The question of whether videogames are art can be hotly debated, but Small Island Games' upcoming Haiku Adventure will make a strong case for "yes" next year, both when the game itself is released and when the craft behind it is exhibited at London's William Morris Gallery.
Haiku Adventure tells the "poetic story of an old soul’s journey across rich and varied landscapes, as they quest to stop a volcano that would destroy the natural environment they have come to hold so dear." Along the way, players will experience a "philosophical narrative that questions the place of civilisation in nature" and is driven by a "unique puzzle mechanic derived from the structural form of haiku poetry."
The visual design of this magical realist adventure includes "distinctive handcrafted environmental art and character animation" that have been "crafted in celebration of the traditions of ukiyo-e woodblock prints and haiku poetry." Puzzle-solving involves players piecing together their own poems using select dialogue fragments, which in turn move the story forward.
A degree of freedom will be allowed in composing your haikus to impact the result, but any variations to the overall linear narrative are expected to be subtle rather than overt plot branches. Some "interesting moral questions" will be posed as well, requiring players to reflect on "themes of how humanity and nature coexist." Completing each poem will present players with a "haiku card with an image representing the puzzle solved and the particular haiku they used to solve it," creating a unique collection for each playthrough, depending on your approach.
The small indie team is planning a crowdfunding campaign to complete this title for PC and mobile devices by next summer, but if you happen to be in the UK before then, you can check out the Haiku Adventure: The Craft of Games display at the William Morris Gallery in London. Running from February 23 – May 26, the exhibit promises to juxtapose "the game and its development against examples of the Japanese woodblock prints and the processes of their craft" that inspired it." To learn more about the game itself, be sure to visit the developer's website for additional details.