One of my favourite games of Rezzed last year surprisingly turned out to be Four Last Things, a quirky little point-and-click created by Joe Richardson and hosted in the Leftfield Collection area. It was the last title to be added to my expo to-do list and I did so on a bit of a whim, because it certainly looked unique but I wondered whether it would end up being a little too leftfield for my taste.
You see, the game is made entirely from Renaissance-era paintings and public domain recordings of classical music; and its storyline about the Four Last Things (Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell) could potentially be a heavy subject matter. Instead it’s given a cheeky spin and what you’re presented with is something that feels almost as if The Secret of Monkey Island had been made in 16th century Flanders by a time-travelling Monty Python fan. It sounds like the weirdest thing but trust me: it works.
I enjoyed the Rezzed demo so much that I purchased the game and played it during our GameBlast17 marathon, followed by Richardson’s previous release The Preposterous Awesomeness of Everything. This adventure about progress, politics and propulsive nozzles was one of the highlights of the stream and we all fell in love with the game’s ‘random’ personality, with those watching at the time kept putting in requests for me to use the backflip button or visit the cat on the title screen.
When I heard that the developer had launched a crowdfunding campaign for a sequel to Four Last Things, I hurried on over to Kickstarter and made my pledge before event watching the promotional video. The Procession to Calvary sees the same protagonist return from his brief sojourn in hell and continue his quest for absolution. Will he turn to the Bible for answers? Will he become a Mennonite, take a dunk in the lake, then hide in a bush until the whole thing blows over? Or will he stick to his guns and follow his old masters South?
Richardson doesn’t actually know yet because he hasn’t finished writing the story! This isn’t unusual though and he says on the Kickstarter page: “When developing Four Last Things I created all the artwork before writing a single line of dialogue. This technique allows me to focus on making the artwork look as good as possible which, for me, is the most important part of these games. It also encourages a more surreal / silly story, which I think fits well with the style of the art.”
Speaking of the artwork, the visuals are made by cutting up, collaging and animating classical paintings. Some scenes are made from just a few images while others incorporate many blended into a not-entirely-coherent whole, and it’s this cut-and-paste method that gives the developer’s work such a unique feel. With the right paintings Richardson is able to achieve a good effect; and using Unity and Anima2D rather than Flash this time means more complex animations are possible.
You can get your hands on a copy of the game for just a £10 pledge but if you’ve got more cash to splash, it’s worth looking at the higher tiers. For £150 you can get a portrait of your face included in the Patrons Gallery after your photograph has been incorporated into an existing Renaissance painting using ‘some fancy Photoshopery’. And if you’ve got £1,000 to spare, you can request a personalised build of the release made just for you – perfect if you want the main character’s face replaced by yours or all the music overwritten by Skrillex tracks.
The Procession to Calvary is scheduled for release around April 2019 on PC, Mac and Linux and you’ve got until 06 September 2018 if you want to back the Kickstarter campaign. Visit the official website to find out more or follow Richardson on Twitter to stay up-to-date on progress.