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First details delivered for Red Thread’s Dustborn

Cross-country road trips are fun. Or at least, they can be when you're not pregnant and on the run with enemies both on your tail and standing in your way. Then again, maybe that makes it more fun. That's certainly what Red Thread Games believes, as they've just formally unveiled their next title, an "alternate-future Neo-Western" action-adventure game called Dustborn.

The year is 2030, three decades after an "infodemic" left the country irreparably torn apart. Players control Pax, an "ex-con, outcast, con-artist, and Anomal with superhuman powers fuelled by disinformation." Your job is to deliver a mysterious package to its destination, which means crossing "a Divided States of America ruled by the authoritarian Justice, from Pacifica to the Free Nation of Nova Scotia, staying one step ahead of the fanatical Puritans." Even at the best of times, "this is not a one-woman job," but especially not for one who's four months pregnant. If you're to "reach your final destination and escape your troubled past," you'll need to recruit and travel with a "motley mob of misfits with their own weird powers" in order to "overcome the many obstacles that stand in your way – through manipulation, subterfuge, and force."

A departure from the more realistic art style of Red Thread's previous adventures, Dreamfall Chapters and Draugen, Dustborn features a "vibrant and original dystopian vision of the near future, with a colourful and mature graphic novel look" not unlike Telltale's Tales from the Borderlands. The journey across a continent "irrevocably changed by civil war, mass migration, and global warming" will take players to a variety of pit stops along the way, "from a former government re-education camp in the Oregon wilderness, to a decommissioned school for gifted children in Nevada; from an abandoned Utah mall to the derelict robot factories of Detroit – and through the mysterious Great Plains Exclusion Zone, where strange experiments take place in the ashes of the Broadcast."

Written by Ragnar Tørnquist, this road trip adventure promises a story "about hope, love, friendship, robots – and the power of words." Pax's abilities allow her to fight foes with "weaponised words, and use wordcraft in conversations to manipulate people with the power of disinformation." You can even upgrade your verbal ammunition as you "discover, record and remix arcane Echoes to craft new words, and learn to wield a lingual arsenal against enemies...and friends." As you recruit new members to your team, each with their own "compelling stories and clashing personalities," you must manage this "headstrong crew" through both your actions and a "dynamic and emotionally reactive branching conversation system, where your choices shape relationships." And some words are best set to music: as you're traveling "undercover as a folk-punk-rock band," you must "maintain your disguise by learning to play a set of original songs around the campfire…before proving yourself in an epic Battle of the Bands."

There is no firm target release date for Dustborn at this early stage, but the game is due to be launched on Steam for Windows PC, along with as-yet-unspecified consoles sometimes in 2021. To follow its progress in the meantime, be sure to drop by the official website.

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