The cult investigation game The Church in the Darkness gained early attention for the presence of voice actors Ellen McClain and John Patrick Lowrie, well-known to gamers as the voices of GlaDOS and TF2's Sniper, among others. But with the game set to come out tomorrow, director Richard Rouse III revealed an even more impressive lineup of guest writers who help "flesh out the world."
"One of the great perks of being in the game industry is how accessible most designers and writers are. If you’re someone who grew up looking at game credits and wondering about the people who make these games you love, when you get in the industry there’s a good chance you can meet those people. And almost all of them welcome conversation," Rouse wrote.
"Over the years I had met many of the people who inspired me, so I thought it would be great to get some of them to fill out the characters in The Church in the Darkness."
He first approached Steve Meretzky, best known for his time at the famed adventure game studio Infocom, where he worked out games including Planetfall, Sorcerer, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and A Mind Forever Voyaing. After Meretzky agreed to take part, "it inspired me to seek out more writers," Rouse said.
Next on the list was Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw, whose worked proved that it's possible to "take Harlan Ellison style SF and make it work in a fully interactive world." After that was Brenda Romero, a major player in early RPGs who "has fascinated me with her ability to reinvent herself over the years," and Brian Moriarty, another Infocom veteran and author of the LucasArts cult-classic adventure Loom.
And of course Chris Avellone agreed to take part, because that's just what he does.
"Each of these writers wrote supporting characters who you learn about through letters, journal pages and other documents found around Freedom Town. It was interesting to see what part of the Collective Justice Mission they each wanted to expand," Route wrote.
Laidlaw and Romero both wrote characters who are "looking for a place to belong," while Avellone focused on creating more of a troublemaker. Meretzky and Moriarty "independently decided to use ciphers and hidden messages in the documents they wrote, fitting since such puzzles were fixtures of the old Infocom games."
The addition of such an impressive array of writers bodes well for The Church in the Darkness. Mechanically it's an "infiltration action" game, but the characters and the story are what promise to make it stand out—especially since the story will change from game to game.
"The story of The Church in the Darkness can be a dark one, depending on how the dynamic systems push elements in a given playthrough and depending on which choices you make with a given scenario. But no matter how bleak, there’s always an opportunity for redemption. Bringing in these guest writers fleshed out the world in surprising ways, showing the people who might redeem Freedom Town."
The Church in the Darkness comes out on August 2.