My dad spent a not-inconsiderable number of hours waging war against the local squirrel population over control of his bird feeders. He fought bravely, and resolutely, and ultimately he lost: After an incident involving an angry squirrel who got loose in the back of his truck, he decided the whole thing wasn't worth the hassle. Detente was achieved: The squirrels were permitted to go about their business more or less unmolested, and somehow life went on pretty much as it always had.
All of this came to mind today with the announcement that Nuts (opens in new tab), the "adventure in squirrel surveillance" that was revealed (opens in new tab) at the 2020 Guerrilla Collective showcase, will be out on Steam (opens in new tab) and Itch.io (opens in new tab) on February 4.
As a rookie field researcher working deep in the Melmoth Forest, you'll spend your days placing cameras and your nights studying footage as you track the movements and behaviors of the area's squirrels: Their movement patterns, their hiding places, and whatever else it is that squirrels get up to when they think there's no one watching. The developers promise an "an intimate, immersive story with full voice acting," featuring "bold visuals and foley sound effects that envelop you in a vibrant forest."
It all looks and sound quite tranquil, reminiscent of Firewatch (opens in new tab) in some ways, and yet I'm pretty sure there's more going here than meets the eye. For one thing, there's an almost throwaway comment in the announcement suggesting that the squirrels are behaving "strangely." The launch date trailer released today goes to some unexpected places, too: Why would a squirrel stash dynamite and matches?
That's a fair question.
I have no idea where this is all headed, but that kind of bait-and-switch was at the heart of Firewatch too, and even if it didn't quite pay off in the end it made for a thrilling summertime adventure. I don't expect Nuts to have have the emotional intensity or heft of Firewatch (TNT-equipped squirrels, really?) but it's certainly captured my curiosity. I want to know what those little rodents are getting up to.