Could Microsoft be releasing a new Indiana Jones game? The tech giant seems to be hinting at it with their recent announcement.
In the past, there have been few outstanding Indiana Jones video games. Some notable ones include The Fate of Atlantis by LucasArts, Lego games that were decent, Emporer’s Tomb which was good, and the SNES side-scroller, Greatest Adventures. However, there have not been many iconic games that go beyond the brand, such as Knights of the Old Republic. But that may be about to change.
At the latest online event for developers hosted by Microsoft, streamed on Thursday night, a 12-minute preview of Indiana Jones and the Great Circle was showcased. This globe-trotting first-person adventure takes place between the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Last Crusade. The project was announced three years ago, but this is the first time we have seen any footage, and it looks promising. It features Nazis, a whip, and Dr. Jones traveling through deserts, tombs, and having heated discussions with Denholm Elliott in old college buildings. The storyline involves a stolen artifact that is connected to a global network of ancient monuments, all of which form a circle around the world.
Interestingly, a significant portion of the lengthy promotional video shown during the event is dedicated to MachineGames, the developer, explaining their choice to use a first-person perspective in the game. According to senior narrative designer Edward Curtis-Sivess, “Our game is all about immersing you in Indie’s experience, allowing you to see through his eyes and feel what he feels.” The team at MachineGames believes that the first-person perspective is the most effective way to achieve this. There is a concern that the iconic look of Indiana Jones may be missed by fans, who are used to seeing him in action on the screen. This is evident in the two popular game franchises, Uncharted and Tomb Raider, which both use a third-person perspective to capture the cinematic feel of the Indiana Jones series.
This game will face a daunting task of distinguishing itself from the legacies of two popular franchises. Both have established the cinematic puzzle-filled action-adventure genre and its conventions. In The Great Circle, Indy is joined by a determined journalist named Gina Lombardi, reminiscent of Nathan Drake’s partner Elena Fisher in colonial mischief. The game will also feature environmental puzzles, such as a tomb where players must place stone cogs to open a door – a familiar concept from games like Uncharted 3 and Tomb Raider: Anniversary, as well as other Indiana Jones-inspired adventures. The video also hints at multiple paths through major locations, allowing players to sneak around and observe enemy patrol routes – a tactic used by Nathan and Lara for many years.
MachineGames, known for their successful revival of the Wolfenstein franchise, has a knack for putting a unique spin on established ideas. Fans may be concerned about the lack of on-screen presence from the independent protagonist, but this team has proven their ability to bring depth and personality to characters like BJ Blazkowicz. However, in this game we will indeed get to see Indy. The gameplay video assures viewers that the camera will switch to a third person perspective at certain points, and cut-scenes feature a highly convincing model of Harrison Ford. The character is also voiced by veteran video game actor Troy Baker, renowned for his portrayal of Joel in The Last of Us.
The use of traditional Indiana Jones elements is even more exciting. It appears that his whip will serve both as a tool for getting around and as a weapon. There will also be intense hand-to-hand combat with the signature punch sound effects. The arrogant Nazi villain Emmerich Voss is a perfect fit for the classic Indy style. Additionally, it’s a pleasant surprise to see horror film veteran Tony Todd in a role, as he is shown at the start of the game stealing a seemingly insignificant artifact from Indy’s workplace at Marshall College.
It seems unfair that The Great Circle will have to fight with two games that have plundered the Indiana Jones treasury of ideas, images and action. But what it has, of course, is the Lucasfilm legacy – the character and his universe, the whip, that score and decades of goodwill. Plus MachineGames is a genuinely interesting studio not afraid of compelling, idiosyncratic ideas. If Indy is to triumph over his young usurpers, he’ll need plenty of them.