Somerville is a new title that marks the debut of indie developer Jumpship. This game tells the story of a small family that is comprised of a man, a woman, a small child, and a dog trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic setting. This tale takes place on Earth while there is a strange alien presence destroying civilization. Similar to War of the Worlds, this premise focuses on everyday people trying to overcome crushing odds. With the design being an animated painting in many ways, this game has a dreamlike quality that is similar to other indie titles. The overall plot of this game is shrouded in mystery and this is the goal of the developers. The storytelling for this title will be a little more nuanced and players with keen eyes will be able to unfold the plot through pure environmental narration. Telling a plot this way is a difficult task, yet ultimately it always makes for a more poignant story. There won’t be any dialogue or voiceovers in this game. Everything will be told strictly through level design and character behaviors.
With such games out there like Limbo, there is quite a passionate consumer base that likes these games. Sometimes, less can indeed be more. Somerville appears to be an epic story, that spans across the countryside. Society is in the process of being torn down and players must venture out into the wilds and brave the unknown. The alien visitors obviously want something from Earth and, ultimately, the players will find out what it is during this game’s climax. Even though this game has similar aesthetics to other titles, it is not quite what gamers think it is. This title is actually a very different animal apart from its kin. It may have some fast-paced action in it, sure but there is more than what meets the eye here.
At first glance, Somerville appears to be an action-puzzler that is akin to Planet of Lana and other titles. Although this may be a fair assessment based on what was shown on the trailer, the developers say otherwise. This game starts off with the main character being separated from his family. An Earth-shattering event took the everyday life of humankind and has turned it upside down. Towns have been torn apart, the urban landscape marred and people’s loved ones have been ripped away from their arms. Therefore, the first thing players will need to do is find their spouse, child, and pet before progressing through the story. This game has the same vibe that several other indie titles have, however, this particular one is actually a very unique hybrid of genres stitched together.
Even the developers can’t find the correct label on what to call Somerville. There may be hints of it being a platformer, action-puzzler, and maybe horror. However, this game has evolved to be something unique altogether. The best way to describe that game is it being a “sci-fi adventure.” This is a common occurrence in video game development. Sometimes a project starts with a specific vision, only to have it morph into something else entirely. Based on what was shown in the trailer, this game will be played from a third-person perspective, shifting to being a 2D game during certain sequences. One scene, in particular, showed the main character being chased by some mechanic alien menace. Once he hit a dead end, the enemy was tackled by some friendly creature.
It also looks like the level design is rather large and brimming with places to explore. The protagonist is seen using a variety of tools during the trailer. This speculates that there will be some kind of inventory menu to use. Most likely, a survival-horror element may be a factor with Somerville. Using a flare to light up a dark cave, using scuba gear to traverse underwater, and finding things to manipulate the environment all appear to be gameplay mechanics. Everything from ruins of a city, forests, dusty fields, a shopping mall, and caverns will be areas that players will explore. Given that players will start off playing as the man, it is not clear whether or not players will control other members of the family. It seems to make sense that controlling other characters that have their own attributes will be an element of the game.
Perhaps it’ll be possible to use the main protagonist to ask the other characters to do something, having them being controlled by A.I. As of right now, nothing has been solidified by the developers. This story seems to span across many locations that each offer different challenges. One scene showcased the husband and wife running for their lives while giant pillars slammed down from the sky around them. Moment of chaos will ensue along with places of tranquility. Also, there will apparently be some friendly NPCs that will help out the family during their journey. A moment during the trailer showed a soldier giving them back up while they were running away from a threat. So, evidently, Someville won’t be a barren landscape. There will be other characters to meet throughout the course of the story.
Despite the fact that Somerville has been in development since 2018, there is still very little to know about this game. At this point, it’s clear that this is how the developers like it. There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, a little mystery and curiosity are enough to goad people to try out new products. As of right now, this title is slated to be released sometime in 2022. It has been a long time coming for this new indie and hopefully players out there will check it out and see what it is all about. Considering that the developers can’t even pinpoint how to categorize this, there may be a whole new genre waiting in our midst. Until then, gamers will need to wait a little longer before they get their hands on this IP. Somerville will be playable on PC and Xbox upon release.