Morning Men Preview
For the meeting with Pixel Federation to check out Morning Men, I started with playing a very early demo of the game. In the game you play a woman named Luditte who just arrived home with a component that she intends to use for a strange device that she got her hands on...somehow. There are several options that you can choose from with respect to actions that you can take, but in the end they all lead to the same result - calling someone named Jo, who is supposed to be able to help you further. The device has a very specific interface and Jo hangs up the moment she hears about it, indicating that this is something dangerous. From here the game offers different options for how to progress. The demo goes on like this, with every moment providing a number of possibilities, of which you need to select one, but in this demo all of them except one lead to the same result. At some point, you need to quickly leave your city by way of an escape pod. To avoid being blown out of the sky on your way out, you can blow up a part of the city. There is one path you can take in which that will not happen. At that point, the demo ends with the pod crashing in the desert. With this done, I discussed a few things with the developers, like choices and consequences.
In the final game, your choices will lead to different actions and events, with their own consequences based on your choices. Also, characters can react differently to you depending on the choices you make. Morning Men has minor and major events. The minor events do not influence the actual story arc, whereas the major events do. These major events are plot points, which everybody will reach. The difference is in the way you reach those plot points. Your decisions before that point will have their impact on the world around you. Sometimes this is almost directly after you've made your choice and sometimes you experience it much later in the game. The goal of the developers is to make it as branched as possible, while still telling a good story. But, as mentioned, all branches will merge again at the plot points, after which new branches are available that will merge again at the next plot point, etc. For the developers, the story has the highest priority, and the art is monumentally important as well, since it's key in telling the story. Everything else is there to support the story.
The art style of the game is cartoony and looks like a mixture of Moebius, Mad Max and some sci-fi elements combined. In Morning Men, you do not directly control your character, but go from scene to scene, where the characters and some elements in the scene are animated. The story is advanced by the choices you make and then proceeds onward. You will also travel in the world, but it will be done in an animated scripted style, similar to The Banner Saga.
Morning Men supports up to 3 party members, including your character. In the first episode there will be only three available. For subsequent episodes it is not clear yet if more characters will be available. In any case, the characters in your party will react to your choices and can also change their behavior towards you, depending on those choices.
You will gradually gain a number of skills. These skills are all related to the weapons you use. If you use a weapon for long enough, you can learn a specific ability, like shooting faster. Once learned, you have that ability not only for the specific weapon you learned it for, but for other weapons as well. You can also learn from conversations. This often involves trading and bartering, as the game does not have a currency.
The combat in Morning Men is turn-based, JRPG style. In the demo there was one only one combat moment, which was rather easy and also scripted specifically for the demo. The developers mentioned that more engaging combat is planned for the final release.
Morning Men will be released in episodes, with the first episode being planned for the 22nd of November. All episodes will be roughly the same size, but next episode will also include feedback from gamers, so the size might differ depending on that feedback. Currently they are considering at least three episodes. Each of the episodes will be stand-alone, so it can be bought separately from the other ones. Each of the episodes will have a beginning and an end, but there is also an overarching story covering all three of the episodes. If you happen to play episode 1, followed by episode 3, you will get some information, like characters sharing their memories of what happened in episode 2. You can take your character from episode to episode, and your skills will carry over to the new episode. However, you can also opt for starting each episode with a new character, in which case that character will get a stock set of skills and items.
The demo presented a much simpler game than what the developers told me they are planning for the first episode. That demo was from a very early build; hopefully when the first episode gets released, the story, choices, and consequences are worked out as they should be. If so, this might be an interesting game for those who are into story-centered, animated gameplay.
Check out the trailer below to get a feel for what Morning Men looks like.