player choosing from branching paths. The player must prioritize fighting, hunting, taking shelter, and spending resources, depending on the scenario the game serves them.
Rostal spoke about the intimacy of the adventure, particularly on Nintendo Switch. The game is meant to be challenging, punishing the player for poor choices as they get deeper into their journey. But that risk adds a tension that gives the story its stakes. She described it as the sort of game that benefits from being played in handheld mode and up close.
The Red Lantern is scheduled for release on Nintendo Switch later this year.