Don’t let the identical name fool you, Amplitude on Indiegogo is an entirely different beast to Harmonix’s Kickstarted rhythm game. That being said, developer Ceylon Entertainment’s previous game was Freak-Quency, so it’s probably not a mistake.
Amplitude is a visual novel with some unique twists. It takes place in the year 2121 where most of humanity has evolved and have developed mutant powers. For those that don’t have these powers life is harsh and cruel, so much so that “death sometimes feels like mercy.” You play as a man or woman – you get to choose – who died and came back to life with the help of a mysterious woman shoving you in a teenager’s body. It’s probably not as creepy as it sounds.
Unlike your average visual novel, there will be more to do than read text. It sounds like a lot of effort is being put in to make Amplitude more than just a passive visual novel. As well as the usual dialog choices and romance options you can find in VN’s, you can also choose your motivations. “Get a job, make new friends, try to find your killer, or just count the cats in the neighborhood to pass time!” the description exclaims. Environments can be explored using point and click controls, and can be interacted with. There will also be stats to increase, such as Knowledge, Bravery, Combat, etc. There’s even going to be crafting in some capacity.
This can certainly be cause for concern, as interesting as it sounds. The developers are putting in a lot of varied mechanics, seemingly in an attempt to shake up the visual novel genre. If they’re able to pull it off successfully and the game is better because of it, then great! But feature creep is a big problem in indie development, especially with crowdfunding campaigns. It’s easy for a developer to get more money than they were expecting and decide to go all out by adding more and more features. These new features can pull the game down, and in the worst case they can result in the game never releasing at all.
It doesn’t help that the description page doesn’t explain well how any of these elements fit together. At one point, the description talks about how you can go on quests, but says “if questing is not your thing, then perhaps texting or crafting handmade accessories are.” If the player doesn’t go on quests, than what will the gameplay be? Texting and crafting aren’t really compatible to going on a quest.
Which gender you play also affects your relationships. The description makes it clear that you will only be able to engage in relationships with the opposite sex. “The body that you choose to inhabit affects […] which opposite sex you can court.” I know some of you are rolling your eyes and saying that doesn’t matter, but to some it does, especially in a game that touts player choice.
All that being said, the game looks like it’s already progressed nicely. The art is beautiful, there’s a good amount of variety in the screenshots, and there’s even a playable demo available. It’s made clear that the developers are all university students and that they might have trouble updating the project in a timely way. They’ve even got several voice actors in place, something even some of the most notable crowdfunded visual novels lack.
So far, the campaign has only raised $241 of it’s modest $1,000 goal. This one is going to have to be a judgement call on your part. If you’re feeling unsure, be sure to look out for our Let’s Play of Amplitude next week.