It made a splash at E3 2021, and then again at The Game Awards late last year. But it feels like we still know precious little about Somerville, the mysterious sci-fi adventure from Guildford’s Jumpship, founded by Chris Olsen in collaboration with former Playdead CEO Dino Patti. Well, all that is about to change: the latest edition of Edge, out today, features the first in-depth look at the game, and it’s shaping up to be something rather special.
Now in its eighth year of development, Somerville isn’t the same game writer-director Olsen initially conceived. It remains the story of an ordinary family caught in the middle of an alien invasion, but this cinematic action-adventure – inspired by Eric Chahi’s Another World and its “flagrant disregard of traditional game loops” – has moved from 2D to 3D. “It used to have a jump and then I was like, I don’t want to jump. I don’t want it to be a platformer,” Olsen says.
So what is it, then? Patti’s involvement has inevitably drawn a number of comparisons with Inside and Limbo, but it’s not really a spiritual successor to Playdead’s games – even if Olsen understands why it’s been described that way. “In games, there’s very few studios that have that approach of, ‘No, let’s not put anything there, or let’s just keep that suggestive’. I think that there’s often this need to fill space in games with a lot of stuff.” Somerville is similarly happy to take its sweet time, and let its mysteries percolate, but it’s also been pared back, any extraneous elements cut to avoid repetition of mechanics and environments.
During an expansive discussion with the studio, we learn about how its atmospheric world was built, and the challenge of creating Sediment, a living alien entity and material that proves crucial to the game’s central mechanics: this mysterious, shifting substance can be liquefied, solidified, and even tunnelled through.
We uncover a number of additional secrets besides – but in keeping with Jumpship’s approach so far, we’ll leave the rest for you to discover in our exclusive cover feature.
You’ll find shocks of a rather nastier kind in Bokeh’s terrifying Slitterhead: we talk to studio founder Keiichiro Toyama about the connections and differences between his new game and the horror classics with which he made his name. We board The Anacrusis to investigate this sci-fi Left 4 Dead, and explain why Forspoken’s magic lies in its parkour-based movement.
In our reviews section, we run the rule over FFXIV: Endwalker and find out if it’s the perfect conclusion to the MMORPG’s long-running story arc, before turning our critical lens towards 10 Chambers’ survival-horror shooter GTFO, Dotemu’s Windjammers 2, Drinkbox’s action-RPG Nobody Saves The World, and more.
Elsewhere in E368, Firaxis’s Jake Solomon talks us through his career to date, from Civilization III to Marvel’s Midnight Suns. We also explore the growing audiogame scene and why it’s time to start listening in, and catch up with Witch Beam for an extensive look into the making of 2021’s marvellous Unpacking. And in Time Extend we rewind to take another look at Hironobu Sakaguchi’s captivating clash of past and present, Lost Odyssey. You’ll find all this and more in Edge 368, which is on sale now. (opens in new tab)