Somehow, it seems like indie games are consistently raising the bar for both presentation and visuals. At one point, LIMBO was the top of indie art direction. Now we’ve just got a glimpse of New Zealand-based developers Wildboys Studio’s ATONE, a hand-drawn puzzle game that already has my interest peaked.
So what is ATONE? Based in Midgard — so cue the Norse Mythology — we learn that the Gods have abandoned the land (maybe killed by a certain angry demi-god?); most notably the sacred Elder Tree that Odin had promised to protect. Estra, the daughter of a slain warriors sees visions in her sleep. Even worse, she wakes up to find her father’s sacred gemstone glowing. The story follows that mystery and her adventure to protect the Elder Tree.
Gameplay is split into three equal parts: combat, puzzles, and dialogue. Estra’s story unravels throughout the game through speaking with a cast of characters and affecting decisions. Outside of the speech, puzzles keep you locked out revealing secrets, abilities, and passageways; meanwhile, the combat is rhythm based that mixes in versions of hack and slash and Guitar Hero-esque controls. Love it or hate it, the combat looks compelling in the trailer — as far as rhythm games go.
Importantly, even if the gameplay doesn’t hook you both the visuals and music will. Wildboy takes great pride in claiming everything in the game is “individually crafted” with nothing being re-used or repeated. According to the developers, the game draws inspiration from the creator of Samurai Jack and the picturesque landscape of Monument Valley (the place, not the game).
Even better, ATONE feels a bit ripped out of the 80’s with the deep purple and heavy synths in the Luminist-composed soundtrack. Influenced by Norse Mythology, the soundtrack brings in a fair amount of flutes, harps, and any other period instruments you can think of.
ATONE is launching on PC, PS4, and Xbox One sometime in 2019. For those interested, check out the game’s first trailer and a gallery of screenshots and concept art, below: