PAX EAST 2020: ‘Gamedec’ – Sleuthing in the 22nd Century

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Gamedec

Gamedec is an isometric view, top-down adventure game published and developed by Anshar Studios. In Gamedec, the player takes on the role of a private eye in a cyberpunk future world. Players design their own characters, choose their strengths, and then go out into the darkness of a grim future.

As the player runs their investigations, they spend time tracking down leads in both the game’s real world, as well as its virtual counterpart. Full immersion in the virtual world is a fact of life in this future landscape. With so much of life occurring in this virtual reality, more and more crime becomes involved with it. From my brief time with the demo, the biggest thing this virtual world brings to the game is a refreshing change of scenery to the cyberpunk setting.

Players use classic point and click controls to navigate through their investigations. Various elements in the world can be interacted with, as well as plenty of opportunities for dialogue with NPCs. I was also told there would be a large variety of mini-games to flesh out various activities players will take on throughout the game. However, I didn’t play through any of these mini-games in my time with the Gamedec demo so I cannot speak to their quality.

When I first started my demo I found myself on a very standard neon-lit street. The kind you always find in the genre. Once I made my way to a nearby bar and hopped into the virtual world I was transported to a bright sunny farm. I was also told that the virtual world will be used throughout the game to take the player to all kinds of different locales. This promises a pleasant change of pace from the grim back alleys and high rise penthouses that litter the cyberpunk landscape. While the setting was a nice change, I also appreciated some of the detail work that the developers included while crafting this virtual world.

As I walked through the farmlands, I passed plants that were being grown. Every plant had a growth bar over it showing how soon it would be ready for harvest. This had nothing to do with my investigation, but it’s what you would see in a virtual display. So in the game, it is.

Gamedec

While talking with the producer for Gamedec I also learned that player options are also founded in what players are most likely to want to do. To research the way players will approach the investigations, they ran the missions as classic pen and paper scenarios, keeping note of what actions their players most often wanted to take. When an investigation would lead to a bar, the players most often went to the bar to order a drink. So, even though interacting with the bartender has nothing to do with the current scenario, it was an option for me to take. I found this thoroughness, and desire to craft an experience that permits players to do what they want, most interesting.

Another element that makes Gamedec stand out is its approach to character growth. Instead of gaining levels and investing points, characters improve the aspects (skills) they actively use. When an aspect is available for use, say in a dialogue, the player is shown their odds of success. If you want those odds to increase you have to use the skill. It was explained to me that this style of character progression is used because the developers wanted the game to mirror the fact that in real life, we learn by doing.

The last thing that really stood out to me here is the branching narrative. Each case has multiple different ways it can be solved. And this doesn’t lead to some endings being bad, and others being the “right” ending. They are just different conclusions to each story. This multiple endings approach to every level, as opposed to just the final ending, promises players lots of replayability out of this game.

While my time with Gamedec was short, it was certainly interesting. Shifting narratives and lots of varied locales promise a unique experience from this cyberpunk adventure game.

Gamedec is currently slated for release some time this year.