A series of postcards tell a story of a spy based in Switzerland who suddenly becomes entangled in the outbreak of the Second World War. Over the Alps has a story filled with humans and monsters, all played out through a series of increasingly engaging choices.
Over the Alps, from Stave Studios, follows the flight and fight of a fledgling spy during the approach to — and outbreak of — World War II. While its narrative plays out through moments told in old postcards, players lead the direction of the story by selecting from the stamp that sent the memento on its way.
The demo, which I played while at EGX Rezzed earlier this year, begins with the protagonist’s activation and a journey north, which is rapidly kicked into highest gear by the outbreak of war.
As they, with their experienced mentor the Madamina, set off on their journey, they are rapidly introduced to a memorable, almost caricatured, group of side-characters. Nuisances like the highly regarded, yet inept Inspector Olk. Threats like the deadly spycatcher who pursues you through your entire journey. And allies, like the Watchmaker, who you must free from prison and escort onward to do your bit to slow the war.
The stamps directing the story are simply emblazoned with a symbol and a written concept: a rose and ‘charm’, an extending hand and ‘accept’, a jester and ‘fool’. These simplify otherwise extreme choices — something that would seem strange if simply left to the accompanying line of text that appears as you flick between stamps.
When not sealing your decisions with stamps, you get to click around the various scenes you find yourself in— each stylised to look like vintage postcard artwork. In the earlier moments of the game this process is largely informational, however Stave Studios have detailed that there are element of point-and-click adventures in there, as well as a collectibles system.
Despite the understandably sombre setting, the larger-than-life characters and pivoting pace result in the game feeling reminiscent of an ensemble, caper movie. Even though the demo was short, probably coming in at around thirty to forty minutes, it often completely changed pace between scenes, establishing a new area with its characters before moving you into a transition using one of the recurring characters:
Your infiltration goes wrong as rumours of a spy start echoing through the halls, but sure enough, the Inspector is suddenly on hand, his bumbling accidentally saving you. Your escape assured, you make for the hills, your ring of spies swollen to the greatest it has been thus far, when suddenly the Spycatcher appears and a shot rings out.
If this incredible, shifting pace is maintained for the duration of the finished game, there is no doubt that people will be talking about it for years to come.
Over the Alps has a provisional release date of 2018 and is in development for both PC and iOS. Those interested in following the game can follow it on Twitter @overthealpsgame.