Neon ge­n­e­sis

New stu­dio Jump­ship de­tails the ori­gins of sci-fi de­but Somerville

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Pro­duced by for­mer Play­dead CEO Dino Patti, and the brain­child of film vet­eran Chris Olsen, Somerville prompts awe and dread. “I’ve al­ways loved strong graphic fram­ing, that con­fi­dence to give some­thing rel­a­tively still a lot of life and al­low the viewer to soak it all in,” Olsen ex­plains. “On top of that, an em­pha­sis on gi­gan­tic scale. The mono­lithic paint­ings from John Har­ris, the locked-off wide shots in Evan­ge­lion – they were a great source of in­spi­ra­tion.”

Com­po­si­tion is crit­i­cal: like Limbo and In­side be­fore it, Patti’s lat­est project is a side-scrolling ad­ven­ture, though here colour is ev­ery­where, dystopia is now apoc­a­lypse, and there is com­bat as well as the usual pan­icked es­cape. “I’m drawn by aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing games that have in­ter­est­ing game­play in­te­grated into a mov­ing nar­ra­tive,” Patti tells us. “This is what I saw the seeds of in Somerville.”

Sci-fi is as old as the hills, how­ever, and hard to make fresh. “The se­cret to mak­ing any­thing dis­tinct or worth any­one’s time,” Olsen says, “is to start with some­thing that is deeply per­sonal and hold onto that un­til the end. When you ex­tract from your­self an ex­pe­ri­ence, you im­bue it with some­thing that can’t be repli­cated whilst also giv­ing it the care that it de­serves. What be­comes im­por­tant is not the need to be dif­fer­ent, but how best to com­mu­ni­cate per­spec­tive.” This may have been Olsen’s game, but it al­ready has Play­dead’s sig­na­ture: there’s no re­lease date, and Patti and Olsen are in no mood to hurry.

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