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An invitation to explore with thechineseroom

I invite you to take a journey with me through the creations of thechineseroom, an Indie studio whose games are changing the electronic playground. Its first title, Dear Esther, landed in my Steam library through a gift from the man with the golden voice, John “Agro” Irwin, the KritzKast host.

Dear Esther – My shrine of sorrow

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“Dear Esther is that rarest of things: a truly interesting game. It left me feeling pensive, mildly saddened, and confident that games have plenty of directions left to explore. If you’re interested in what can be achieved when you abandon the conventions of games and explore the fringes of the form instead, it’s a must-play”. Keza MacDonald IGN review. 

I've never played anything like Dear Esther. This game has no clear goals; no enemies, no tasks, you don’t even have a weapon. You cannot jump, run or interact with your environment. Instead, you wander around, you explore, you discover, you listen, and you feel. Playing it feels as if you are walking inside a haunted and exquisitely beautiful painting, that comes alive by you allowing it to tell its story. The excruciating slow pace and lack of interacting within the game force you to make a decision; you either quit the game, or you allow it to speak to you. I chose to allow Dear Esther’s world to draw me in and share the feeling of immense sorrow that is the emotional tone for this story. The ever present sense of heartache, loss, loneliness, but above all of a great love, is profoundly displayed by the art, music and poetry of the game. You are unable to distance yourself from it. You cannot ignore it; it engulfs you completely. It's all around you; sorrow seeps from the island, broken thoughts painted on the cliffs, small candle shrines, photos scattered around it. This invokes an intense feeling of empathy with the narrator. It's something that I've not experienced in any game before. Dear Esther is a work of art, it speaks to the player in the way that only art can. It elicits a response of understanding heartache and connects you to the moments when you have felt those same feelings. I urge you to explore this game; it will leave you with an impression of profound beauty and wonder.

thechineseroom’s next two titles are still in production.

Amnesia: A machine for pigs

Where Dear Esther was a delicate celebration of beauty and love, Amnesia seems to be a celebration of terror and madness. Amnesia shares the same beautifully painted game environment, as well as the dark promise that the player will again be able to identify with the game on a deeply emotional level. If you are brave enough, watch the trailer. From the onset of the first heart stopping note, the trailer grabs your mind in a vice grip of madness to come.

thechineseroom has been extremely secretive about the dark comings and goings of the world in Amnesia. This is the only official info the studio has released.

“Oswald Mandus, a rich Victorian industrialist has returned home from a disasterous expedition to Mexico that ended in tragedy. Gravely ill, he falls into a coma and is plagued by nightmares of a vast machine. He awakens at home with no sense of how much time has passed, only to hear, somewhere nearby, a dark engine roars into life.”

This first person survival horror game is an indirect sequel to Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It is set for release on pc early 2013. Gamers can be sure of a journey into all things insanely terrifying and madly disturbing. It is sure to scare your pants of.

Earlier this week thechineseroom announced that it is working on the spiritual successor of Dear Esther.

Everybody's Gone to the Rapture

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The press release for Everybody's Gone to the Rapture reveals just enough about the game to get my heart yearning to explore its world. Again, fans of the studio, can expect a game environment that is beautifully drawn, music that cloaks the player in the atmosphere of the game, and a journey that tears at the heart.

“Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is an open-world, pure story game. We see it as the natural follow-on to Dear Esther. Rather than a linear environment, the whole game takes place in one large world. We're experimenting with dynamic, adaptive storytelling and audio as the backbone for the game, and re-introducing more interactive elements to the experience. We're currently working in CryEngine3, and at the moment are finalising the world design and gameplay elements, ready to start detailing up the world and creating the large number of audio assets it will require. The story is still very much in development, but the key concept is this: many games set their action in a post-apocalyptic world. We want to try and create a game that takes place at the moment of apocalypse itself. What happens when time ceases to exist, when the world becomes empty? How do normal people respond to the end of the world itself? Currently, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture is based around six characters, each telling their own story, and each connected to landmarks in the world that evolve as the game progresses.”  

Closing thoughts

With Dear Esther, thechineseroom proved that it could deliver a unique gaming experience, which gamers loved. This Indie studio looked into the hearts of gamers and correctly saw an ache for games that are able to tell deeply immersive stories. Through its creative genius in art, storytelling and music, I am expecting this studio to deliver games that will attach itself to the very fibre of my gamer’s heart. Why don’t you pay a visit to thechineseroom and explore Dear Esther, Amnesia and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture for yourself?

Han’s Twitter | Blog

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