The first-person narrative adventure game with a sci-fi aesthetic Cradle will be releasing this week on PC through Steam, on July 24, 2015.
Cradle is a science-fiction first-person quest with freedom of movement. The story is built around the relations of the protagonist and a mechanical girl, who by enigmatic circumstances find themselves together in a yurt among the desert Mongolian hills. The player is to restore the lost functions of his companion’s mechanical body parts and together reveal the mystery of the neglected entertainment park found not far from the yurt.
There’s a very good chance that watching the latest trailer for Cradle will leave you absolutely none the wiser as to what that game’s about. Flying buses, a dude in a Groucho Marx disguise, amnesia, a half-built mechanical girl and so many cubes that part of the game world could probably be twinned with Minecraft. This seemed like exactly the time to get in touch with Ilya Tolmachev, Creative Director of Cradle developer Flying Cafe for Semianimals and ask “Wait, what?”
The game trailers and teasers released so far ooze a poetic strangeness which pegs the title firmly into “art game” territory, and seems to delight in obscurantism. Asking Tolmachev about the game’s influences yields the following literary recipe:
“The story in Cradle has combined the mood and ideas from books of several writers: from Albert Camus the story of Cradle received the taste of bitterness and [the] absurd; from Vladimir Sorokin, an eerie feeling of permanent hostility coming out of the reality; from Andrey Platonov, the feeling of empathy and pity directed towards don’t know who, having no specific addressee; from the Strugatsky brothers, the humanistic confidence in the inevitable triumph of human essence over the animal one.”
The game itself is intended to feel like a dream but translating liminality into a coherent ruleset for the player is no easy feat. According to Tolmachev, the team hopes that the consistent internal logic of the game world will ground players. “The entire world of the game is built so that under the first impression it looks surreal,” he says. “However, as the story develops the player unfolds strict logical links between the objects and phenomena of this universe. That makes the game transform from a metaphoric parable to a logically convincing realistic story.”
The pre-release trailer for the game was revealed earlier this month, showing off the game’s world and the main protagonist’s robotic partner. The main protagonist must find a way to repair his companion.
Both characters find themselves in an abandoned theme park, in a desert, and resolve to discover the mystery behind the location. Taking place in the year 2076, in Mongolia, the protagonist wakes up in a yurt and remembers nothing of himself or of how long he has been sleeping.
Flying Cafe for Semianimals, the developer of this project, have been working on Cradle since 2011. The team consists of four people, and they are located in Ukraine. Their goal with the sci-fi exploration game was to evoke the perspective of a dream, which can be remarkably different from that of waking life.