Though the third season of Westworld is still a long time out, HBO and VR developer Survios have something to help ease that long gap before the next major arc begins. Revealed at Gamescom 2019, Westworld Awakenings is a new VR experience set within the world of HBO series. Focusing on an original story that occurs parallel with some of the significant events from Seasons 1 and 2, offers some subtle clues about the history of Delos and the fates of some characters from the TV series. Before the reveal, we had some hands-on time with the game running on the HTC Vive and spoke with some developers about how they went about adapting Westworld for VR.
Westworld Awakenings takes place during the events of Season 2, following the violent clash between hosts and the members of Delos. You take control of Kate Weston, a Host–biomechanical android and NPC in Westworld–who’s the central character of a storyline involving a grizzly murder in an isolated farmhouse. Initially, you’ll explore the seemingly abandoned home, picking up clues and learning more of what happened in the house. Eventually, the layers of Kate’s reality are peeled back, revealing the real purpose of her existence.
What’s interesting about a Westworld game is that the TV series already has some basis within the formula of a videogame. Set in the titular theme park, it often casts light on the creative process and struggles of trying to keep things interesting for visitors. Many elements of the show also focus a lot on quest-design and player agency, common design concepts in videogames. Speaking with Survios developer and Westworld Awakenings project lead Daniel Zeligman, he talked about their collaboration HBO and how they fleshed out the ideas from the show for the game.
“Tackling an IP like this that is so character and narrative-focused was very challenging,” he said. “There was a lot of iteration across the board. Many of the discussions with HBO and my team were about to figure out what type of game this is, and what it’s like to be in Westworld. This was not only from a mechanical level but also from a narrative level. Westworld is always about asking questions about identity and agency–particularly the idea of an internal presence and also philosophical concepts as well. Then we introduced more of the videogame design as well, in how we bring everything together for the game. It was a marriage of both worlds.”
What I found interesting about Awakenings is that it has more in common with adventure games like Gone Home, while also showing some sides of horror from Amnesia. Instead of focusing on the gunfights and carnage that you’d often see in Westworld, the game leans more on the drama and thriller elements of the series. With VR, this can present some moments that felt very unnerving, tasking you to explore areas that put me on edge. Kate will eventually find herself within the halls of the Delos laboratory, immediately following the Host uprising. With the help of a guide, a former Delos scientist who designed the Hosts and Kate’s storyline, Kate will be able to use Delos devices to reprogram other Hosts and manipulate other aspects of the environment. Not only will this assist with solving puzzles, but it will also help her avoid the roaming slasher Host from her storyline who’s gone rogue.
Set for release on August 20 for HTC Vive and Oculus, Westworld Awakening could be an interesting dive for diehard fans of the series. While Westworld often has a reputation for being a bit challenging to dive into, Awakenings’ opening does well to ease players into the story, which will undoubtedly get more subversive as it progresses. According to the developers, Awakenings will have plenty of easter-eggs and mentions for fans to focus on. Given that season 3 is set for sometime in 2020, this VR trip into an unseen side of Delos could be a fun trip to tide fans over. It may even offer some clues into what to expect from season 3.
from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/new-westworld-game-awakenings-takes-some-cues-from/1100-6469205/