Indie studio Red Square Games just announced SlavicPunk: Oldtimer, an isometric shooter/hacker/sneaker based on the fiction of Polish author Michał Gołkowski. You play a private detective with a whole lot of issues and an intimidating sitcom dad moustache who goes up against the usual assortment of gangs and corrupt corporate executives.
SlavicPunk: Oldtimer promises “solid combat and movement systems, as well as a modular weapon upgrade system”. Stealth is definitely an option, though maybe not non-lethal stealth given all the people who get shot or stabbed in the back during the trailer. As well as an assortment of guns and cybernetic upgrades, it’ll have “Battlehacking”, which the developers describe as “our own hi-tech spellcasting system”.
Between dangerous areas that players will need to sneak and/or shoot their way through will be moments of peace where you get to explore the city, finding sidequests and pushing along the plot, which involves stolen data and the corporation responsible for ruining your city.
That sounds like a pretty generic story, but what’s promising is that alongside the usual imagery of dystopian streets with flying cars and hologram strippers are more culturally specific elements, like the sign depicting a neon girl who wears an ushanka and does goose steps instead of high kicks. It reminds me of Peripeteia only isometric, and you’re playing the grizzliest man who ever lived rather than Major Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell.
Red Square says the developers began by asking themselves, “what was the world going to look like in a couple of decades? How would a hypothetical Central and Eastern European city and its inhabitants differ from, say, Blade Runner’s L.A. or Akira’s Neo Tokyo?’.
“The attempts to answer this puzzle has had a tremendous deal of influence upon the game’s artistic choices, including a mix of futuristic-esque and overly outdated technologies, the grim, brutalist architecture typical of the post-communist countries, the character’s not-so-obvious moral choices and the often crudely makeshift, yank-and-tuck character and atmosphere of an environment overpacked with people forced to cope with the uneven distribution of goods and wealth, often relying on their wits and sheer luck to make it to the next paycheck without losing their minds.”
Red Square is also working on a tabletop RPG in the same setting, called SibirPunk, which it plans to crowdfund via the Kickstarter-but-only-for-games platform Gamefound. SlavicPunk: Oldtimer is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2023 via Steam.