Aquamarine is an interesting little title that I had the pleasure of trying firsthand at Play NYC. It was supposed to launch on Kickstarter sometime in September, but the developer decided to hold off for a bit to finish some critical parts of the project. I had a chat with Moebial Studios' Patric Fallon about his upcoming game and its crowdfunding campaign that's set to launch on October 2.
In Aquamarine, players are taking on the role of an unfortunate astronaut who has crash-landed on an aquatic planet. Their escape pod has been separated from your ship; it's up to you to make your way through treacherous waters to reach the crash site and escape the planet.
You'll be trying to collect crystals to power your ship's engine to top off your health. Besides this essential resource, you can also find special abilities that will allow you to exercise limited defensive options against some of the planet's more hostile denizens. Check out the game's Kickstarter trailer to get a feel for the atmosphere:
The design of the submarine particularly stood out to me. "I think when it comes to underwater submarine games that have you searching and exploring [the depths], you're just always gonna have a big bubble," Mr. Fallon said in the course of our conversation. We had previously talked about Subnautica (a game I reviewed and rather enjoyed) and what influence it might have had on Aquamarine; I was surprised to find that he was aware of it but had yet to actually experience it himself. And for the older folks out there: it has no relation to The Beatles, either.
Instead, Aquamarine has been inspired by Le Monde d'Edena, a series of French comics by an artist called Moebius. "It's basically turned into our bible in a lot of ways," Mr. Fallon said. "Here's something that we want to do - let's see what Moebius would have done! Looking at that, looking at his stuff, looking at his colors, looking at his storytelling devices, looking at how he introduces unusual, completely out there aesthetics. He merges styles together really seamlessly and so there's just always something new to discover in his panels that maybe you didn't see the first couple of times reading the book."
The sort of retro sci-fi aesthetic won't just be represented by the hand-drawn art, either. With the exception of the water effects, all of the sounds in the game are being generated by synthesizers. Patric (who is formely a writer for music magazine Pitchfork) is extremely conscious of the importance of this element of game design and has put a lot of thought into it.
"We want to use [synthesizers] as a sort of way of making each sound distinctive and making each sound work in tandem with the music itself," he stated on the subject. "We're gonna have some sound effects that actually are consonant with the soundtrack of certain levels. It's almost like while the game is happening with the soundtrack over it, you're adding to it as you move and interact around the world."
Aside from the visual influence of Moebius' work, the game's lead character was inspired by something considered much more dear to Mr. Fallon: his girlfriend.
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Moebial Studios' founder Patric Fallon surrounds his workspace with imagery befitting his eclectic tastes, much of which inspires the aesthetics of his upcoming game Aquamarine. (Images provided courtesy of Moebial Studios.)
Players can expect to get an engaging, unique experience from Moebial Studios' Aquamarine. You're ultimately trying to make your way back to your ship in your dinky little escape pod so you can escape the planet you've crashed on. I asked Mr. Fallon just how long he expected that to take. He wasn't able to give me a specific hour count or anything like that, but he said that he's rather fond of shorter games like Journey or Inside that can be beaten in a couple of evenings. He's aiming to create a similar sort of short but sweet experience with his game, saying that he wants to "make 'short games' not a bad word."
What platforms can we expect to see the game on? "This is obviously our studio's first game and this is my first game that I'm actually selling for money," Mr. Fallon said towards the end of our chat. "Because of that, I'm trying to keep everything real tight. That includes what platforms I want to plan this for. I know how to make a PC game, so that's what I'm gonna do. And if people like it there or I run into an extremely progressive-thinking and generous that is like, 'Hey, we want to bring [Aquamarine to the Nintendo Switch]!', then I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Hopefully, they'll just pay someone to port it for me."
Moebial Studios has a "generous estimate" of April 2019 for the release of Aquamarine. You'll be able to pledge to its Kickstarter campaign on October 2, 2018.
What do you think of Aquamarine? Does the aesthetics of the game appeal to you? Let us know in the comments below!