Toying with the innate human fear of the unknown, CrackerJack Games’ new title Under Earth will offer players a piece of “interactive fiction” to test their lateral thinking, creativity, and survival skills as they release their beta version. The game sees a sudden, unexplained fault in a research facility based 40 miles underground and enlists your services to assess the situation and launch a full recovery of the facility itself and the workers with whom communication is suspiciously silent. Through a first person game perspective with multi-layered puzzle adventures, the label of “interactive fiction” sounds fitting for what we already know about the game. With no violence or shooting in the storyline, focus is more on your skill in thinking your way out of a situation, or into one, depending on your goals.
Interactivity, however, is something of a sore spot in the gaming community at the moment with outrage over the limited ability to work with the environment of The Order: 1886. Hopefully, this game will provide players the interaction they crave, with the ability to pick up and use any object within the game’s setting. This would certainly be a much more appealing notion, offering the opportunity for trial-and-error game-play that the story seems to suggest, than only being able to interact with elements of your surroundings that you are supposed to.
Essentially, the game revolves around the gathering of information about the incident with a healthy load of exploration and narrative. In fact, the general impression of the game is largely narrative based. It seems that a lot of work has gone into the focus on developing an engaging, gratifying storyline that takes the title away from the traditional notion of the “video-game” and more into the developers’ “interactive fiction” label.
CrackerJack Games have suggested that after you’ve got all the info, it’s up to the player to decide how to proceed. This begs questions concerning how much of this element of game-play will actually be player oriented. Will it in fact just be a linear storyline in terms of the actual rescue, or will the game actually respond to players’ decisions?
Incorporating real-world engineering and scientific concepts into play will make for an interestingly intricate design. This, combined with the suggested lack of weaponry, is indicative of a game much more focussed on creative thought; evading harm by spending more time thinking laterally rather than blindly shooting. If it lives up to its expectations, Under Earth should offer a refreshing first person action game that doesn’t follow the current trend of relying solely on gunfire and erratic violence.
Under Earth is currently posted on Indiedb and Steam.