PAX Aus 2018: Fellow Traveller is journeying in important directions

Feature article

One of the most impressive booths at PAX Australia this year was that of Fellow Traveller. An indie games label who is helping to publish some of Australia’s most prolific and critically acclaimed games. If you haven’t heard of Orwell, Hacknet, or Framed before, then you have some catching up to do! Although these games are already out and available, so it was the 5 unreleased games at the Fellow Traveller booth that I was most interested in.

I was lucky enough to try out a couple of the games at the booth and have a chat to Steve Heller, Production Coordinator at Fellow Traveller. Available to play were games such as The Church in the Darkness, Neo Cab, Genesis Noir, The stillness of the Wind and In Other Waters.

Neo Cab

Neo Cab was the first game I got my hands on and the game I spent the majority of my time playing at the booth. The game was clearly well polished with the demo performing as a great teaser for the upcoming full experience. It’s also a game that has been receiving a fair amount of attention, even before PAX Australia rolled around. This is in part thanks to a trailer shown during the PC Gaming show at E3 2018 and details surrounding the past work of some members of the development team. Patrick Ewing, for instance, worked at Campo Santo on their title Firewatch before taking on the role of Production Lead on Neo Cab.

Neo Cab takes place in a near-future world where you operate as one of the last non-AI rideshare drivers. The game is very narrative driven as you encounter passenger after passenger and engage in meaningful conversation. There’s also an over-arching narrative that builds to a climax at the end of the demo and an element of management simulation when it comes to making decisions that can negatively or positively impact your business and cash flow.

The game has a lot going for it and I can see why it’s getting the attention that it is. The art, the atmosphere, the depiction of a foreseeable future, and the engaging dialogue and growing tension of the narrative. With every new ride the story unravels a little more and the world you occupy becomes slightly clearer. The game is written well and the choices you make feel real, at least in the confines of the demo. There was almost a ‘Papers, Please’ feel to the character interactions as you met new and interesting people, listening to their plights. You made decisions, weighing up your moral compass against your own personal needs. And amongst all of this was a continued narrative about a friend who seemed to be in great danger.

There was an element of management / simulation as well as you chose when to fill up on fuel, which rides you were going to take, and made choices that may impact your driver star-rating.

Genesis Noir

I also got a chance to play Genesis Noir, a noir detective game that deals with matters on a celestial and deific level. At face value, Genesis Noir may seem like a fairly paired-back point-and-click type of experience. But in reality the game runs much deeper. You are caught in a love triangle that has lead to the murder of a god, a shooting that ushers in the creation of the universe. An interesting take on the ‘Big Bang’. Your job is to stop that shooting from happening and therefore stop the creation of everything.

Your celestial journey will take you long and far. Searching for clues, solving puzzles and exploring a vast, intergalactic landscape. The game takes place before, during, and after the events of the big bang. And whilst I didn’t personally get to see too much of the puzzling or progression of the game, I certainly saw a solid foundation for the team to build upon. Oozing with style and noir aesthetics, Genesis Noir is one of those games that can suck you in and absorb you into its intriguingly crafted world.

Whilst I only got a chance to play 2 of the 5 new games on offer at the Fellow Traveller booth at PAX Australia this year, it seemed clear to me that the games on show had one thing in common. Fellow Traveller have a knack for picking up games that go beyond face value, and offer a deeper look into society. Orwellian and existential themes were clearly present and even the team themselves joked about how their games seem to be bleak and dark in tone. Whilst I’m sure Fellow Traveller have plenty of bright and happy games up their sleeve, I’m totally enthralled by the darker tone present in the titles I played.

Did you get a chance to swing by the Fellow Traveller booth at PAX Australia this year?