I’m a fan of strangeness in my videogames. If I can’t get a fairly solid grasp on a game within 30 seconds of first looking at it, chances are I’m going to like it. That’s why I’m so excited for Cradle, the debut offering from Ukrainian studio Flying Cafe for Semianimals: I’ve been following this thing for the better part of a year and I still have no idea what it’s all about.
Set several decades in the future, Cradle is a first-person adventure game about a mysterious, malfunctioning android woman, a Mongolian yurt and a dilapidated amusement park. I know that’s not terribly informative, but I suspect that’s the point. Flying Cafe Creative Director Ilya Tolmachev describes Cradle as “a strange, beautiful dream filled with anticipation of discovering a deep, old mystery,” and uncovering the secrets of your robotic companion and the abandoned carnival nearby is the central goal of the game. It wouldn’t do to give too much away.
Tolmachev did say, however, that a big part of the payoff would be found not in solving the conventional puzzles but in the “analytical reconstruction” of the events that preceded the game. “Cradle is about searching for story fragments and putting them together,” he explained. “The casual [puzzle] part of the game was included as a place to take rest from the analytical efforts. It is designed to add emotional balance to the game, and not to let you get exhausted from unfolding the story tangle.”
The screenshots and gameplay videos that have been revealed to this point give off a very Myst-like vibe, and also look absolutely breathtaking. Cradle promises freedom of movement within the game world and a mix of “classic quest mechanics with dynamic arcade puzzles,” as well as bonuses for players who discover various hidden objects and even alternative endings.
The game was unveiled in late 2011 but recently made its way to Steam Greenlight, which allows people to vote on games they believe should be added to the Steam digital distribution platform. The general sense of confusion that greeted those who discovered it early has followed Cradle to Greenlight, but so has the sense that this might be a genuinely unique and memorable experience. As a result, it’s doing pretty well for itself, climbing to the 58th position on the voting list at last check.
It obviously won’t be for everyone. Some people don’t like the Myst aesthetic, some people don’t like the unusual perspective that Eastern European game studios bring to their work, and some people just plain don’t like weird things. Cradle will offer all three, and that could very well leave it an incoherent, ugly mess. But it might work, too; it might be just be everything it promises. And wouldn’t that be something?
Greenlight Spotlight is a featured series on Gamezebo that profiles Steam Greenlight candidates that deserve your vote. We’re doing this in the hopes of calling attention to interesting projects that would benefit from distribution on Steam, so please, if a game looks like something you’d want to play, don’t hesitate to lend it your support!