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Hark! Herald to take players back to Age of Sail in 2015

There's a high seas adventure coming in 2015, though the upcoming Herald promises not cannonfire, swashbucklers, or undead zombie pirates, but a "choice-based adventure about authority, prejudice and colonialism."

Set in an alternate 1857, the "West stands united as a single empire: the Protectorate. With the onset of modernity, the Protectorate is struggling to maintain order, as tensions arise resulting from great inequality and prejudice." Into this tenuous socio-political climate steps Devan Rensburg, a man of "mixed heritage in search of his roots." Seeking passage to the East, Devan takes a job aboard a merchant ship called the HLV Herald. With "people on board from many different backgrounds, the Herald is a microcosm of society", and Devan's job is to "look after and interact with a diverse cast of opinionated passengers and crew."

Described by indie Dutch developer Wispfire as a "3D interactive drama", Herald promises to let players "experience 19th century colonialism and prejudice by showing, through choice and interactive dialogue, both the strengths and futilities of siding with or rebelling against an authority." Your daily tasks will see you "scrub the decks, raise sails and assist passengers with their trivial issues", continually reminded of the fact that "you have neither the appearance of a pure western imperial nor the upbringing and background of a true native colonial."

Blending hand-painted 2D art and 3D environments, Herald is a mix of visual novel and point-and-click adventure in the final days of the Age of Sail. You can freely explore the ship and interact with the environment, and there will even be some puzzles to solve, though the primary emphasis will be on the story and interactive conversations. Player choice will play a key role in character development, as you establish Devan's identity in this "world divided by race, class and religion."

Herald is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux, and while there's no definitive timetable for its release, we can expect to see it some time in 2015. In the meantime, you can learn more about the game at its official website.

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