What if the best Indiana Jones game ever made turned out not to be an actual Indiana Jones game? Cast Uncharted aside – that’s what we’re hoping to get from In the Valley of Gods, the new game from Campo Santo (now part of the Valve development group), the team behind 2016’s breakthrough indie hit Firewatch.
Set in 1920s Egypt and focussing on the travels of archaeological filmmakers Rashida and Zora, it’s a story-driven adventure that’s already evoking memories of Indy’s best escapades, along with the remote beauty of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia.
So, what’s In the Valley of Gods about? How does it play? And when is it coming out? Read on for everything we know so far about the highly-anticipated game.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A first-person narrative-led adventure set amidst the sandy dunes and dusty tombs of 1920s Egypt.
- When can I play it? Developer Campo Santo has yet to reveal a solid release date for In the Valley of Gods, but has pencilled in a 2019 launch for the game.
- What can I play it on? So far only Windows and Linux releases have been confirmed, but Campo Santo’s previous game, Firewatch, eventually made it to consoles too, so here’s hoping.
In the Valley of Gods trailers
In the Valley of Gods was first revealed back at The Game Awards show in 2017. It was shared with a trailer – the only one we’ve had to glimpse at so far – a beautiful and evocative clip that showcases the game’s exaggerated, caricature-like art style:
In the Valley of Gods story
Being a narrative-driven game, there’s likely many secrets, plot twists and character beats that Camp Santo doesn’t want to reveal yet about In the Valley of Gods. That’d defeat basically the whole point of the game. But it has been generous so far in discussing the main beats of the game.
From the game’s Steam store listing:
“In the Valley of Gods is a sprawling narrative experience in remote, 1920s Egypt. You are Rashida, a disgraced former explorer and filmmaker given one last shot at the adventurous life you desperately miss. Somewhere, beyond the endless miles of dunes, ruins, and tombs lies an incredible archaeological discovery—but it can't be found without the help of Zora, the former partner you vowed never to work with again.”
Duncan Fyfe, one of the game’s writers, succinctly described it as a melting pot of the following components:
“The creators of Firewatch. Adventure stories featuring adult problems. The art of ancient Egypt. The art of modern Egypt. First-person movement and a family curse. The golden age of Egyptology. The birth of documentary film. An old, analog film camera. Two women. A mystery.”
There’s already a sense of the vision for the game coming into focus then. It’s a time of great discovery, one that’s lucrative for the adventurous, with the likes of Rashida and Zora living in the shadow of Howard Carter’s Tutankhamen discovery.
But what’s pulled the pair’s relationship apart? And what’s now drawing them back together? That may well be the game’s “mystery” that we’ll have to play through to find out.
In the Valley of Gods gameplay
While we may know a fair bit about In the Valley of Gods storyline, we know considerably less about how it will actually play.
Seeing as the genre is Campo Santo’s strength, and going by what we’ve seen of the game from its trailer, it appears that In the Valley of Gods will be broadly what’s known as a “walking simulator”, a game genre where the narrative is more important than quick reflexes or action-packed gameplay.
It’s not so much about beating baddies or jumping chasms Lara Croft style, but instead about being engrossed in a story in which you have a degree of agency.
That’s not to say you won’t have things to do in In the Valley of Gods though. There seems to be some light platforming elements, with Rashida and Zora pulling each other up ledges and wading through watery cave tunnels.
As two filmmakers, light and darkness will play an important role in the game too. While we’re not yet sure how any filming or photography mechanics play out (they’ll certainly be present, with an “authentic” 35mm camera system with which to “document the world and story around you” listed as a gameplay feature) , you’ll be carrying torches and lighters as you wander the halls of ancient tombs.
Campo Santo have promised a tale that doesn’t rely on the violent gameplay tropes that dominate so many of the titles we play – but that doesn’t mean they can’t creep you out in the dark…
In the Valley of Gods development updates
Campo Santo is one of the more transparent developers when it comes to how its games are made, and offers an extensive developers blog at blog.camposanto.com, covering everything from how it is making realistic hair for the game’s characters to the way it puts together trailers.
As a result we’ve been given great insight into how the company does everything from creating believable water physics:
To an intricate look at the challenges of making tight Type 4 coily hair move and be lit in a naturalistic way:
It’s definitely worth following if, like us, you’re sat on tenterhooks for the release of In the Valley of Gods.
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