Harold Halibut is a Nautic adventure game in development by Slow Bros. A small independent studio in Germany. Harold Halibut has a unique take on games design, in that all of its assets are made by hand.
The team has a Pre-Alpha build of Harold Halibut available at Unite Berlin 2018, where I was able to get some good time with the game, as well as view some of the many assets the team have created for the game in the flesh. It’s truly staggering to see the assets there, and then see them in the game at the same time, and realise the sheer scale of the task Slow Bros. have taken on. What appears as nothing more than a small shop front in-game, is in fact a sizable, 3-dimensional creation in the real world, and that’s really quite something. The actual character models are quite something as well. The game’s Instagram serves as a fantastic illustration of this.
Harold Halibut harks back to the Aardman classics I used to watch as a kid. The team set out to create a game that looks like a stop motion animation, and they’ve surpassed that, they’ve brought stop motion animation into the 21st century. As described on their blog, Slow Bros. have made use of photogrammetry, to 3D Scan all the assets created for Harold Halibut, and in turn, create 3D models from them. This has allowed the team to work with standardised 3D models, while maintaining the look of a polished stop motion. The results are quite something, even in a Pre-Alpha state.
By using photogrammetry, the team has also been able to take advantage of Unity’s ambient lighting, to really take the look of Harold Halibut to another level entirely. So much so, that the team was involved in the Keynote at Unite Berlin 2018, showcasing how the team used the High Definition Render Pipeline to help sort transparencies and lighting. The results of such really do speak for themselves.
It’s undeniable that Harold Halibut gives off some serious Bioshock vibes, with its underwater, dystopian-city/ship setting. The view from the windows surrounding the ship’s streets screams Rapture, even the propaganda on the staircase has a Bioshock vibe. The dystopian setting works wonders for the title, giving the game a genuinely interesting setting, as well as working wonders with the studio’s use of Unity’s lighting dynamics.
In terms of gameplay, Harold Halibut has a simple premise. Generally consisting of moving through the various areas of the spaceship, speaking to other characters around the ship, and running errands. It is through this that the storyline develops, with the main premise of the story being based around one of the lead scientists still on board tries to unriddle the possibility re-launching the ship, young Janitor Harold is around to offer her assistance.
For an early build, the game is reassuringly stable. There are a few frame stutters here and there but considering just what Slow Bros. have been doing with the title visually, that’s easily forgiven. The experience controls nice and smooth, with a simplistic, yet purposeful pace. The game feels very methodical, even if the dialogue does come across as a little clunky in places. With the simplistic and purposeful gameplay I found myself easily drawn into the story, wanting to know what whimsical mishap would be working its way into Harold’s life next.
There’s no final release date for Harold Halibut, but we really can’t wait to get our hands on the finished title when it finally see’s full release.
You can view the second Teaser for Harold Halibut below. You can also view more of the game and keep up to date with the team over at their website here.