Now more than ever, escapist fantasies are a common coping mechanism for the everyday doldrums and nagging anxieties we experience. But what if we actually got our wish and left everything and everyone we knew behind for a life of stress-free relaxation, but found that this fresh start didn't turn out to be all that we imagined it would be? This is the premise of The Life of Frederick Sommer, a short first-person adventure due out early next year from New Zealand-based developer Zakary Kinnaird and his studio The Appreciative Minimalist.
Taking inspiration from What Remains of Edith Finch, the game drops players “alone at sea with nothing but a few books and a lifetime of memories” to explore. Centered on the “relationships with your fiancée and your wealthy father in law” and “the mystery that connects you together,” the issue of “how you got here and the truth about how hard it is to escape your life and the people close to you” drives the narrative forward.
Featuring a distinctive “8-bit retro 3D art style” that pairs well with the escapist theme, The Life of Frederick Sommer promises mysteries to uncover through exploration and “light puzzle” elements in addition to other non-linear narrative-centric mechanics. The boat you begin the game on is described as a “hub world” in which objects can be interacted with to introduce playable flashbacks “where you escaped life in the past.” One such example is your model of the Apollo Lunar Module that triggers a scene in which you must attempt to land on the moon using the module’s controls, just as you pretended to do as a child, though perhaps not playing out nearly as smoothly or successfully this time. Along the way, players will engage in various other activities as well, whether you want to “read books on the deck, collect shells on the beach, or just relax by the poolside.”
The Life of Frederick Sommer is tentatively scheduled to set sail on Steam for Windows and Mac in February 2021. In the meantime, you can learn more about the game at its official website.