Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier, the 2017 video game based on the Planet of the Apes franchise, is finally coming to Xbox One, producer Mark Inman announced on the official blog post.
The game is a cinematic narrative adventure based in the same universe as the recent film trilogy, but not the same story. For the game to be unpredictable a completely new cast of characters was required with their own stories to tell.
Whilst the ape group is part of the original San Francisco tribe, the events of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” have necessitated this tribe to move away, several hundred miles into the Rocky Mountains.
The game is developed at the production company and motion capture workshop The Imaginarium Studios in London owned by actor and developer Andy Serkis.
Inman said that when ‘The Imaginarium’ set up its games publishing arm, its ethos applied to games was the same one used in the TV and Film arms: storytelling is key.
“Rich, compelling narrative is at the center of everything we do, and with our Co-Founder Andy Serkis, being such a major part of the new era of Planet of the Apes, it seemed a perfect, and ambitious fit for our first title,” he said.
Andy worked with the developer on concept work, combining his performance capture knowledge and the underlying tech of UE4, to convince Fox Next Games that this wasn’t just going to be a completely interchangeable narrative choice-based game, but that this was going to be fully cinematic adventure and include some bold gameplay mechanic decisions.
The game tells the same story from both sides of the conflict, which means that gamers play as both Apes and Humans, seeing the same story unfold from two perspectives.
Next was the core mechanic as with many games of this style, the player has up to four responses during dialogue, but in reality, only one or two make the impactful decision that moves things forward.
Therefore, the producers opted for binary decision making to make the game feel cinematic, and the reduction to two choices means that the game, and as such the story, flows more seamlessly.
Inman said that when they planned the launch of the game, they also planned of hitting all platforms simultaneously, but one of the key enhancements made for Xbox One is player engagement, which previously, the community felt it was not apparent enough in the feedback they received and was a challenge to the development team.
He said they came up with solution to Telltale responses which would lock out certain conversational decision points to a fixed response, based on both the current relationship with that character and the choice made.
This meant that the player’s subsequent automated response would be obviously positive or negative depending on the relationship. This makes it clearer to the player how that relationship is panning out. Obviously where a relationship is more neutral, the player choice would still be a manual one.
The second thing to improve this is the addition of relationship screens at the end of the main chapters (Chapters 1-4), these show the state of the relationships between the player and the other principle characters.
It displays one five states (Great, Good, Okay, Poor, Awful) and the change positively or negatively from the last chapter. It may be a small thing but is useful when every single conversational decision made impacts on relationships and portrays the reaction at every occurrence.
Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier has had a healthy streaming community, with hobbyists, influencers, reward hunters, and reviewers all playing a part on various streaming platforms.
The arrival on Xbox One brings Mixer support, but unlike other platforms will feature interactive community voting, so streamers can engage with their audience and let them help steer the story by voting on the choices players should make.
“It’s similar in some ways to the local multiplayer, but instead of four people on sofas in one room, it’s everyone on their sofas everywhere,” he said. Last, the developers have added to the achievement implementation with the inclusion of the hero stats.