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Sally looks like Animal Crossing set on Howl's Moving Castle

Announced today, Sally is a new game under development by Lucid Tales and, well, try pigeonholing this one. The above trailer shows a girl finding a frog with some delight, showing it off to various other NPCs, and then a pullback reveal that is simply awesome.

Sally is the name of the airship. You play a young kid, think kind of 10-12 years old, among a bunch of other kids, and these kids make up the crew. The ship's captained by two grandmothers, Alice and Beatrix, seen in the trailer in front of a blackboard containing daily tasks for the children.

So what exactly is the game? There are a tonne of obvious influences here but no one straight through-line. The developers cite games as varied as Final Fantasy IX, the Sims 3, Spiritfarer, Summer in Mara, Stardew Valley, and of course Animal Crossing. Working on the ship will involve crafting items, making food, looking after your fellow crewmates, and maintaining and improving the ship.

In terms of non-gaming influences, if you immediately got Howl's Moving Castle vibes then you're not alone (the developers openly discuss Ghibli's influence in the following devlog, posted alongside the reveal trailer).

The tasks are kind of the scaffolding for what Sally's aiming at, which is that Animal Crossing sense of surprising and unexpected interactions with AI. Lucid Tales wants to make a world where players are interested in experimenting with the AI interactions and discovering their personalities, which are constructed from traits obvious and subtle.

The concept is certainly ambitious—and this thing just looks gorgeous. It's also every tribute to Lucid Tales that this thing looks so interesting, and is so hard to pin down. 

Or, as the studio's AI lead Louis says: "Remember Call of Duty? Yeah, it's nothing like that."

To catch the rest of E3, check out our full E3 2021 schedule.

Rich Stanton

Rich was raised by a Spectrum 48K in the Scottish wilderness, and this early exposure to survival mechanics made him a rooter-out of the finest news truffles, and suspicious of all the soft, civilised Amiga people. These days he mostly plays Counter-Strike and Rocket League, and is good at one of them. He's also the author of a Brief History of Video Games.