Irish mythology, with its magical beings like faeries and banshees, has long captivated imaginations of people around the world. Scéal (Irish for “story”), a recently-released sidescroller by multinational development studio Joint Custody, taps into the Emerald Isle’s cultural themes to promise a story-based, casual experience.
In Scéal (pronounced “shkeal,” according to the developers), players take on the role of a little girl’s lost soul. She cannot remember her past, including how she died, and thus is stuck in a limbo-like state. In order to rest in peace, she must travel through a magical storybook, reliving events from her past and discovering details about her life. Guided by Fiach Dubh, a raven who escorts souls into the afterlife, the spirit must find three feathers hidden somewhere within the pages of the book before dawn in order to pass into the next life.
The distinctive watercolor art style and gameplay are closely linked. As the girl’s spirit moves through the world, she gradually brings life to the washed-out environment, which represents pages in the book and aspects of her past. Color returns to the world, and the people in the village in which the story takes place come back to life. She can then talk to them in order to understand more about her history and who she is. There are also “enchanted” areas you will have to manually paint, using either a finger (on mobile) or the mouse (on PC), providing an additional element of interactivity to the painting mechanic.
Various quests and tasks will be given by the villagers, who might want you to repaint an area using certain colors, for instance. The shades you can use at any given moment are determined by the girl’s ability to transform into either an angel, for brighter colors, or a banshee, for darker or less-cheerful colors. As you move through the environment using the mouse, buildings and other parts of the scenery will change and shift, in similar fashion to the way popup books move in response to turning the pages. If you move slowly, colors that appear will be more vivid and detailed, while moving quickly through the world will only sketch them in. The game’s music also promises to be distinctive, with Irish-language lyrics and folk-style melodies.
A fairly short game and budget-priced accordingly, Scéal has been released on Steam for Windows, with an iOS port planned at some point in future. Interested players should check out the official website for more information.