Campo Santo, the team behind the beautiful 2016 indie game Firewatch, first debuted the trailer of its new title In the Valley of Gods at the Game Awards 2017. The new game is not due for a release until 2019, but the team behind it has been sharing periodical updates on its development on their blog.
The latest announcements detail that the studio has been acquired by Valve. Campo Santo wrote that this is because the people at Valve share the same values and sentiments about the work that they do. An IGN report on Campo Santo’s big move reassures fans that the studio’s decision does not affect the game’s development in any way. In the Valley of Gods is still being handled by the same people, with the same tools. The only difference is that the developers can seek advice from Valve if and when needed. Olly Moss, the incredibly talented artist behind Firewatch‘s unique visual design, has also joined the Bellevue-based software giant, though he will not be working on In the Valle of Gods.
As for the updates on the game, the team has shared a few tidbits. As you may know, one of the upcoming game’s protagonists is a woman of a color named Zora. Polygon notes that women of color rarely star in mainstream video games, and those that do are limited to only a small selection of looks and hairstyles. Campo Santo wanted to portray Zora as accurately as possible, which is why its art team really made an effort to create the right texture, shape, and movement of type 4 hair. You can see from the trailer how Zora’s hair features tight coils that don’t sway in an exaggerated manner. Although it may sound like a small detail for some, this devotion to character building and accuracy is a step in the right direction for representation in gaming and in media. According to the team, the hair modeling process took about two months to complete.
For those only hearing about the game now, In the Valley of Gods follows the story of two archaeologists-slash-filmmakers whose careers have hit a rut. As a last resort, they head to Egypt to try and make a documentary about the tomb of Nefertiti, which to this day, is yet to be discovered. The Campo Santo team spilled more details about the game to PC Gamer, adding that the sociocultural, historical, and archaeological aspects of In the Valley of Gods will be grounded in reality.
For instance, there was a well-known fascination in the early 20th century with ancient Egypt, which is the period the game is set in. Almost every ancient structure in Egypt has since been detailed, documented, and chronicled, whether it’s with regards to the impressive architecture or the elaborate paintings. Clearly, that interest for Egypt has not waned since then.
Today, there are a variety of video games that are set in Egypt. For one, Assassin’s Creed: Origins transports players to actual ancient Egypt at the peak of its civilization. There is a mode that lets you go on a tour of Egypt, without the presence of enemies and missions. Meanwhile, small titles like Pyramid Quest for Immortality and Rise of the Pharaohs are featured among Foxy Casino’s collection of online games. Similar to In the Valley of Gods, these games explore the mysteries of Egyptian tombs. They may not feature the same detailed graphics, but it’s clear that they also make somewhat accurate historical references.
For their research, the Camp Santo team took a closer look at the Egyptian ruins to try and grasp the mindset of the people who built them. Through the game, the developers want players to feel like they were exploring these old tombs with a friend. We have yet to see more gameplay footage, but we can surely expect more blog updates from Campo Santo soon.