A revolution-wrecked port city. An enthusiastic policeman out of his depth. “Neither fantasy, history, nor any kind of -punk.” Helmed by a “chronically success-impaired” science-fiction writer and describing itself as a combination of Planescape: Torment (1999), Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Kentucky Route Zero (2013), it’s a game about “being a total failure.” The first question on the developer’s FAQ is, “Is this a joke?”
“No, it’s not,” says Estonian developer Fortress Occident. “It’s a real game. We’re making it.” And for the debut project of a studio that’s only been around since October, No Truce With The Furies is looking good.
The isometric RPG has been going through a passionate, if quiet, revival in the past few years. Obsidian Entertainment, final resting place of most of the Black Isle developers that worked on the original Fallout (1997), created Pillars of Eternity (2015), a nostalgic callback to their Infinity Engine-powered past—at the time it was the most successful Kickstarted game ever. Tyranny, their next game, looks to the same inspirations. Even the long-dead Fallout predecessor Wasteland (1988) was resurrected in 2014 to a lot of noise and then radio silence. No Truce With The Furies comes from the same stock—I did a double-take at the first screenshot because, wow, I didn’t think Fallout ever looked that good—but it has no desire to confine itself to fantasy or the post-apocalypse. Fortress Occident are doing something all their own.
The setting has taken 15 years to develop, or so their website says, and it’s been dubbed “fantastic realism” by a novel set in the same universe. The world building so far is intense: it takes place in the city of Revachol, which seems to be a run-down coastal melting pot of cultures that could be analogues to any number of modern countries. They describe “Semenine” immigrants that bring their own architecture and (techno!) music to the city, a “Mesque” district with gangbangers that wear mesh wifebeaters, and lingering structures described as “Havana-esque” being demolished to make way for an ever-expanding commercial port. They specify that Martinaise, the neighborhood where No Truce With The Furies is set, is still recovering from war. It’s scarred into the houses and the landscape, locals constructing humbler buildings on top of the ruins to start all over again. Having gone through their share of uprisings, wars, and rebuildings, it’s no wonder such foundational commentary is coming out of Estonia. It couldn’t be more different from Fallout’s nuclear Americana.
That being said, No Truce With The Furies looks like the opposite of a dark game. You play a bumbling, incompetent police officer sent from a wealthier district into Martinaise, thinking of yourself more like a rock star than a law enforcement officer and waiting, for some reason, for an event called the “Tequila Sunrise.” Fortress Occident wants to focus on narrative instead of combat, which they elaborated on in a recent blog post, being far past the point where the words come easily. They describe the endless press of games writing as “the damn landing of Normandy; taking it by force.” But they don’t seem concerned; delays will happen as they happen, and since they’ve steered clear of Kickstarter or other crowdfunding, they’re not stuck to a release date. Right now, it should be out by the end of 2016.
No Truce With The Furies is Fortress Occidental’s mainstage debut, short-form preparation for something bigger and better coming up in the future. Compared to their eventual ambitions, it’s small-scale. But you wouldn’t know that from looking at it.