Virginia: Telling a Story Without Saying a Word
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Virginia: Telling a Story Without Saying a Word
27 August, 2016
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In September 2016, you’ll be able to take a look at a weird English detective game, which tells its compelling story entirely through visuals.

Virginia was first announced in 2014. The game is being developed by a small indie game studio called Variable State and published by the wonderful guys at 505 Games. Variable State was founded by Jonathan Burroughs and Terry Kenny, who were both part of the DeepMind Technologies. Both founders have a deep understanding of the game development process, having contributed to games by Rockstar, Rare and Electronic Arts. It’s no wonder their debut game is nothing short of amazing.

Stakeout

80.lv got immediately interested in Virginia, because the game does one very smart thing – it has no (at least in the demo) dialogue. This project doesn’t tell you anything. Everything is done entirely through visuals and very clever environment design. It’s like if you’ve taken Firewatch and turned it inside out.

Deputy Hill at the Fairfax place

Meadow

 

Virginia Character 1

Developers are calling Virginia ‘a first person interactive drama’. It tells a story of a recently graduated FBI agent and her partner, who are trying to find a missing young boy. The game is inspired by of 90s TV dramas like Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and The Outer Limits. It’s a weird mix of detective plot and surreal happenings. The story is very complex and quirky. The demo actually sums it up nicely: it’s got bisons in the bedroom, spooky small American towns, big cars, priests, mysterious red lights and hidden dark rooms. It also uses a bunch of very clever storytelling techniques.

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The player uncovers the story bits through careful environments. There are pictures on the walls, the color of the character’s hair, the hidden rooms and drawings in the boy’s diary. There are names on the envelopes, menus, random encounters with locals, solemn faces of policemen . There are a ton of little things, tiniest details which help to create an amazing atmosphere. This is the kind of game you want to enjoy at your own pace, sucking the atmosphere of the incredible mystery, which just makes you feel like you’re watching a 90s version of Stranger Things.

Visually the game does remind a lot of Firewatch. It’s a very graphical world with heavily stylized visuals. Everything looks like it came from a graphic novel. Broad strokes, bright colors, great work with light, low-poly assets and a lot of details. We’re trying to arrange the interview with the developers to discuss the art direction in more detail.

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The game comes on September 22, 2016. If you’re a fan of good interactive storytelling and looking for your X-Files game, it doesn’t get better than this. Check out 80.lv later for the interview with the developers. Meanwhile we encourage you to download the demo of Virginia. It’s free and it’s amazing.

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