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Three months ago, you died. And in that moment you were reborn as something new. A monster. A predator. Not a creature of the night, but one of its masters.
Unfortunately, things aren't simple as they used to be. Vampires have finally been exposed, and though your existence is tolerated, your new nature is not. You came to the City hoping for a new start, but found only suspicion and starvation. Now you stare at the ceiling of your cheap hotel room as a penniless outcast, suckling on rats and destined to wither away.
But every new era brings new opportunities, and in the political chaos of a world gone mad, even an outcast may rise. An outcast can change everything.
This is the story of how you rose.
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Embrace the Night
Nighthawks is the brand new urban fantasy RPG from Wadjet Eye Games (The Blackwell Legacy, Unavowed, Technobabylon) and writer/designer Richard Cobbett (Sunless Sea/Sunless Skies, The Long Journey Home). The initial concept for the game came when working on Sunless Skies and dreaming of seeing that calibre of interactive fiction merged with the atmosphere of some of his favourite urban-fantasy books and games, in particular 2004's Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines... and then deciding he wanted to play that new game far too much to just leave the idea sitting in the mental "What If?" folder.
Which brings us to now. Welcome to the mean streets of a city grudgingly trying to show that humans and vampires can live together, despite the cynicism and conspiracies raging on both sides. It's a place of bleak horror and dark humour, filled with monsters who don't all have fangs and a thirst for blood, and featuring new stories down every dark alley. What part will you play, and how will you turn a newly awakened world to your advantage?
About The Game
Nighthawks is a mix of story-driven RPG and undead life-simulation, where every decision you make is another move in your chess game against the world. Invest your time into learning new skills or honing your fighting style as you uncover the city's mysteries and venture deep into its darkest secrets. Gather fellow outcasts to your side, binding them with favours and choosing when to cash in. Manage your eternal thirst, legitimately, or balancing the risks of being caught stalking unwary victims and working the black markets.
And of course, what would a vampire be without a few secret powers? Choose from a range of dark Gifts, including Corpse-Talking, Tenebraean Form and Mesmerise. Be careful to hide all evidence of them from the authorites, while keeping them ready as your ace in the hole. Embrace your vampire side, sprinkle a little cinnamon in your blood to handle that pesky iron aftertaste, and get ready to live the nocturnal nine-to-five.
Structurally, think a freeform RPG core, with stories branching off it - some funny, some tragic, some horrific - where your decisions are always bleeding together. Get caught lying too often and your untrustworthy reputation will follow you around, while raising suspicion will draw the attention of first mortal, and then darker authorities. Do you, for instance, break a window and hurriedly search a crime scene while the alarms wail, pick the lock and explore at your leisure, or use vampire powers to impersonate the security guard and walk right in? The choice is yours, and all part of learning the beat of the city, developing new skills, and building up favours and contacts to help seize the day by the throat.
Choose Your Friends Carefully...
Never travel alone. Befriend and recruit a wide circle of fellow outcasts, such as Madame Lux, vampire stage magician capable of fooling any eye with delusions of light. Con-artist turned cult-leader Maze. Vampire enforcer Saiorse, as comfortable discussing great works of opera as she is getting her claws into the most dangerous dockland fighting pits. Former Queen of the Black Sea Inez, a ruthless pirate out of her time. Disgraced scientist Morgan Shah, funding her attempts to cure vampirism by selling crystal meth. Maybe even Samuel, a former doctor cursed with good intentions and a withered brain that considers no fate worse than death for patients who end up in his care. No matter how much they beg.
Companions here don't just fight for you. Take part in their lives as they work on their own problems, have them look into rumours with their own contacts and social circles and dive into their deepest secrets with interactive flashbacks set in locations like 17th century Nassau, Las Vegas, and the corrupt European courts of the Eternal Dynasties. Help them handle their demons, and they'll help you deal with yours. But good deeds rarely go unpunished, and everyone has their own agenda that consumes their endless nights.
Enter The Story
Why are we focusing on text? The possibilities! Games like Sunless Sea and 80 Days and Cultist Simulator have repeatedly demonstrated this over the last few years, and we intend Nighthawks to be seen in that company - a deep, wide, replayable RPG in which a favour can be the ultimate weapon and the friendliest smiles often have the sharpest teeth.
Text-driven gameplay lets us really focus on details and mechanics, including bringing you a living city with little seen features like NPC scheduling (you might, for instance, know a guy who'll slip you blood from the hospital blood bank, but he only works Tuesdays to Fridays and it's Saturday), varied stories, incredibly reactive characters, and most importantly, player freedom. You're planning to head out on a quest you were expecting to pay for your hotel room this week, but the friend you wanted to bring along isn't available. Do you wait? Take someone else? Risk going alone? Hope for another opportunity?
We're drawing inspiration from a wide range of RPG classics, from Baldur's Gate 2 to Yakuza to Bloodlines to Fallout to Quest For Glory, and in particular, their sense of freedom and focus on letting you live in their worlds. In Nighthawks, you're in charge of your destiny, whether it's running your nightclub sanctuary, playing politics, or plunging into stories that range from light-hearted adventure and modern political intrigue to blisteringly bleak horror.
Meet The Team
All that said, it's also going to look and sound great! Along with Richard Cobbett on words and design, we have Ben Chandler (Unavowed, Shardlight) and Ivan Ulyanov (The Charnel House Trilogy) on art, painting a 'living book' style that combines backgrounds and animated ambient effects in glorious 4K resolution.
Last, but definitely not least, we have adventure game legend Dave Gilbert (The Shivah, The Blackwell Legacy, Unavowed) acting as executive producer and overseer of the whole project, cracking whips and ensuring things stay on track. Budget allowing, we also hope to bring in additional writers to help produce extra-varied stories and characters, as well as other experts to help polish everything up to a fine shine. On top of all that, we're bringing a full voice cast to breathe life into the characters, and of course, plenty of original music.
The Biz Side
We're looking at a development cycle of around 18 months, not including time already invested to get to this stage. We're not doing physical rewards like pins and posters, so as to be able to spend every dollar on creating the best RPG we can make. Instead, we're focusing on rewards that let backers at every level become immortalised within the game itself. Be the vampire you deserve to be... or the unwary blood-bag, or undead hunter, or crooked cop, or depraved sewer abomination. Are you ready to be killed by yourself?
Target Platforms and Beta Access
Our key platforms at the moment are PC and Mac. We also hope to bring Nighthawks to iOS at release, and will be looking at other platforms closer to the release date.
As for beta testing, we don't believe in offering it as a reward tier - you're helping us! - but there will be opportunities to sign up and take part in that during development.
Risks and challenges
Nighthawks is an ambitious project - an unambitious one wouldn't be worth your time. We're a small team, aiming to bring you more design innovation with text, careful art and a tight budget than many AAA RPGs and developers with all their fancy polygons and resources.
But that's the fun part! And we can do it. We're all interactive fiction veterans with multiple titles to our name, using well-established tools like Ink and Unity to bring you a game we think will be both special, and the deep urban fantasy experience gamers have been dying for. The main risk is that development time is always hard to predict, save that everything always takes a bit longer than expected, and stretch goals especially always mean extra work to get things right. But we will. Everyone on the development team has also promised to look both ways before crossing any major road, just to be on the safe side.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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