To The Green is our weekly look at one game on Steam Greenlight trying to get onto Steam. With To The Green, we hope to highlight one worthy game each week that is attempting to get greenlit and let you decide if it is something you’d be interested in trying out.
Have you ever wanted to play a game where death was relevant? A game where people reacted to what happened to those around them?
If so, then Vidar may well be a game that interests you.
Set in the fallen capital of a once powerful empire, the village of Vidar has been under siege for the last few months. A mysterious Beast of some sort has been killing off a person each night, while snow blocks off the passes and stops anyone from leaving or coming. That was until the player character, The Stranger, arrives as an exception to the rule.
There are 24 people left as you arrive, and each one of them has a tale. Many of them are of tragedy, some are of hope, and some even hint at redemption. Each person has their own goals and ideas of how to deal with it… and their own reactions to what happens around them. And each night unless you can solve the mystery of the Beast, one of them will die.
When they die, the town reacts – each person in their own way. Perhaps the priest will lose his faith over the death of his best friend, or the last remaining guard will give up because his idol has died. Vidar deals with tragedy on a personal and larger level as you see the people who barely knew a person react as well as those who depended on them - perhaps more then they ever knew.
Vidar seeks to tell its story on a very low key note as it is in many ways a story about individuals and the people they live with. It wants to let you meet these people and see how they react to the situation that unfolds, as the deaths mount up. The order characters die in is random each game, making each one a different playthrough from both how people will react, but also in things like town events and quests that are available.
Every NPC in Vidar is also a quest giver of some sort, though their quests can, and do change depending on what happens - perhaps even disappear in some situations due to losing hope. In part of the idea of making each game play differently, the rewards often grant gameplay benefits, like extra time to solve things, having a journal, teleportation, and many other things. By making these things rewards for quests, it changes the game play each time because different characters will die, therefore, the same quests will not always be available.
Beyond its deep grasp of emergent stories with characters reacting to the world and actions around them, Vidar’s core gameplay is found in puzzles. There is no action stuff that a lot of people would expect from an RPG but instead you solve puzzles in various dungeon terrains. Puzzles are generated in up to 4 different terrain types inside the beast's cave and draw from a set of puzzles and rooms that mix and match the way they work to generate different situations each time. Even within the same puzzle/room combination the spaces may be moved around causing slight differences in how to solve the puzzle.
From a mechanical standpoint, replayability is one of the big things in Vidar. Even playing the short demo can lead to a lot of different outcomes and options available depending on who was killed and who wasn't so far. The way the story shapes depends on which quests you do, and who dies as you are only one of two main forces driving the story (the other being the murderous Beast). As mentioned, a lot of quests give gameplay benefits which can impact the style of play that you have in any given game, though this isn't visible in the demo.
Beyond the various puzzles in the caves that you do each day, there are also town events that can occur when certain situations have been reached. These are normally a mixture of deaths, choices, and quests done that result in something coming up. An example provided in the demo is a fire that can happen to one house. This only happens if Etel, a townguard, Elek, the alchemist, and Dorottya the blacksmith are all dead. These people might have averted disaster – by spotting an issue with the lanterns, replacing the oil and thus spotting the issue, or repairing it all – dying means that it is possible for a fire to go out of control and destroy someone’s house.
There are a lot of ways to avert that story if you are paying attention and listen to what people’s concerns are, but it means not dealing with another concern, and of course the wrong person could die at night. In the end, you don’t have total control of the story, but do have a strong influence upon it.
I’ll confess here that having played the Vidar demo and talking with the developer of the game, that if there was one game I could ask that you vote yes on Greenlight for, and support on Kickstarter, this would be it. This is a game that is approaching storytelling in a different manner than others do, and it does so in an intelligent, thought provoking manner and mixes it with solid puzzle design game play.
If you want to find out more, you can check out the Vidar website, their Kickstarter, and their Greenlight page, or check out our upcoming interview (now up!) with the developer. The website has the short demo, and you can also check out the trailer below:
What do you think of Vidar? Know a game you think we should look at? Tell us in the comments below or email [email protected]