By Joseph Leray
Moonbot Studios’ are making a new game, based on the folktale of the Golem of Prague, and they’re using a Kickstarter campaign to fund it. Sure, the game won’t be out until 2015, even in the best circumstances, but the premise and Kickstarter pitch guarantee that I’ll be keeping an eye on the project until then.
“Golem” is Shreveport, Louisiana-based Moonbot’s riff on a Renaissance-era folktale: the armies of Cesare Borgia, with Leonardo da Vinci-designed siege engines in tow, are at the walls of Prague, and a Jewish rabbi named Judah Loew creates the golem out of clay to defend the city. Players will control the golem, who starts the game as a towering, mindless brute but will evolve as he becomes more self-aware.
The story — like all great myths — plays fast and loose with history: both Borgia and da Vinci were dead before Rabbi Loew was even born, but I digress.
Players will have to learn how to control the titular golem, making sure that it can fight Prague’s enemies without destroying its buildings or people. The city’s various guilds — woodworkers, smiths, machinists, glassblowers — will help the golem through his journey, repairing his armor and upgrading his capabilities. The team describes the game as an action-RPG designed for a controller, despite it’s billing as a game for Mac, PC, and Linux.
If the game’s premise and setting isn’t intriguing enough, consider that Moonbot cut its teeth making short films. The team won an Oscar for “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” which — as managing director Lampton Enochs notes — “didn’t come with a cash prize,” and has since worked on a number of interactive storytelling projects, such as “Numberlys,” an iOS game, and “Diggs Nightcrawler,” an upcoming noir mystery for the PlayStation 3 Wonderbook.
In other words, this is a team that knows how to write compelling characters and marry them to beautiful animation and art direction. As a result, “Golem” feels like a weighty, worthwhile project, if the concept art and ideas on display in the Kickstarter pitch video are any indication.
The indie team is asking for $750,000 to build the game from the ground up, money needed to pay the writers, designers, and illustrators needed to do the project justice. After three days, “Golem” has raised almost $20,000, but backers will need to pick up the pace to fully fund the project.