Calling Clown's Secret a throwback might conjure up visions of low-res pixel art and a chiptune soundtrack, but the upcoming debut point-and-click adventure from indie developer Expression Studios goes much farther back than that. We're not talking 1990s retro here, or even 1980s; think 1920s, the heyday of black-and-white cinema and silent films, and of Charlie Chaplin in particular.
Expression Studios are big fans of The Tramp: the plot of Clown's Secret is inspired by Monsieur Verdoux, and the developers are packing the game full of references to other silent film classics. The leads in their little farce are Hal and Halbert, a detective duo who have been tasked with investigating the disappearance of a wealthy and recently married woman in the city of Tomainia. Hal is young, impulsive and naive, while Halbert is older and calmer, a thinker rather than a talker. Together they'll have to (among other things) turn a lamp into a megaphone, cross a lake by car, put on a dress to flirt with pirates and use the smallest parachute in the world. Not to mention somehow manage to catch a murderer along the way.
The graphics will be in black-and-white (of course), but crisply hand-drawn in a naive style. Like the silent films that serve as its inspiration, it won't be entirely silent, with a score that mixes silent film music with a dash of jazz. And instead of the dialogue cards you might be expecting, the characters will converse via animated pictograms, Machinarium-style. More surprisingly, though, the characters won't be completely quiet either: you'll hear them chatting to each other in gibberish as the animations play out.
Clown's Secret is set to be unveiled for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android devices by the end of 2014. If you want to find out more, you can visit the official website or the developer's blog.