I first had the pleasure of meeting White Paper Games at Rezzed in April 2014, after being contacted by co-founder Pete Bottomley about Ether One. I then caught up with him and technical artist James Burton at EGX later that year where I got the chance to interview them: a kid started playing the EastEnders theme tune on a nearby piano during the recording.
If you haven’t played Ether One already and are a fan of adventures, you’re missing out on something special. Players step into the role of ‘Restorer’ and it’s their job to investigate the thoughts of Jean Thompson, a 69-year-old woman diagnosed with dementia. Her memories must be reconstructed using three-dimensional simulations of the details she can remember, collecting red bows tied to objects and solving puzzles scattered throughout the environment. It’s a very beautiful and touching game.
After the hype around their first project, news about White Paper Games slowed down and I didn’t hear much about the team for a while. Then when on a break during volunteering at this year’s Rezzed event, I asked my other-half to tell me one game I should check out and he nominated The Occupation. Low and behold: there was James and the rest of the guys to promote their second game.
The Occupation is a politically-driven narrative title set in the north-west of England during the 1980s, in which you play as a whistleblowing journalist. A terrorist attack which left 23 people dead has become a catalyst for the creation of The Union Act: a controversial piece of law which threatens the civil liberties of the British population. Is the cost of an extreme action outweighed by the cause of the greater good?
You’re the reporter and so you get to decide the story. One of the things I liked most about the game was that it takes place over a period of just over four hours and events happen in real-time. Players must make decisions based on the evidence around them, their actions determining the outcome of the act and the future of the country. It looks every bit as gorgeous as Ether One: the art-style is similar but further refined, and it definitely has that White-Paper-Games-vibe about it.
After a quick catch-up with James, I had to get back to the SpecialEffect stand for more volunteering duties but vowed to return to try out The Occupation when I had more free time. That opportunity came on Saturday while my stepson was with my other-half Pete at the event. I say ‘opportunity’ but what I mean was ‘two minutes… let me explain.
Kim (@kissingthepixel) April 01, 2017
While Pete chatted to 3D artist Scott Wells-Foster, I sat down at the last available PC and started playing while Ethan watched me. He then asked if he could have the headphones so he could listen to the sound while I played. He then decided to sit on my lap so he could see better (thankfully the stool didn’t break under our weight); and slowly his hands started reaching up for the keyboard. Eventually I stepped away completely to let him have the experience to himself.
Despite only having a couple of minutes with the game myself, it’s one I’ll be keeping an eye out for and will be buying as soon as it’s released. Any title that doesn’t contain guns or explosions and isn’t Minecraft yet can still capture the attention of a nine-year-old has got to be good! But seriously though, The Occupation has received some great feedback so far: it was picked as one of The Guardian’s 12 most interesting games and it was reportedly Ken Levine’s favourite title at Rezzed.
Catching up with White Paper Games reminded me just how much I’d enjoyed Ether One, so I’ve decided to make a slight change to the titles I’m going to be playing during the Gamely Giving marathon stream at the end of the month. You’ll be able to watch me playing this adventure from 04:00 GMT on Monday, 01 May 2017 over on the Twitch channel – while wearing my new awesome Ether One t-shirt, of course.
For more information on The Occupation, head over to the official website and follow the White Paper Games team on Twitter. No release date has been announced just yet but hopefully we’ll get our hands on the game later this year.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.