So, this is great: “Octopus City Blues” is the first game from Kuwait City-based Ghost in a Bottle Corporation. It’s an adventure game about a listless, middle-aged octoblood junkie, tentacle cutter, and all-around chump named Kaf Kafkaryan and his unwitting role in changing Octopus City forever.
Octopus City is exactly what it sounds like: an urban, steam-powered dystopia built on the lifeblood of a giant cephalopod, its eight legs providing the foundation for eight inter-connected neighborhoods, the last bastions of human habitation on a planet wracked by a centuries-long ice storm.
If the weird-fiction-slash-noir premise doesn’t sway you, maybe this trailer will:
Everything from the game’s pixel art to its gruesome character designs to its deep indigos and violets is picture perfect. If nothing else, “Octopus City Blues” oozes style (and ectoplasm, probably).
“Ocotopus City Blues” is nominally an adventure game, but it clearly takes cues from any number of 16-bit role-playing games: Kaf will be able to carry and equip items, and much of the game will involve talking to NPCs, solving puzzles, and unraveling whatever mysteries Octopus City holds.
Here’s the tantalizing rub, though: Kaf’s dialogue choices change based on his “Guilt” and “Stress” levels, both of which are affected by previous choices, as well as by how much knowledge about Octopus City and its inhabitants he’s managed to gather. The game’s site and Kickstarter campaign suggest a sort of dynamic, somewhat-persistent world in which each NPC has its own schedule and will react to various events in the city.
At worst, all of the different types of interactions promised so far make “Octopus City Blues” sound expansive and deeply personalized. At best, the game’s NPCs might behave like those in Jordan Mechner’s “The Last Express,” where putting Kaf in the right place at the right time will open any number of intricate new paths to take. “Octopus City Blues” is “the authentic Octopus City simulation,” after all,
Anyway, do poke around “Octopus City Blues”’s Kickstarter campaign and official website, since both contained a wealth of straight-faced information about the life and times of Kaf Kafkaryan and the bizarre world he lives in.
“Octopus City Blues” has about four weeks to raise $3,000 on Kickstarter, so developers Ghost in a Bottle are well on their way to securing funding. After that, the game will be released on Mac, Linux, and Windows some time next year.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter