In the Valley of Gods Has Hooked Me With Its Intriguing Story in 2019
With a story that's set in Egypt in the early 1920s, I can't wait to see the narrative that unfolds in Campo Santo's In the Valley of Gods.
When I was asked to pick only one title that I am looking forward to that’s due to be launching in 2019, I had to narrow my anticipated list down hugely. I was going to say that I was excited to shred some decks in Session, but I also want to sail the seas in Skull and Bones, and I wanted to kick some rats in A Plague Tale: Innocence. Instead, I’m choosing a game that was announced back in 2017 during The Game Awards, and a game I haven’t stopped thinking about since: In the Valley of Gods by Campo Santo.
Campo Santo was acquired by Valve back in April of 2018 and the developer’s previous title, Firewatch, was incredible to look at and felt interesting to play. Then again, Campo Santo was created by former developers from Telltale’s The Walking Dead and Mark of the Ninja, games that I’ve enjoyed hugely in the past.
In Firewatch, you build a connection to a voice within a walkie-talkie and follow a wonderfully-constructed narrative. The only downside I found to this was that you lacked the physical presence that can bring forth body language and emotional cues that sometimes can’t be told through dialogue alone. As a result, Firewatch felt more like I was focusing on the sights of the world around me rather than marveling at the connection building between the protagonist and the voice. So finding out that the studio’s next title is set to bring two characters on an adventure together got me internally screaming with glee.
In the Valley of Gods is said to be set in 1923 where the player controls Rashida, a former explorer and filmmaker who attempts to uncover an archeological marvel, the tomb of Nefertiti. Finding the tomb requires working alongside a colleague you once vowed to never work with again. Instantly, I was hooked due to the fact that Egyptian history and filmmaking are two of my all-time favorite topics, on top of that the world premiere trailer showed off a stunning art style that embedded itself within my mind.
Filmmaking is something I spent about eleven years of my life studying and perfecting, so being informed that the player will be using a 35mm film camera to document the world and story around you is something that got me feeling all giddy. The trailer we saw in 2017 seems to show the characters rushing to get a sunrise shot over the Egyptian landscape, which kind of makes me feel as if the game will have you progressing to key points in the map to get the best shot. Although it feels, at least to me, that the exploration will be entirely linear, maybe with some branching paths depending on possible choices. After all, tombs are fairly point A to point B, aren’t they?
As it happens, PC Gamer interviewed Campo Santo earlier in 2018 and was told that the camera elements had been put to the side to focus on character development. There’s also mention in that interview about the exploration being slow, which also intrigues me. I originally picked up Assassin’s Creed Origins purely to jump into free-roam and explore the pyramids, but sadly there wasn’t much joy and it felt more like wandering through than exploring.
The other main selling point for me here is that there is clearly going to be tension between the two characters due to describing the other character as someone “you vowed never to work with again.” So there’s a huge opportunity for some incredible dialogue and moments where the past interferes with the present.
I’m interested in finding out just how these choices you can apparently make throughout the story affects how successful the documentary becomes at the end. Could we see a badly-edited together production be born from arguments and tension? Could we see a masterpiece that grew from a friendship reborn?
I adore video games that successfully describe past events through the use of dialogue and emotion alone. Off the top of my head, game moments such as Max and Chloe’s conversations in Life is Strange, and even Arthur Morgan’s history when he opens up to other characters in Red Dead Redemption 2. If In the Valley of Gods succeeds in creating a strong sense of character development, then I’m going to love it. On top of that, the musical score for Firewatch gives me incredibly high hopes for the soundtrack to this game, especially being set in the 1920s in such a dramatic and exotic setting.
At the moment, In the Valley of Gods is confirmed to be arriving on PC through Steam sometime in 2019. But the fact that Campo Santo has released Firewatch on Xbox One, PS4, and more recently the Nintendo Switch means there’s a good chance we could see it being a multi-platform title. At least I hope so. It’s certainly a game I’m really excited to see land in 2019 both for its gameplay and story. If you did miss the world premiere trailer and want to know what the game looks like, you can watch it below.