Australian hip-hop stoner noir. This is a sentence I never knew I needed in my life. However, when asked if we wanted to get a first look at Stone, a game that indeed contains some Australian hip-hop stoner noir, I knew I needed to take a look. I got a chance to play about thirty minutes of this weird adventure, and I came away quite happy that I did.
The preview opens up with Stone, an anthropomorphic koala, waking up and receiving a phone call from a mysterious man proclaiming his life to be over. In addition to this, Stone's partner Alex has gone missing. What did Stone do to deserve this? Why is Alex missing? What happened last night? All these questions need answers, so Stone sets off to learn more. Well, once he figures out where on Earth his keys are.
Here's where I took control, allowing me to move Stone around his house and interact with things. I found quite a bit I could play with right away, mostly in the living room. Stone can mess with his electronic drum set, dial a friend over the phone, or play some beats on the record player. Perhaps my favorite thing to interact with is the television. If I so desired, I could watch the entirety of an Australian silent film. It was just there in the game, reminding me quite a bit of The Darkness' decision to include the entirety of To Kill a Mockingbird. Little things like this helped draw me into Stone's world, and clever writing made me laugh with each new joke.
Of course, I did have the goal to try and figure out what happened to Alex. As he wanders, Stone came across a matchbox that points him to a local bar. He also found his keys in the sink, which only adds to the question of what on Earth happened last night. Despite this, this is a clue and gives Stone a new location to check out.
Upon entering, the bar's owner Cockie immediately confronts him. She seems to have a real hate-on for Stone. What did Stone do to inspire such hate? Well, I'm not sure, but it sure made for a fun dynamic. Here I was given two options of how Stone could interact with Cockie: "soft touch" or "hard touch". The soft touch saw Stone being polite and trying to work with her, while the hard touch involved swears and insults. Either way, Cockie isn't quite ready to cooperate.
At this point I wandered around Cockie's bar, interacting with objects with either a soft touch to appeal to Cockie, or a hard touch to annoy her. Doing this can allow me to charm Cockie into giving up information as to where Alex is, or just annoy her so much she gives it up on the spot. I was told that there aren't branching story paths, but these little changes give Stone some flavor.
Thanks to the jukebox in the bar, I also noticed the game's licensed soundtrack. Stone features songs from up and coming bands and producers, such as Ryan Little and Ilkka S. It helps further the game's hip-hop tones, though there is also some house music and techno. The entire game uses a licensed soundtrack, and I assume the list of songs will be quite large. After all, I've already heard five songs during my short preview session.
The last location in the demo is a nightclub. Here, Stone confronted a trio of foxes, who make up an English boy band. There was an implication that Stone did something to them last night, but it's clear he doesn't remember what. After a brief argument, Stone tries to leave the club. Instead, one of the foxes punch him and convince him to come with them. Where are they going? What did Stone do to them? What happened to Alex? Well, I'll have to wait for the full game to find out.
I came away from Stone rather entertained. It has a sense of style that really grew on me and made me more than ready to see the full game. More than that, it's absolutely hilarious. I found myself laughing several times during the demo, and I could see the full game being just as entertaining. I'll be keeping an eye on Stone, and immersing myself in some stoner noir to tide me over until its release in Fall.
Stone was previewed on PC using a preview build provided by the developer. The game will launch in Fall 2018.