Cyberpunk. One of the few genres of fiction where life is so, so, so much worse than the here and now, and fans go, "Ooh, neon," and sigh wistfully at the prettiness of raindrops splattering on glowing adverts of cyborg geisha.
In the latest trailer for Nivalis, the life sim from the studio that gave us Cloudpunk, we’ve gotten a glimpse of the story that propels our character to set up their own enterprise in the recesses of this grubby city.
In Ion Lands' previous game, Cloudpunk, the player flitted between the skyscrapers fulfilling jobs as a driver for a courier company, but if you looked a little closer, you could see small citizens skittering hither and thither. The team built upon this enlarging those little peoples’ lives into a business sim. Yet Nivalis is offering more than monitoring incomes and expenses.
Shown off in the PC Gaming Show, the story trailer introduces us to the nameless artificial intelligence that will assist your new business—be it a food stall, a ramen stand, or a bar—allowing you to maximize your finances and attract regulars. Staff will be able to earn more for late shifts, though their happiness is still crucial to getting the good word out there. "There is more to it than uncovering the next big conspiracy and shooting and hacking your way to the top," studio head Marko Dieckmann said in last year’s reveal. "There are millions of ordinary people following their ordinary lives. For us, that's an exciting premise."
You can customize and decorate your apartment or splash the cash and buy a brand new one, which will be necessary for impressing guests and business partners. Ion Lands’ striking voxel art style and dazzling use of lighting mean the view out of every window is one to die for, and if you play your cards correctly, you’ll be the biggest name in Nivalis with virtual fingers in more virtual pies than you could ever imagine.
As well as the day-to-night-to-day operations of the business, there is also a cast of characters to meet. Romances and nemeses are possible, though, as the AI points out, all relationships are essentially the product of saying the right thing at the right time, and there are different outcomes based on how the player treats their peers.
Call me cynical, but I think the AI may not have our best interests at its vaporwave heart. Perhaps it’s how it shrugs off the fact that an android serial killer is stalking the streets. Watch your step when you go fishing for some downtime from the daily grind.