As you know, we’re always on the lookout for quality adventure games here at Diehard GameFAN. So far 2012 has some nice ones lined up like Captain Morgane and The Second Guest. Perhaps the most unique however is coming from a little Italian company named Adventure Productions. Back in late November, I watched the teaser trailer for the game and also went spent a lot of time on the web site. The core storyline intrigued me, and the graphics appeared to be a nice mix of traditional adventure game graphics with some nice looking comic book art to boot. I knew this episodic series would be something I definitely be picking up in 2012 and more importantly, I wanted to make sure you, our readers, knew about it as well. I contacted Adventure Productions to see if they’d be willing to answer a few questions about the Shadows on the Vatican series and to my surprise, not one, but three, of the staff there were happy to give me more information about what you can expect once the series is released. Hopefully by the time you’re done reading this interview, you’re as interested in the Shadows on the Vatican as I am.
Diehard GameFAN: Shadows on the Vatican is an upcoming point and click adventure game. Please tell us a little bit about the plot and characters we’ll encounter in the game.
Carlo De Rensis: We follow the actions of James, an ex-priest, who comes back to Rome (he now works as a doctor in Chicago) to answer a call for help from his friend Father Cristoforo. When he arrives, he finds out that his friend is in danger. The Vatican’s involvement, and some strange parallels with his own traumatic past, inspire James to get to the bottom of this mystery.
DHGF: Shadow on the Vatican is loosely based on David Yallop’s book, “In God’s Hand,” a controversial book that states Pope John Paul I, who had the second shortest papacy of all time, was murdered rather than died of a heart attack. What about Yallop’s book called out to you as something that would make a good video game?
Giandomenico Maglione: We were interested in the Yallop analysis on the relationship between the church and the religious institutions, as well as the bank world and the political world. We feel that it is a nice starting point to create a good thrilling story which has its focal points contemporary events linked to the Vatican history (and not the used and abused medieval history).
DHGF: As the main character is an ex-priest and the plot revolves heavily around a Vatican conspiracy, it’s safe to say that religion and faith will play a big part in this game. What is the game trying to say about religion and do you worry that the subject matter might offend some gamers that are…religiously sensitive?
Cristiano Caliendo : Well… we really think it’s the right moment to deal with such themes! I mean, when it comes to videogames, generally there’s a little “shyness” in dealing with more challenging arguments, but it shouldn’t be this way. On the contrary, we’ve got to exalt the narrative strength that a videogame can have as a medium.
Anyway, we do not intend to impose our personal vision about themes like religion or faith: we just want to give voice to strong characters with their own ideas. For example James, our main character, is a man with a great personal faith: he just loses his ‘trust’ in the Catholic Church as an Institution. It then our job to make his point of view believable and interesting.
DHGF: The first three chapters of the game are named after some of the seven deadly sins. We have Greed, Wraith and Pride. Chapter IV however changes things up by being entitled “Redemption.” How will the names of each chapter be felt in their corresponding episode?
Carlo De Rensis: Every Act will have a very different tone and we decided to connect this “atmosphere” to some of deadly sins. At the same time, we feel that the final act of the game would deserve his own limelight… you will find out why by playing till the end ;)
DHGF: The art direction for the game is being done by Lorenzo Ruggiero, who was most recently working on the series Gotham City Sirens for DC Comics. As well, the motion comics in the game are being done by Daniela Di Matteo whose work is best to known to French and Italian comic book fans. What made you decide to go with a comic book motif for the visuals in Shadows on the Vatican?
Giandomenico Maglione: We consider the comic artists’ fictional universe very suitable and versatile to develop a videogame. For SotV we believe that the qualities and the experience of Lorenzo Ruggiero will grant us to realize a product with a distinctive style and appeal (especially for the North American market). On the other hand, the ability and sensibility of Daniela di Matteo in representing the mood and emotions of the characters is the perfect fit to realize the motion comics of our game.
DHGF: Shadows of the Vatican wouldn’t be a point and click adventure game without puzzles. What are some of the brain teasers we will encounter in the game?
Carlo De Rensis: Our aim is to offer a challenge more stimulating than hard and this is possible by offering to the player a variety of problems to deal with. So, alongside with the classical riddles, the player will find some interesting gameplay variations. Anyway, we will be faithful to the general rules of a graphic adventure: so no dead ends, or game over situations.
DHGF: Shadows on the Vatican is going to be a four part episodic game. What made you decide to release the game in episodic format and how far apart will be the release of each episode? Will you be able to purchase all the episodes in one bundle or will they be sold separately as they are released?
Carlo De Rensis: Well, we feel that the episodic format is a great way to tell stories and keep the players on the edge. We also decided that it was the right time to offer a product like this to the public. In addition, we just launched Zodiac (http://www.zodiac-store.com), our proprietary digital delivery platform so the timing is really perfect. The release of each episode will be around two to three months from the previous one. As for a bundle, it is possible, but we will keep the episodic structure because it is the way the game is born and conceived.
DHGF: How long will it take to complete each episode of Shadows on the Vatican?
Carlo De Rensis: I say around 3-4 hours for an experienced gamer, while for an “amateur,” it would be 6-7 hours. Then again, this is very personal, as it depends by what kind of “player” you are. There are a lot of conversations and optional interactions you can lose if you just run to complete the game.
DHGF: How will Shadows on the Vatican be distributed?
Carlo De Rensis: Every SotV episode will be distributed on Zodiac (at the price of 5.99 euros) with a short time-exclusive period. Then you’ll be able to find the game in all the major digital portals of the world.
DHGF: Finally, for gamers that tend not to play games on their PC or who are relatively new to adventure games, what about Shadows on the Vatican will draw them in?
Cristiano Caliendo: We think that this kind of public could be interested in Shadows on the Vatican. Its plot, gameplay and the distribution format were studied to fulfill the needs of people who want to find an engaging videogame experience but don’t want to sacrifice lot of time, too many neurons or his social life. We strongly believe that our game could draw any kind of audience… you just need to give it a chance ;)
So there you go. Episode One of Shadows on the Vatican will be out (Greed) in a few weeks. Over the past few years, the best adventure games have been coming out of Eurasia. We’ve seen great stuff from Russia, Spain, Germany, England and France so I’m really looking forward to seeing the best Italy has to offer. With each episode having a $5.99 price tag, you’ll be getting a great deal on each game. Here’s hoping the story and gameplay are as great as the pricing.
You can learn more about Adventure Productions by visiting its official web site or their Facebook page. You can also check out the Shadows on the Vatican website to learn more about the game. We’ll have more on Shadows On the Vatican once it is released, complete with full in-depth reviews of each “Act.” See you then!
Alexander Lucard was the Editor-in-Chief of Diehard GameFAN and Director of Operations for the InsidePulse network. He has since retired from writing, but clearly shows up now and again. He has worked in video game journalism since 2002 and is also a paid consultant for Konami and The Pokemon Company. Alex has previously written for Tips N Tricks, Gamespot, White Wolf, TSR, Wizards of the Coast, Eden Studios, 411mania, Not a True Ending and more. His writing could also be found in the monthly periodicals Massive Online Gamer and Pokemon Collector Magazine.