Curve Digital just unveiled its latest title, called Harold Halibut, at Unite Berlin. Releasing on PC and consoles next year, it’s the debut title of Cologne-based developer Slow Bros.
The narrative exploration game made in Unity tells the story of a clumsy lab-assistant and janitor trying to solve the mysteries of a planet made entirely of water, where he crash-landed.
Harold Halibut is entirely handcrafted, feeling like a stop motion movie, with the aim to “bridge analogue and digital art.” The official announcement explains how "Slow Bros sculpts, paints, and glues together the models and puppets that make up the world of Harold Halibut, while a team of digital artists renders these objects into the virtual space."
Talking to MCV in an exclusive interview (keep an eye out for next issue to read more), Curve Digital’s publishing director Simon Byron told us more about how this unique title ended up in the publisher’s portfolio: “It's a title that I have had my eye on for a while – in fact I first showed it to everybody in July last year. We had an offsite down in Brighton where I was running through a list of games I'd hoped we could sign and I played the original trailer which included a ‘making of’. Everyone was immediately taken not just by the game footage, but the team behind the game, too. After we'd discussed both, Stu [Dinsey, Curve Digital’s chairman] predicted: ‘That could be our first BAFTA’. I think it's a shoo-in.”
He continues: “It's a handmade adventure game. Everything in it has been created by hand. It was originally a Kickstarter that didn't meet its target. Kickstarter is a real challenge in its own right and if you don't have your community already... I don't see a Kickstarter not meeting its goal as any indication of the quality of it. What's been great about working at Curve is we are now publishing two games that were originally Kickstarted – Flame in the Flood and For the King and that's been great. And I loved Harold Halibut from the moment I saw it.”
Byron jokes about how he “should be able to claim the Kickstarter back on expenses” now that Curve is publishing the game, and goes on explaining how instrumental Kickstarter actually was in making this deal happen: “I was hassling [Slow Bros], I was emailing them saying: 'Hey I loved the game, I would love to talk about it' but we got nothing back from the official channels. And then they were emailing me as a Kickstarter backer being like 'Here's a new update' and I was like 'Cool, but can you answer my other emails?' [laughs] We eventually met Onat [Hekimoglu, Slow Bros’ designer, writer, and composer] at Gamescom in person and there was an immediate bond and I think you could tell how into the game we were, how desperate we were to pick it. That was on the radar of a lot people – it was on ID@XBox at GDC and at Rezzed, and at E3 as well. We're really really excited about that.”
In the official announcement released today, Hekimoglu also added: “Harold Halibut started out as a dinner table conversation about the adventure games we played as children. We soon started building dollhouse sized sets and puppets in our bedrooms. The result works like a game but it looks like a stop motion film. Welded metal, carefully sewn textiles against tiny wooden floorboards, and clay faces the size of walnuts pull the player into Harold’s world.”
You’ll be able to read more from Curve Digital’s publishing director Simon Byron, chairman Stuart Dinsey and marketing director Rosemary Buahin in the next issue of MCV, out on July 4th.