The Long Journey by Usoni, a post-apocalyptic African game

In recent years, Kenya has become a rapidly growing technology hub, and in 2010 it was called WIRED Savannah Silicon. According to Douglas Ojito, CEO of the Nairobi-based African Games publisher Lodic worksThere are as many as 20 professional video game studios in the country. “We are still a little behind South Africa,” he says, “but the gaming industry is developing rapidly as Kenya benefits from affordable mobile data, new educational institutions focused on game development skills, and a growing market for young people who have access to smartphones.”

Making a first-of-its-kind video game for both Rigaudis and Musau. To start the face The project, they founded Jiwe in June 2020 and recruited dozens of young professionals. They included Telvin Njoroge, 25, and Arnold Mwaura, 22, the two self-made game developers who worked on the game from last summer through February.

The Face Part One It is a 2.5D puzzle platform. Players lead Ophelia and Ulysses as they flee Paris towards the boat that will take them to the gateway to Africa, the island of Lampedusa. They have to cross industrial ruins, refugee camps and hostile areas controlled by the Great Border Police. In between, their smuggler Felix asked Ulysses to find a drug in an abandoned laboratory to treat his wife.

“We worked together in the beginning,” says Mwaura. “Once we knew what he could do and what he could do, we broke things down. Telvin worked on the AI ​​side of the game, and I worked on the level.”

After the alpha was released last December, they spent a lot of time fixing bugs for the final launch. “We had a long list,” Ngorog recalled, as he laughed and searched for the file on his computer. “One of the main problems we had was with our AI; it wasn’t keeping up with the players. At some point, the character was supposed to climb a certain ledge, and went up and up without stopping.”

At this point, most of the bugs have been fixed and the gameplay experience is smooth, except for the last sequence, where Ulysses and Ophelia are sometimes stuck for several seconds in strange positions when caught in trenches, where they are inevitably shot at from the border police.

After two unsuccessful attempts, I jumped over all the trenches and finally got into the boat. In the final cut scene, he moves away from the shore and disappears into the fog. Then on my screen appeared a message “to continue” on a black background. After only half an hour of playing it was such a frustrating note, as I just started feeling immersed in the face Universe.

However, this short first part is intended to be an aperitif for a richer and longer sequel which will dig deeper into the visual and narrative potential of the story.

The team at Jiwe is working on The Obverse: Part Two, Which they expect to release in July or August 2021, before A. the third part Scheduled for 2022. Both will be developed in 3D. “at part two, We’ll be avatars, and players will learn the backstories of Ophelia and other people around her like Ulysses, ”says Kennady Kilo. At 31, this 3D artist leads the work to create a the face Universe.

The visual world of the post-apocalyptic game and the cut scenes are compelling, but it’s clear where they came from. “He inspired us Blade Runner 2049 And video games like Far Cry New Dawn And the The Last of Us, Part 2 Kyalo says. “We wanted to convey a sense of mystery, which is why we used a lot of fog to mask the environment. We also wanted to play with the winter atmosphere, where the sun has stopped coming out. It’s dark and cold, and you can’t really tell the time.”

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