Newly-formed Melbourne-based game studio Summerfall Studios is anything but inexperienced. It’s first title, Chorus, is the brainchild of former BioWare writer David Gaider and narrative designer Liam Esler. The pair took to Fig to seek funding for their new “adventure musical,” but not before assembling a team of industry veterans.
Voice acting superstars Troy Baker (Uncharted, BioShock: Infinite, The Last of Us) and Laura Bailey (Persona 4, Fire Emblem Awakening, Skyrim) already have their names attached to the project, alongside renown composer Austin Wintory (Journey, Abzu, The Banner Saga). David Gaider, unsurprisingly, has taken up the role of writer while Liam Esler finds himself in the managing director’s seat. With such a talented and well-respected team, it’s no surprise that Chorus surpassed it’s $600,000 goal with time to spare.
Esler admits in an interview that there’s been a lull in both the success and innovation for narrative-driven games as of late, citing Life is Strange as one of the last greats. Walking simulators have since dominated the space, but even the most avid consumer of the genre can admit to a shared mundanity within the narrative game pool. Gaider and Esler’s shared interest in narrative-driven games and traditional musicals proved to be the catalyst for what they hope to be the revitalization of the narrative-driven game.
Chorus pulls obvious inspiration from musicals like Wicked and Hadestown and games like Gaider’s Dragon Age. Visually, one could draw comparisons between it and Supergiant’s Transistor or Hades. But the melding of musical performance and traditional decision-making represents a wholly new concept that will definitely turn heads.
Stories through song
Chorus puts the spotlight on Laura Bailey’s Grace, a songstress surviving in a modern fantasy land using the power of her singing voice—a rather curious weapon to fend off the Greek-inspired creatures and gods that inhabit this world. As the newest Muse of the Chorus, Grace must prove her innocence in the death of the Muse preceding her. To clear Grace’s name, players engage in interactive musical numbers, making tough decisions that not only dictate the direction of the game, but also change the lyrics and musical direction of the songs. Grace’s performance can change a character’s opinion of her or even force them to reveal information that they would have otherwise kept to themselves.
Players will choose one of three traits for Grace: kickass, clever, and charming. Each trait opens up new possibilities in how players will handle the situations the game throws at them. These range from negotiations to stealth, but continue over into the musical numbers as well.
The future of Chorus
Players can secure an early copy of the game for a pledge of $22. For $50, players can get the game, the soundtrack, an exclusive short story and comic, and a few extra goodies. $80 will land you all of the above, plus an art book, a preview of the songs, and more. Up at the very top, a whopping $20,000 pledge will get you far too many things to mention, but notably, a VIP ticket to the launch party, your own D&D one shot run by David Gaider, and a private studio tour.
Things are shaping up nicely for the game; Summerfall Studios is unlikely to disappoint. It’s too early for a solid release date, but for now, the studio is looking at Q4 2021. Currently, the team is eyeing a PC-only release.