I do very much have a soft spot for games with unique or interesting art styles, so I was immediately wowed by the visuals in the trailer for Anew: The Distant Light.
Set on what looks to be a huge and captivating alien world, it’s a stunning and seamless mixture of comic-bookish hand-drawn 2D environments and textures combined with 3D character models, layouts, and visual effects. The dreamy multi-plane landscapes are illuminated with fabulous neon colours and dramatic lightning, and there’s a real sense of scale and wonder to the richly-detailed locales and backdrops.
There are crystal-encrusted caverns, asteroid fields, mysterious alien structures and cities, ancient mines and arcane machinery, all framed against the moon’s gloomy core or fanastic-looking stars, planets and nebulas. Not to mention all the weird and wonderful creatures to interact with or murder – menacing robots and drones, colourful flora and fauna, abyss-like sea creatures, glowing energy-based entities, magnificent alien warriors, and, of course, triangles with legs.
But Anew: The Distant Light promises more than just delicious eye candy. Developers Steve Copeland and Jeff Spoonhower (aka Resonator), who between them can boast having worked on the Command & Conquer, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Borderlands, BioShock, and Saints Row franchises, intend on delivering deep and evolving Metroidvania-type gameplay with a strong narrative and cinematic storytelling. Or in their own words:
Anew: The Distant Light is an open-world, action-exploration game for PC and console platforms. You are a child with limited resources, waking up on a distant alien moon, 20 light years from Earth. You must carry out a mission of critical importance. Battle, puzzle, and journey through an exotic and dangerous world. Seek out game-changing equipment, upgrades, vehicles, and companions to expand your options for combat and exploration.
The trailer certainly suggests we can look forward to fast and fluid gameplay with lots of action and exploration to sink your teeth into – frantic but nuanced combat, physics and environmental puzzles, classic 2D platforming, and expansive levels. And there looks to be tonnes of gear to unlock and mess around with, including giant mechs (brutal!) and other controllable vehicles.
Another notable is feature is the day/night cycles, with changing weather and atmospheric conditions (including a burning-hot sun) that will “modify gameplay in interesting ways that affect pacing and tactical decisions”.
I’m also particularly intrigued by the storyline and how Resonator hope to convey it through gameplay, visuals, sound design and music, as opposed to “lengthy blocks of text, mission logs, and voice-over dialogue”. The game will see you launched into space as just a wee nipper, awaking from cyrosleep as a young adult on an unknown alien moon. You’re unsure of where you are, who you are, why you’re here and what happened to your fellow traveller. It certainly sounds as mysterious as it is ambitious.
Anew: The Distant Light has been in development for several years and is currently seeking funding over on Kickstarter to help get the game finished. Resonator conservatively anticipate a summer 2018 release on PC first, then later Xbox One and PS4. Higher tier rewards include exclusive in-game cosmetic items, signed postcards and posters, and the opportunity to voice a character and design a puzzle or encounter.