The Holocaust. One of humanity's darkest hours, and not the stuff games are made of, surely. Or is it? Developer Luc Bernard thinks differently, and hopes his latest title Imagination is the Only Escape will inspire players to think about the people involved and want to learn more. Initially planned for release on the Nintendo DS in 2008, it languished in the doldrums for several years before recently re-emerging on Indiegogo for PC.
Billed as an "educational adventure game", that doesn't mean it's a thinly disguised history lesson: the intention is to bring the events of the Holocaust to life through the eyes of a young Jewish boy named Samuel. Living in Paris in 1942, he's an ordinary boy, going to school, playing with friends, getting up to mischief. Then one day the Nazis come, and his mother has no choice but to send him to a sympathetic Catholic priest who smuggles him out of the city and down to a small village hidden in a forest in southern France. Struggling to deal with everything that has happened and unable to cope with the death of his mother at the hands of the Nazis, he retreats into a fantasy world. There he meets a fox called Renard, who tells him that if he restores peace to the forest, she can bring his mother back to life.
There's no getting around it: Imagination Is The Only Escape will be tough going for many. Intended as more of an interactive experience than a traditional adventure game (Bernard draws parallels with The Walking Dead), it will nevertheless mostly be pure 2D point-and-click, and it looks absolutely stunning. Will any of this be enough to persuade people to overcome their squeamishness? Are we ready for games about such serious topics? Only time will tell.
Seeking $125,000 on Indiegogo, the game is so far struggling to meet its funding target, though as a flexible funding campaign, the developer will receive any funds contributed, regardless of the final outcome. A minimum pledge of $10 will result in a DRM-free download of the game for PC or Mac. Bernard's tentative goal is to release the game next year on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Ouya (with the possibility of Wii U and PS Vita later on).
To learn more and contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, visit the game's Indiegogo page.