When we first saw The Y-Project at a press event in London way back in January, it was more of a concept and a tech demo than an actual game. Seven months later things have moved on dramatically though, and Westka boss Christoph Kabelitz was on hand to run us through the very latest build as Europe's biggest videogames trade show ECTS kicked off this morning.
Split Into Fractions
The section of the game that we saw began with a cinematic sequence showing a long swooping fly-by through a twisting canyon pierced by pipes and pylons that make up part of a mining facility. The scenery was spectacular to say the least, taking full advantage of the Unreal technology to render towering cliffs, sparkling water far below and plants clinging to the craggy ledges along the way.
The Y-Project is set on a distant alien world which (in true B-movie fashion) has been overrun by giant insects. Naturally it's up to you to find out what's behind this sudden invasion of killer flies and beetles, and as the cinematic sequence ended our hero was pitched into an underground mining complex as part of this quest. Although you're trying to save the colony, there's some difference of opinion when it comes to how best to go about this, with survivors splitting into two factions - military and scientific. Throughout the game you will be tempted to join one of the factions in exchange for information or equipment, and the weapons you carry and the details of the missions and puzzles vary depending on which side you choose.
As a supporter of the military faction, Christoph's character went in the front entrance laden with ammunition, and puzzles tended to involve hopping around between bits of pipework and activating machinery to break open new areas. If he had been working for the scientific faction at the time, he would have entered the mine through a hidden entrance and taken a more considered approach. It's a novel idea which should add to the game's replay value, as you'll be able to carry out different subquests and complete missions in different ways with different weapons and equipment depending on which of the two factions you decide to focus on.
Spiders And Flies
Delving further into the mines, Christoph came across some of the freakish insect monsters that have infested the planet. The last time we saw the game most of these were nothing more than concept art, but now they've been brought to life in polygonal form, with highly detailed texturing and effects throughout. The only thing missing is AI and animation, with some rather stilted placeholder movements standing in for the eventual motion capturing and more detailed behaviour. Despite these shortcomings, the monsters were already eye-catching and strangely worrying. Or that could just be a result of my phobia of anything with more than four legs...
This level of detail extends to the indoors sections, with vast pipes, machines and supporting struts straddling the caves, vertigo-inducing pits opening up beneath you, and strange mushrooms growing out of every available surface. As Christoph moved on down through the network of caverns and pits that make up the mines, he sent out a drone to scout ahead. This is one of the new pieces of equipment that has been added to the game since we last saw it, with players flying it using the mouse and keyboard as normal, and the view from the spy drone's camera showing in a small window in the bottom right corner of the HUD.
Other special equipment can be found hidden throughout the game's various settings, or provided by one of the factions to earn your trust. Sixteen items should be available in the final game, although you will only have access to ten of them each time you play, depending on the choices you have made along the way. Again, this gives players a good excuse to go back and play through the whole thing again, unlocking new weapons and equipment they haven't seen before by switching factions. You can even combine pieces of the insects you kill in the nano-assembler to create power-ups and special items, some of which you will be given the blueprint for while others can be discovered by just messing around with the machine and dropping various elements into it.
The Y-Project has come on leaps and bounds since the last time we saw it, and we're even more confident now that the game will live up to our expectations. There's still some work to do, particularly on the AI, animations and clipping, but it's coming together nicely. Westka are still negotiating with potential publishers, but with any luck it should be available next spring, and if what we saw today is anything to go by, it should prove to be another great looking and innovative European action game.