"Nowhere," an in-development project by a German two-person studio called Duangle, is probably the most creative first-person sandbox game pitch I've ever heard. A quick and dirty comparison might be something like "Spore," but within a persistent single-player saga.
It's stark black-light visuals notwithstanding, it takes a bit of explaining to see what makes "Nowhere" so cool. Luckily, Duangle have put together a nice little video explaining their game. The real meat is a few minutes in, so be patient:
The idea of an emergent, persistent society -- populated by neon, tentacled, cosmic crabs like the one shown above -- that adapts to players' choices is so tantalizing, so intriguing. In the sense that it attempts to illustrate player choice though several generations, "Nowhere" kind of sounds like a cosmic version of Mousechief's "7 Grand Steps."
Because you play as various Nowherians over the course of the game, you may have to fight in a war that you started four turns ago. Or maybe you were, in a former life, a wildly successful trader -- what happens if you come back as a member of a different tribe, bankrupted by your former self? The possibilities -- at least insofar as Duangle explained them -- are fascinating.
Right now, "Nowhere" is pretty basic, but planet-building, exploration, dialog trees, trade, time travel, and combat are all being worked on.
That punch-drunk ambition and intoxicating scope and breadth come with a price, though: Duangle think they need €120,000 and two years of development time to create "Nowhere," with an estimated release window of Winter 2015. Custom game engines and proprietary sculpting software is expensive, I reckon, not to mention support for the Occulus Rift.
To raise the sweet, sweet cash needed to finish "Nowhere," Duangle are selling the game in Alpha form. For $21, you can start poking around in an early build of "Nowhere"; when the game is finished, you'll get that, too. For those of you with particularly deep pockets, there are eight different reward tiers offering -- as usual -- a variety of goodies.
If all goes according to insanely optimistic plan, "Nowhere" will be available for PC, Mac, and Linux in a few years. We'll surely see a Kickstarter or Steam Greenlight campaign at some point, too: even if it doesn't work, the very idea of "Nowhere" is too good to pass up.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter