Last week, I headed to Alta studio in Sydney to play A Township Tale and man, I had a blast. The game is an open-world, sandbox, social VR multiplayer experience but even that description doesn’t accurately represent the extensive potential that this game holds. The basic premise of the game is one of survival but not to the normal standard; the game aims at satisfying the needs of humans in its simplicity and adding to that as a players needs expand. You explore a village that time has forgotten using resources to survive to add your mark, done through the cultivation of the land and growing your individual abilities and strengths. The game aims at providing an opportunity for players to fulfil a role of their choosing.Do you want to grow crops to take to market and sell? Be a farmer. Do you want to explore how different resources can be combined? Be a blacksmith. Or do you just want to wander between villages killing monsters (or other players) and increase your skill? The game has a combination of elements from Dragon Age: Inquisition, Dragon’s Dogma and funnily enough; Stardew Valley. These are concealed within a Sword Art Online-esk world which made me super excited as I love the anime. For context, Sword Art Online is the story of a large group of players stuck in VR where death in the game equals death in the real world. This leads to a brave few leading the front lines making their way through the bosses to finish and escape the game. Meanwhile the remaining players go about their lives; doing what they feel is comfortable to support everyone else. Don’t worry though; you’ll live through this game.
During the pre-alpha tech demo, I was introduce to a few of the simple mechanics within the game. This combined with what the developers had to say about potential additions got me super enthusiastic for its release. We started off in an open establishment where I was joined by Joel van de Vorstenbosch, co-founder and lead programmer at Alta. Here we threw stuff at each other, mined, organized our backpack and shot arrows at one another. Side note, he has a much better aim than I. Everything is smooth and as features of a somewhat bare bones game, the foundation is strong for an awesome game to be born.
We then ventured to a randomly generated cave setting that would have been a concerning situation if I had a fear of the dark. Light is minimal but for campfires and torches that are awkwardly positioned throughout the caves. So much so that there are area’s of darkness that you can not see in at all. As you explore through the immense network of caves, you occasionally run into areas previously touched by man, providing hints of the previous dwellers. This environment is setup perfectly to develop into a raid zone in the potential future.
Overall, this game is going to become an incredibly immersive VR RPG with enough freedom to do what you want but with the structure to support your decisions. Aspects of resource gathering, exploration and combat felt fluid and once taught, all become quite instinctual in nature. I congratulate the team of Alta for their dedication to this Mary Poppins like bag of a game. Before leaving the studio and the game though, there was enough time for a quick selfie; there’s always time for a selfie.