“If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the American Indians.” That quote belongs, unfortunately, to one of the greatest minds of our age, Stephen Hawking. It’s not an uncommon sentiment, of course; popular entertainment has been driving home this idea since Orson Welles’ famous War of the Worlds (1938) broadcast. And it’s Welles that has clear influence on the visuals of Somerville, an upcoming sci-fi game: huge black monoliths loom over a rural community, spitting out all manner of neon terrors to hunt down the populace.
Somerville is to have an episodic narrative—perhaps not the only parallel its makes with Kentucky Route Zero (2013)—about John E. Somerville, an author who rises to prominence over the course of an alien invasion. The game is being developed by Chris Olsen, formerly an animator for feature films, games, and television. On this project, he wears many hats, including lead designer and writer, but the development blog is full of lovely examples of kinesis. Look at the way these little alien drones bob and zip through the air:
Or watch the way this grazing deer is startled, before taking off:
Olsen clearly has an eye for detail when it comes to bodies in motion. It’s a skillset that suits the platformer well, meaning that with his crack animation, Somerville shouldn’t only look good, but feel good too. Look at the way the gravity, momentum, and character-oriented physics come together in this jump:
That shit’s hypnotic. I could watch it all day, so I’m definitely looking forward to getting the chance to dive in and move around.
Somerville doesn’t have a release date just yet, but you can follow its development on Olsen’s blog here.