Prison Island, The Talking Fence, The Minefields, The Crossing and The Pass of Death: during his journey through a dystopian wonderland, 15-year-old Sami must confront obstacles of mythic proportions. Going back is not an option. Will he reach his final destination?
With Shadow Game we envision a game that starts out as an engaging journey and ends with the understanding that real teens are taking actual risks and go through almost surreal hardships.
A game based on the stories of young boys who already ‘played the game’, that will hopefully help to change how people see the reality of the journey that (young) refugees have to make in order to seek protection in Europe.
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In this game the disciplines of documentary, graphic novel and digital/interactive storytelling come together with the (indie) game world. Together with game companies Little Chicken (NL) and Happy Volcano (BE), we are developing a ‘third-person adventure game’ based on the journeys made by thousands of unaccompanied kids every year.
Sami the main character of Shadow Game, is not a standard video game action hero. Sami is from a war torn, poor country. With 15 years he is the oldest son of his family. He is a streetwise and resourceful kid. He has left his home country to find safety and a better future. During the course of the game he transforms from a naive boy into an adolescent, maturing fast in this harsh world. In Shadow Game players get to experience his story.
Sami just arrived on the shores of what he hoped was the promised land. However, he enters a dystopian world that is far from beautiful or safe. He sees that there is no help and that he is unwanted. Turning back is not an option. Escaping the war is just the beginning of his quest for a better future.
Sami travels through a dark and eerie land of gloom, confronted with obstacles of mythical proportions. With the background of Sami growing up during his epic odyssey, Shadow Game is a combination of a walking simulator and stealthy gameplay. In Shadow Game players get to experience his story of determination and despair, camaraderie and betrayal.
The game consists of five chapters: Prison Island, The Talking Fence, The Minefields, The Pass of Death and The Crossing. These locations mirror real life locations that refugees meet on their way into Europe. Each chapter represents a different type of challenge that has to be overcome.
Between the levels Sami reaches so-called Hubs. Hubs are relatively safe havens where Sami can prepare for the next stint of his travels.
For example: a small village that includes a café and a shop. The player can take the time to talk to people, gather intel and resources. This way the player also learns more about Sami’s background. When properly prepared Sami will leave for the next obstacle.
After preparing in the hubs, Sami goes ‘on game’. He enters the areas that present a danger that has to be overcome. This is where Sami will walk, run, sneak, climb and try to survive while reaching his next goal.
In the hub-levels Sami has to prepare his travels and make sure he has the right resources for the next stint. His phone is his main tool for contacting his mother and friends. And he uses GPS to plan his route. But he is also just a kid, who likes to post cool pics on social media.
Sami is on his own, but along the road he meets new and temporary friends and through their conversations, players learn more about the history of Sami. There are some people who want to help him, but also people who try to trick him. Who can he trust and which advice does he take?
The main purpose of Shadow Game is telling Sami’s story. A story many teens face on their way through Europe. During this tough journey Sami grows up fast. He regularly talks to his mother over the phone, and along the way he meets a whole range of characters that tell us about the extreme circumstances they go through. Mirroring Sami’s coming of age, we see the environment change. Going from spring to summer, fall and winter.
As Sami reaches his destination, he realizes he faces a whole new journey. Finding a home and being accepted by an alien society provide a whole new set of challenges. That however, is a different story…
Sara Kolster is the overall interactive director. Together with documentary director Eefje Blankevoort she developed the game concept. Sara kolster is a digital octopus, an interactive director/designer specialized in digital storytelling. She develops meaningful stories, most of them interactive or otherwise media-intertwined.
Little Chicken is a Dutch game development studio, founded in 2001. With several games released on PC, Consoles and mobile, Little Chicken provides the experience in game development.
Happy Volcano is an award-winning game development studio based in Leuven, Belgium. They develop all types of games, from VR experiences to serious games to console games.
Aimée de Jongh is an animator and author of graphic novels. Her work was awarded internationally. Whether it’s music videos, comics or visual journalism, Aimée is able to create a vibrant world with dynamic characters.
Niels ’t Hooft is a ‘hybrid’ writer of novels, games and apps. He provides the team with interactive storytelling skills and experience, as well as literary quality.