Indigenous voices are significantly underrepresented in the gaming industry, but indie developer Achimostawinan Games and a group of supportive Kickstarter backers are hoping to change that with the upcoming cybernoir mystery, Hill Agency: PURITY&decay.
It's 2262, a time of "mind wiping drugs and flying palaces," when almost all of the major cities of North America are gone. Meeygun Hill is a "tough as nails P.I." working the metropolis slums of Akâmaskiy, where "life is all missing kids and cheating spouses" until a client named Mary LaPensée shows up at the office. An "elite citizen of the Risen City," Mary explains that her "sister has been murdered and the cops are useless." The pair will need to team up to identify who the killer is, but along the way they may just find thesmelves drawn into "a conspiracy that goes deeper than either of them could ever have imagined."
Presented in a stylish "hand-drawn cybernoir-inspired aesthetic," Hill Agency comprises three "vastly different" areas of this "Indigenous future sovereign nation" consisting of "The Ground, the Risen City, and the Flying Palace." In each players are challenged to "use their wits rather than guess-work," as "YOU are the thinking machine" behind this investigation. Along with the main murder case, you'll be tasked with solving "everything from petty crimes to global conspiracies," which means thoroughly exploring "every nook and alley," interviewing witnesses and suspects, and collecting evidence. Meeygun's notebook will serve as both the inventory system and a record of everything you've learned, broken down into "Witness Profiles, Physical Evidence, Statements and Persons of Interest." You can also "use terminals to search the 'net' and uncover new layers of history," and when you find relevant clues there are "evidence boards to sort out your thoughts."
Unlike so many mysteries that require little more than following a proverbial trail of breadcrumbs, what further helps this game stand out is the ability to be wrong. When you feel you've compiled a strong enough case, you can "fill out paperwork to make an accusation like a real detective." This is possible even if you're incorrect, as "at the Hill Agency there are no do-overs, only pressing forward to find the truth." The story will change accordingly, but the game "weaves mistakes into the narrative itself." Your reputation may suffer, but often you will have the option of "uncovering new evidence to undo what you’ve done," though that shouldn't be considered a license to be reckless because "it gets increasingly harder" to atone for your errors in judgment.
Hill Agency comes by its Indigenous influences honestly, as it is "the brainchild of Metis game designer Meagan Byrne and Maliseet animator Tara Miller," and Achimostawinan Games utilizes an Advisory Council of Indigenous creatives in order to help "navigate the possibility of cross-nation appropriation." Originally conceived as part of a Dames Making Games jam, Hill Agency has since been expanded into a prototype called "BARK&byte," which was successfully funded through Kickstarter. The plan from here is to finish polishing the prototype and use it as a launchboard into production of the full game, which is due to arrive in September 2021 on Windows, Mac and Nintendo Switch.
To learn more about Hill Agency: PURITY&decay in the meantime, drop by the official website for additional details.