For some reason, cyberpunk hasn’t been well represented in the world of RPGs; aside from games such as Deus Ex, the genre hasn’t had much exposure in recent years. However, Korean publisher, Phantagram Interactive and Spanish developer, Trilobite Graphics (not of 7th Guest fame), hope to renew interest with their upcoming action-RPG, Duality. The game title actually refers to the parallel realms present in the game: the real world and cyberspace. While the concept is hardly original, Duality adds a fresh spin to the old formula by presenting the game’s events from three entirely different perspectives. This gritty, futuristic adventure promises three unique characters: each with different approaches to tackling their objectives. Players will be able to see through the eyes of an armed mercenary, a computer-savvy hacker and as an ethereal virtual being.
Duality begins as most sci-fi thrillers do… with industrial espionage. Phantagram invites players to step into the shoes of Travis, security agent and mercenary bad-ass foran influential mega-corporation. When a set of classified blueprints are stolen right from under Travis’ nose, it's up to the player to get them back before Travis’ masters issue him a pink slip and sign his death warrant. Along his journey to appease his employer, players will meet and eventually play as the hacker known as Sam and the AI known as Cube. The story will unfold from these three different views and along multiple paths before the tale completely unfolds.
As a mercenary, Travis is a destructive powerhouse equipped with powerful weapons and useful auto-targeting systems. Sam, however, lacks the enhanced combat functions of her contemporary and must aim manually. Thankfully she can still put up a good defense when not diving through encrypted computer systems. As a hacker, Sam must also set up traps and countermeasures to guard against unwelcome visitors while plugged into the network. The virtual being, Cube, is probably one of the most intriguing of the trio. As an entity that exists entirely within the world’s computer network, Cube is unable to directly interact with the real world, though wields almost divine power within the constraints of cyberspace. While these characters aren’t necessarily working together, they all are integral to the story.
Duality’s visuals thus far are striking with dark, gritty and detailed settings befitting an urban dystopia. Black, segmented body armor, menacing weapons, high-tech equipment and cybernetic enhancements set against the dank, oily backdrop of an unfriendly future are the order of the day. Trilobite Graphics has outdone themselves with a simply stunning array of brooding backdrops for the adventure. The character models are finely detailed with lofty polygon counts and unique design. Since Trilobite Graphics has opted to eschew all forms of heads-up display; instead, relying on a character’s appearance to convey their status, meticulous care has gone into the construction of all the player characters. As an action RPG, Duality will also have a plethora of items and equipment for players to choose from.
Duality borrows much of its gameplay from the cyberpunk classic, Deus Ex, as a hybrid real-time action/RPG filled with exploration, combat and puzzle solving. Duality also places a heavy emphasis on classic RPG elements such as an open-ended quest structure allowing for alternate paths, sub-quests and so on. The characters themselves will also evolve and gain new abilities throughout the game’s 30+ individual quests.
As a welcome respite from swords & sorcery, Duality may fill a thematic gap in RPG storytelling with futuristic styling. Though the game remains a long way off, we have faith that Trilobite Graphics and Phantagram Interactive will deliver an attractive, solid and enjoyable adventure as promised. Duality is slated for release on the PC and the XBox late this year.
©2003 Trilobite Graphics.
©2003 Phantagram Interactive.