Aphrodite sings arias, Hades can harmonise, and music just might solve a murder.
Welcome to the world of Stray Gods, the upcoming musical RPG from the newest Australian game developers on the block.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is the debut video-game of Summerfall Studios, and promises to bring a branching narrative to life through song - with players controlling both the music and direction as the story unfolds.
Liam Esler, co-founder and director at Summerfall, explained the concept.
"We tend to focus more on the musical part of it. The big focus is the songs - there's no game that's come out that had truly interactive songs. There have been songs and music that have been reactive, but nothing where the player decides the content in this way," he said.
"Normally you have reference points to help you. 'What does running look like, how does jumping feel?' With interactive songs, there wasn't anything. We had no idea how to integrate songs effectively into a game experience."
The reactive nature means that for every four minutes of music a player might hear during their play-through, at least twenty minutes of alternative options were penned by the songwriting talent - which includes iconic musicians like Austin Wintory, Tripod and Jessica Cerro - better known as Montaigne.
The game's inspirations and DNA include other visual novels like Telltale's The Wolf Among Us and roleplaying games like Baldur's Gate and Dragon Age - but Mr Esler said a large inspiration had even come from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's famous musical episode.
"It's more like a gigantic mishmash of influences. A lot of our influences aren't from games," said Mr Esler.
Elie Young, another co-founder and director at Summerfall, said that developing the game had been a 'complex, tangled endeavour' even before COVID-19 closed the borders.
"We've had to very quickly and dynamically adjust the development process to meet the changing needs of both the production of Stray Gods and the lockdown restrictions," they said.
"We have brought together a group of incredibly creative and talented musicians and artists, who all want to push the boundaries and make something that nobody has done before. The process can be equally invigorating and frustrating, as we parse out the risks and limitations of what we can realistically deliver."
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The game was funded in large part due to VicScreen, and Mr Esler was quick to thank them, and said that Stray Gods wouldn't exist without them.
"Publishers were really wary of putting money behind it, but VicScreen jumped on board."
But after years of development and pushing those limits, the game is now just a day away from release, and the studio is getting ready for launch.
"There's definitely a lot of anticipation and excitement to finally show everyone what we've been working on for the past 4 years, more so than nerves about the reception," said Mx Young.
"I'm pretty excited. Also terrified, of course. The prospect of this thing that we've been working on for five years being released to the public is bed-wettingly terrifying but I'm really excited to share it with people," added Mr Esler.
"This is the game that we have wanted to play ... it is really special to us."
- Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical is releasing on August 10 on PC and all major console platforms.