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Bioshock creator Ken Levine’s Judas has roguelike elements, organic powers, and non-linear storytelling


Good news for people who don’t cringe violently every time they encounter the phrase “Narrative Legos”! We’ve finally got some more details about the extremely Bioshock-adjacent Judas, courtesy of the Ian Games Network, who spent six hours playing the game and chatting to Levine at Ghost Story Games in Boston. It’s a massive interview, but very broadly, it’s an FPS game that gives you guns in your right hand and “various organic powers” in your left. It’s got a big focus on story and choosing your own path through character interaction, and it also has roguelike elements. “The ship is different every time you die and come back, the ship layout can be different,” says Levine.

Judas, it terms out, is the name of the woman you’ve likely already seen in the trailers, who is also your player character. The game takes place aboard the Mayflower, a spaceship the size of a city doing that thing from Hitchhiker’s Guide with the hairdressers, only the Earth seems to have been in actual danger this time. You start the game being resurrected, or “reprinted”. You’ll then start chatting to holographic projections of the three leaders of the ship; all of which have different goals, roles, and Bioshock-ian quirks. They’re at odds with each other, and you’ll get to decide who to work with and against, hence “Narrative Legos” and “No two playthroughs ever…” yadayada, which is a phrase that seems almost quaint in terms of comparative obnoxiousness.

Levine, in the interview, says that after Bioshock Infinite, he “didn’t want to do another huge action movie. I wanted to turn more back into the player interaction.” Unlike the Bioshock games, your character in Judas isn’t an outsider coming to a place “that’s already collapsed.” Instead, you have a backstory and history on the Mayflower, “you fall into the shoes of this person who’s completely central to the story. When you wake up…the ship is in a state of collapse. You’re literally the last human being potentially alive in the universe.”

Last human alive or not, it still sounds like you’ll be interacting a lot with the projections of the ship leaders. Geoff Keighley, who interviewed Levine alongside IGN, describes a scene where he tried to get fuel for the ship, but Tom (one of the leaders) interfered. Levine responds “If they’re pissed at you, there’s a whole range of actions they can do. You have the ability to navigate the surface ship and choose where you go. It’s a very non-linear experience, but you’re trying to get fuel for your craft and Tom was pissed at you, and I’m sure he warned you ahead of time.”

There’s a couple of things hinted at here. I’m wondering if “surface ship” refers to some sort of Mako-like vehicle, and there’s also clearly some sort of reputation or affinity system happening with each of the leaders. Elsewhere in the interview, Levine also suggests the crystal-like device seen on Judas’ hand during the trailers is also related to a resurrection mechanic, involving organic 3D printing. It’s a massive interview! There’s loads there, although I’d say at least half of it is about Levine’s process and inspirations, if details are what you’re after. Worth a read, then, although you could just skip the discourse queue entirely by pre-empting the backlash to the backlash (to the thing that isn’t out yet.)

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