A slow, twisted odyssey through the heart of the American psyche and into the dark, estranged corners of our jungle-like minds. 1979's #ApocalypseNow is a film that continues to divide all who watch it. Some people scorn it for its candid self-awareness while others revere it for its sheer cinematic and auditory experimentation. For me, it held a black mirror up to the Stetson adorned face of western imperialism by shaking me to my bare, psychedelic core. I admit, it wasn't exactly a quiet night in.
Whatever you think about it, we can all agree that the elements that made it so exceptional as a film are exactly the things that might make it difficult to translate into an experience on your #XboxOne or #PS4. But, if the developers can pull it off, these are also the elements that could potentially turn Apocalypse Now into a gaming masterpiece. And, if any developers can pull it off, it's a collaboration of the guys and gals who made Fallout: New Vegas, Wasteland 2, Far Cry and, of course, Francis Ford Coppola himself.
What We Know About The 'Apocalypse Now' Game
First and foremost. This, if all goes to plan, will not be a shooter. No, this will be a psychological survival and horror RPG in which players will relive Coppola's creation in glorious first-person. "It's like Fallout: New Vegas on acid in the middle of the Vietnam War", and if you want to sit back and trip up on some acid while you're rocking to the Stones on your Erebus river boat, then that's exactly what you're gonna be able to do.
The developers are adamant that it will not be a shooter, which is why they have chosen to use Kickstarter to fund their project—so that the traditional publishers don't get their grubby paws on it. I agree, Apocalypse Now is not a war film in the normal sense. Instead, it is a film about war that explores the horrors and hypocrisies of a conflict fought for the hollow concepts of American 'democracy and freedom'.
The developers want to explore the same shady reflections of war that the film did with an RPG. Players will play as Captain Willard and, just like he does, they will form their own stories—this is an RPG, so how players develop their characters and how they journey upriver is up to them. Instead of trying to win the war single-handedly, players will have to engage in dialog, maintain resources and relationships with other characters, creep through the jungle as an assassin and avoid unwanted combat.
This is what I think is the most fascinating part of what we know so far about this project. Players will be able to play as and form their own Willard, a man who is already on the brink of insanity. Through their voyage and their actions, the world around the players will disintegrate into the fractured and the imaginary. It is this multi-faceted relationship between the character's mind and the setting that, I believe, the development team is really hoping to recreate.
What We Learnt From The Reddit AMA With The 'Apocalypse Now' Game Devs
On 31st January, to shed some light on the game, the developers sat down with Redditors. The AMA included plenty of discussion about the contents of the game, its Kickstarter aims and what fans can expect over the coming years. So, more specifically, here's what we learnt!
How Will The Game Be Set Apart From Future RPGs?
It looks like they are aiming to create a very organic RPG, in which you see the results of your actions in small progressive steps rather than immediate 90 degree developments.
They Don't Yet Know Which Platforms The Game Will Be Available On
For good reason, the developers don't yet know what platforms the game will be available on because they don't yet know what platforms will be available in 2020. Interestingly, they also mention VR capabilities here. I can't imagine what an Apocalypse Now game will look or feel like in VR, but I am sure as hell interested to find out.
What Resources They'll Use To Expand The 'Apocalypse Now' Universe
It's pretty clear they have the right idea when it comes to expanding the Apocalypse Now universe for the game. I am especially looking forward to the 60s soundtrack!
How They'll Stack Up Against AAA Titles
It looks like the team is much more interested in making a great experience rather than a big game. They also say that budget hinderance will not be a problem when stacking themselves up against AAA titles, as they'll be free to use daring design and narrative techniques, just like in the film.
Original Characters From The Film?
There is nothing better in a game than great voice acting. The original characters will be there!
Will We Be Able To Surf?
It's starting to sound like a GTA game set in Vietnam! We can most certainly surf, people.
Will We Be Restricted To Just The Story From The Film?
This was a very interesting answer as it gives us some idea of what the expanded Apocalypse Now universe will look like. I was hoping that this would not be a straightforward film to game translation, and this answer confirms it won't be. There'll be a mission, but it's up to us how we go about completing it. There will also be other story arcs not in the film that are based on the characters in the book, Heart of Darkness, which the film is loosely based on.
How Much Content Are We Looking At?
It sounds pretty huge at this point, with anywhere between 18 and 40 hours of gameplay being the aim, but it is all dependent on what sort of budget they end up with. Quality over content though, right people?
Why I'm Excited For The 'Apocalypse Now' Game And Why You Should Be Too!
While many people rightfully will have their reservations about another high profile film-to-game production, I do feel like my initial reservations have been collectively quashed after reading more about the development team and their path for the game. On top of that, they have official backing and involvement from American Zoetrope, the production company behind the 1979 film, and Francis Coppola will be on the development team. It doesn't get much better than that, does it?
It's in non-traditional safe hands for sure and I am happy about it. But, that's not the real reason why I'm really excited. The real reason is down almost entirely to the raw potential that the environment, characters and experimental atmosphere of the film could potentially bring to the table.
Apocalypse Now is a story about strangers in a strange land, about the effect of war on the mind, a journey into madness and the resulting foggy dark of insanity. It is all of these things built on top of the creaky, half-imagined scaffolding of illusion and a grim, hallucinatory atmosphere. If the development team can mould a game from these crude, but brilliant, building blocks, then we're in for something very special indeed.
Are you excited about the Apocalypse Now game? Let us know in the comments!