Call me old fashioned, but I’m happiest with cyberpunk as a genre when it’s a diverse team of marginalized people fighting under the oppressive boot of an authoritarian corporate regime. You know, when it’s both cyber and punk.
I’m pretty happy to see Solace State, then, a uniquely styled visual novel that delves into a cyberpunk world where biotech has been weaponized and used to control society. The player is Chloe, a hacker who lives in a neighborhood under intense surveillance by private police amid a crackdown in the wider city.
Solace State is made and published by independent studio Visual Foundry Corp, and is slated for release in 2022.
The player will make choices that will affect Chloe’s relationships with her friends: local hacker Torrent, ex-lover and business salesman Alden, and community health manager Sueli. These dramas are part of a larger story of protecting the community so that it has a future worth living.
The most striking thing about Solace State is that its scenes look like 3D dioramas, and as the text moves and choices are made, the camera shifts, showing different perspectives on the action and dialogue. They’re also colored in a style somewhere between water-based inks and digital shaders.
Solace State was featured in this year’s Game Devs of Color exhibit, and you can see some of it below, where designer Tanya Khan talks about it and how she sees the various choices Chloe makes affecting her world.