The Planet of the Apes trilogy prequel trilogy may have concluded this summer but there's still a lot of stories to explore within that universe. Andy Serkis who plays Caesar in the Apes films helped found a mocap studio called The Imaginarium that will be publishing a Planet of the Apes game centered around choices a la Telltale games like Batman and The Walking Dead.
The game which is titled Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier will take place after the second film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and will follow a small group of apes that broke away from Caesar's tribe. The apes make a home in the Rocky Mountains but must in on a valley controlled by humans as the apes' food supply depletes and winter grows near. Last Frontier will take cues from the morally ambiguous themes of the films where you see both sides of the war for civilization and don't fault any particular side completely.
The apes want to live their lives without being dominated by humans who are predominantly seen as fairly evil, careless creatures while the humans want to maintain their place and species. Players will play as both humans and apes and will be given choices that determine how the story plays out and what ending you will be given. Last Frontier is set to be the length of a movie coming in at around 2 – 3 hours long with no direct control over characters, just options like dialogue and various choices. The developer doesn't want to have a linear story where you only control some things within the narrative, ideally, they want you to make a choice every 15 – 20 seconds.
“The pace of the storytelling is just super-intense compared to any of these other games,” explains Imaginati founder Martin Alltimes. “There's no opening and closing drawers, no searching through inventories. It's all about you making choices that affect relationships with other characters and, in the long term, how those relationships play out, and how the story plays out. It's a creative risk, but when we talked to everyone on the team, they really believed in it. It would have been very easy for us to copy what had gone before.”
The focus is on story and evolving this genre into something more focused and cinematic. Players won't be given feedback from the game to show you how someone is feeling like a prompt that says "X person will remember that", instead you'll have to invest yourself in the situation and consider how something may affect another character or the story.
“Traditionally in video games, the writer is the last person hired,” says Alltimes. “In our game, they were the first person hired, because all our games are about is storytelling. The roots of what we've done is built on the heritage of Quantic Dreams’ or Telltale Games’ products. But we have a very specific angle. I saw the opportunity here was pure, cinematic-style storytelling, rather than traditional console storytelling.”
The publisher sees the risk of what they're doing but they believe it's a risk worth taking and that it'll resonate with players.
“From a publisher perspective, we realise we're taking a risk,” explains Imaginarium head of games, Gina Jackson, “but it fits so well into the way The Imaginarium thinks and the way that we like to tell stories, and the fact that performance is really at the heart of everything we do. We're really supportive of what Martin's doing and how he's trying to push this genre in a different direction. It just makes perfect sense for us.”
There's currently no date for Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier but it's set to release on Xbox One, PS4, and PC this fall. You can view a trailer and some gameplay courtesy of IGN above.