Wadjet Eye Games, publisher of point and click adventure games such as Resonance and The Shivah: Kosher Edition, the latter of which they developed, has announced A Golden Wake to be their next title in development. The game comes from indie developer Francisco Gonzalez of Grundislav Games. The company is publishing the game with Wadjet Eye in a partnership capacity. The game stays with the genre of Wadjet Eye’s previous titles, as it is a point and click adventure game. The hook seems to be that the game is set in the Roaring Twenties, a time period not often explored in gaming.
Previous Wadjet Eye game settings have run the gamut, from the surreal New York backdrop of The Blackwell Legacy series of games and the more realistic New York seen in The Shivah, to the post-apocalyptic backdrop of Primordia and the sci-fi lab explored inResonance. Wadjet Eye Games is a publisher that may focus exclusively on one general game mechanic that many seem to believe is part of a bygone era, but for what they may lack in gameplay variety, they more than make up for it in the variety of their game settings. Point and click adventures have to have worthwhile stories to succeed, that much is clear, but the context in which these stories are told is just as important to making these adventures memorable, and Wadjet Eye Games and developer Grundislav Games seem to believe that the Roaring Twenties is the next locale in which to tell a great tale.
The 1920s are marked by many things: extreme pockets of wealth and poverty, prohibition, bootlegging, flappers, speakeasies, and in later years, national catastrophe and decline. This is a rich era from which to draw for a great point and click adventure, one that can potentially show the highs and lows of such a unique decade in American history.
The current synopsis of the game seems to hint at just such an exploration of the dynamic themes of the time period:
“The Roaring Twenties: a bygone era of glitz, glamour, and promise. In Coral Gables — a booming housing development near Miami, Florida — the real estate market is taking off and even an ordinary guy like Alfie Banks has a chance to strike it rich. But with the mob on his back, the Great Depression on the horizon, and the Sunshine State’s idyllic waterfront only a hurricane away from total devastation, Alfie’s quest will not be an easy one[.]”
The games protagonist seems to be placed in the center of the clashing dynamic of the excess of the 1920s and the inevitability of having to pay for it down the line. This contrast is key in any story involving the Roaring Twenties, the most prominent example of such being the classic novel The Great Gatsby.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, Jay Gatsby finds himself in the middle of an identity crisis, exasperated by the adrift sentiment of the post-World War I world in which he finds himself. Gatsby’s obsessive nature, combined with the surreptitiously harsh realities of such seemingly joyous times, lead to him inevitably paying hard for the rewards he reaped from the duplicitous era in which he had once thrived.
The Great Gatsby is pretty much objectively the best example of storytelling in the Roaring Twenties setting to date, but the era is still rich with opportunity for more stories exploring the same contradictions in new ways, or blazing their own trails thematically. A point and click narrative could in one moment explore the excessive night life of the time, then transition smoothly into a tense bootlegger negotiation in an eerily quiet, empty speakeasy. The devs could use Alfie Banks, A Golden Wake‘s protagonist, for an updated character study of a person torn between the two sides of the lavish time period. The uproarious music, the culture, and the vague tension with regard to when the other shoe is going to fall (on both the crime and the cocktail parties) are all great reasons to set a narrative in the Roaring Twenties. From the small amount of information we now know about A Golden Wake, I am interested not because I particularly love point and click adventure games, or because of the indie retro graphics that come with many such games. I am interested because of the few great pieces of fiction regarding this era that I have come across before, and the still untapped potential a setting such as this one holds. Hopefully with A Golden Wake, we will see something uniquely perfect for the Roaring Twenties setting, and perhaps have a video game to add to the comparatively sparse number of narratives that have benefited greatly from that wild time period.
A Golden Wake is expected to release in the fall for PC.