The Precursors: ambition turned up to 11

Ukrainian developer Deep Shadows have released a bonkers video for their forthcoming mix-tape game The Precursors. Check it out:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Restraint clearly isn’t a word in Deep Shadows’ vocabulary. There appears to be a mix of at least four genres here – shooter, role-playing, driving and space combat – none of which normally end up in the same game. It’s wildly ambitious, especially for a relatively new and small developer that made a rather dubious debut with the equally free-for-all and unfortunately bug-ridden Boiling Point in 2005. The sceptic in me knows that this will be a complete mess of a game, compromising each of its component genres in order to make a lifeless whole that is far less than the sum of its parts.

Then again, The Precursors has the potential of fulfilling a gaming dream. When Elite came out in the 80s, we immediately wanted to land on planets. When Frontier came out, we wanted to get out of the ship and walk about. Then Doom came along and started the first-person revolution. The Grand Theft Autos have shown that on-foot and vehicle gameplay can be melded together seamlessly. What remains is the ultimate, inevitable goal: an Elite style space game that enables you to arrive on a planet, enter its orbit, land and exit your vehicle to walk around its surface. Preferably all without a loading screen.

Whether Deep Shadows accomplish anything anywhere near that lofty ideal isn’t terribly important. The crucial thing, no matter what Yoda says, is that someone is trying. There’s something about eastern European developers that is exciting and unpredictable – The Witcher and STALKER were both incredible games; flawed and slightly wobbly but overflowing with fresh ideas and imagination. The likes of Boiling Point and Call of Juarez weren’t as successful by a long way but still contained innovative concepts that western developers seem unwilling to examine.

So: bonkers, yes. But The Precursors is worth keeping an eye on.

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