Any good theatre plays host to countless different worlds and stories, according to the various performances enacted upon its stage. But the one in Punk Notion's upcoming genre-bending adventure Ars Fabulae does so far more literally than most.
When they were younger, "the Actress and the Director were full of dreams and ambitions," and together they formed a theatre in the British countryside. Decades later, following the death of director Robert Chardish, Ella returns to the theatre from America to "once more become the performer, the audience and the muse." Upon her arrival, she encounters a number of significant letters, notes and radio interviews left behind by her old friend, but with them she finds something quite unexpected and "much more valuable" in the form of theatre masks. By donning these masks, you will not only "attend the last show of a famous artist reflecting on his defining moments and your role in his life," you will actually get to live them.
Described as a "reflection on power of creative expression, told through a mixture of video game genres," Ars Fabulae allows players to directly enter a series of performances, "replaying events of the past seen through the eye of an artist." Not unlike the format of What Remains of Edith Finch, each individual scenario here tells its own story with different characters, setting and gameplay mechanics, whether a "robot escaping a factory or a little, conceited musketeer." These discrete levels are all "built around certain core emotions" and contain their own particular message, but eventually their "seemingly unrelated plots start to come together, creating a bigger picture." Like the developer's previous game, Weakless, this is a third-person direct-controlled adventure, but here the use of VR painting technology allows for "more expressive freedom in shaping the artistic vision of the Director."
There is no firm target release date just, but Ars Fabulae is due to be launched on Steam for Windows PC sometime later this year, with console versions also being considered. However, you can get a taste of what to expect through the playable demo available now for download, but only during the Summer Steam Game Festival that runs until June 22nd.
Update: Since time of writing, this game has been renamed The Last Show of Mr. Chardish.