Let’s face it, humans are bastards. At some point in our lives we’ve all probably experienced the nastier side of human nature, whether that’s being all too aware you could be murdered for literally no reason or just being tutted at by an elderly aunt when you tell her you’re not that into boiling lobsters alive (how would you like it, Aunt Muriel? Huh?). Well, lets you step into the shoes – or claws – of the monster and give us humans exactly what we deserve. Namely, ripping out plenty of throats in revenge. They’ve ravaged your species, left your parents’ broken bodies in front of you – and now they’ve decided you’re next into the lobster pot.
I say monster, but really I should use Chief Creative Officer . Granted, the word ‘monster’ is loaded with evil connotations and Goldfarb certainly knows the importance of presentation. He’s been in the industry for a while, having worked on Battlefield 3 and Payday 2 before deciding he needed a change from AAA publishing. Taking inspiration from the hulking, villainous beast Grendel from the ancient Beowulf tale (Grendel terrorises town, big muscleman hacks Grendel’s arm off, Grendel gets sad), heavy metal album covers, and (unsurprisingly) monster movies, Project Wight emerged blinking into the daylight. An open-world, first-person RPG set in an alternate dark ages with distinctly Viking-ish humans, you play a mysterious creature who has too many pointy teeth for homo sapiens’ liking. Looking through the eyes of this vilified creature as you grow up and voyage out into the hostile world, it’s sure to ignite some guilt inside those of us who massacre monsters in video games a bit too enthusiastically.
The brief demo is poignant to say the least. Hacking sounds echo around the cave as you cower in the dark. Crawling forward on mottled, glistening limbs, you look up to see two humans standing beside your father’s corpse, strung up in the mouth of the cave. Slashing at his head, they’re trying to take a trophy to show to the village below. Your mother is long since dead. Fleeing for your life when they notice you, you are alone, scared, and vulnerable. But that feeling won’t last long. One of Project Wight’s key mechanics is that as you age and grow, you develop new abilities. Younger, smaller creatures can sneak, climb, and jump, but have little to no attacking skill. As the months pass and you grow bigger, stronger, and angrier, you’ll grow gliding flaps on your arms, develop a deafening roar, and – most importantly – unsheathe devastating claws. Finally you can have some revenge on those who have hunted your species almost to extinction.
No swords or bows here. Instead you’ll use teeth and claws to attack. That’s not all either: the demo shows the creature using an ear-splitting roar to stun the humans charging it. Midair takedowns are also an option as, whilst an adolescent, you can glide from high locations and swoop down on unsuspecting enemies below.
So you’ll get to rip humans to shreds. Good-o. Sinking your teeth into Vikings might be enough of an incentive to get you checking release dates, but “it’s not just about slaughter,” Goldfarb . “There’s more to it than that which we’ll show”. Its developers (hailing from The Outsiders team) are edging away from “explicit missions or a plot”. Fair enough, as seeing quests pop up whilst playing a cave-dwelling, non-speaking creature might be a bit jarring. Instead Goldfarb that he’s pursuing a “dynamic story rather than a tale with a set structure”. Presumably that means the more you explore the world around you, the more you’ll discover humans’ despicable nature as well as the history of your race. Witnessing its softer side is something I’d definitely sign up for, as there must be a lot of pain inside this poor beast. Judging by the fact that it doesn’t look like you can speak, we’re supposedly in for a ton of visual storytelling as I doubt humans will sit you down and explain everything to you.
As for narrative arcs, perhaps near the end there’ll be the possibility for some reconciliation as, knowing our species, I’d hope there were some Vikings who felt unhappy about killing all those creatures and just want peace. Or there might be fellow members of your species to save – used as manual labour perhaps, or just being kept in a cage somewhere as a trophy. Considering you’re bound to grow into a notorious, sharp-toothed avenger I’d expect there to be entirely different melee tactics for you to exploit as, rather than using a blade, you’re using your hands, for god’s sake… Or you could reign it in and play it civilised, which might convince the humans around you that you’re not as much of a threat as they paint you out to be. Of course, all this is far-flung speculation on my part, but who knows? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Project Wight could go in this direction.
*Gasp* Could it be that the definition of monster depends on your perspective? There’s certainly something cathartic about being the underdog. Plus if Spaghetti Westerns have taught us anything, it’s that you can’t beat a good old revenge story. Who knows: Project Wight might even change how you play games in the future. Sinking your sword into a troll or seeing an alien fall with your bullet in its skull can’t feel as good when you question if you’ve just orphaned its offspring. Keep an eye out for more news on Project Wight, as its launch date isn’t confirmed yet – nor has the platforms it’ll be released on – but like a good wine (or a slowly growing vendetta against all humanity) it’s sure to only get better with time.