Over the past weekend at EGX I had the chance to sit down and play Herald, a new take on the point and click adventure from the Netherlands based developer Wispfire. After being delighted by the art style and choice driven nature of the game I spoke with Narrative Designer and Producer Nick Witsel, as well as the Writer and Business Director Roy van der Schilden.
For those who haven’t heard of the game, Herald is an interactive period drama set in the 19th Century. The game plays as a mix between adventure game and visual novel. You play as Devan Rensburg, a steward of mixed heritage working on board the HLV Herald, a ship sailing to your land of birth, the Eastern Colonies. Set during a time of great inequality and injustice players are given the choice on how to deal with various elements of the 19th Century Colonialism.
After getting a taste of the game I wanted to know more about the story, the teams decision on the certain point in history as well as the specific art style of the game.
The first thing that was obvious to me was the difference that the game looked like nothing had been used from Dutch heritage. What was the teams decision in doing this?
“Herald is an interactive period drama set in the 19th Century, players will have the choice with how to deal with dilemmas from the colonialism. The Dutch played a part in this, though the game isn’t set specifically around the Dutch there are elements that are close to the roots of the team.”
Another aspect that I first noticed was the difference in art style in comparison to other indie titles, with Herald being more abstract was this a conscious decision or something that just happened in the development process?
“With Herald being a choice and story driven game we wanted the art style to be part of that style, so we moved away from the 8-bit graphics that have become commonplace and instead went forward with hand drawn art and animations that looked to be painted, these both help to tell that story of the game.”
I also couldn’t help but pay attention to the music as well, was there a certain style you wanted to go alongside the story and how does the music tie in with the games overarching theme?
“We wanted to go with a more classical style of music, and East meets West kind of portrayal to link in with the story. The Eastern Indian style ties into the conventions of the conflict that is happening with the main character in the game.”
With this title being heavily centred on character development and the choices the player makes along the story, was there any inspiration from other titles that you’ve used in the development in the game?
“We were inspired by the work by the team at Telltale Games, specifically The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us series. Because of these we wanted to to use certain aspects of the games such as allowing players to explore areas and find small story points and lore planted around the world, as well as giving the player a choice in which character/s to talk to.”
You mentioned about certain story points in the areas the players explore, could you explain how much players will be able to unlock from exploring?
“Any time the player find a new click on an interactive item in the game it adds it to the Encyclopaedia, each item unlock the information about the item as well as some back story or history to that specific item. We want players to take time to play through the game multiple times to find all the hidden secrets each item holds in the game. The game is built on three layers of story telling, character interaction, journal entries, and world interaction; to get the best experience players will want to explore each of these aspects.”
Herald looks to be a very delightful game, being developed by only 13 people it’s easy to see the love and hard work that is being poured into the game. It’s obvious that each scene in the game incorporates the interactive theatre that four of the founders studied, and shows how in depth the team are going with the story telling.
The game is set to release in Q1 2016, with part two following at a later date. For the minutes the game is set to release of PC, Mac, and Linux though the team are looking into broadening to tablets and home consoles as well.
Personally I am super excited to get more involved into the story, considering the 15 minutes I played had me hooked I can’t wait to find all the little hidden lore and history points planted around the world.
If Herald sounds like the game for you make sure you Pre-order the game HERE and show support to such a loving developer.