RosePortal Games has been making RPGs since 2009. But this independent, based out of the UK, has always aimed to make games that carry a strong message in order for those games to hold artistic merit.
Unraveled is in its last leg of a Kickstarter campaign, and is based on real events as they were realized after watching a documentary about ship breaking yards in Mumbai called The Wire Nest.
“The reality is there are ship breaking yards located throughout the world, but those in South Asia are characterized by perilous work conditions,” co-producer of Unraveled Chancler Harrison told CGM in an e-mail interview. He cited examples such as exposure to high levels of carcinogens, lack of protective clothing, and no training for tools used to dismantle ships.
He added that children are sometimes employed by ship breaking companies, which speaks to an objective of “generating revenue at any cost.”
It was a lack of public awareness about the environmental hazards and safety risks involved in the ship breaking industry that inspired the RosePortal team, which consists of Harrison and founder and artist Aaron van der Brugge, to use the concept for Unraveled in the hope of creating more awareness.
“By playing this game, one will be introduced to the existence of ship breaking,” Harrison says.
The protagonist in Unraveled is a young girl whose parents go missing somewhere in a shipyard. What’s more is she is ordered to find them. The game is almost free of dialogue so the player must learn the background and get to know the protagonist through visuals (a “show-don’t-tell” style) and how her history and previous experiences have affected her imagination.
“We omitted text because we wanted players to use their imagination to craft their own story,” says Harrison. “We wanted the perspective to encompass more than those who work on the ships, provided that is only part of their lives, and to focus on how the work, conditions, and setting have the potential to dismantle more than ships,” he says.
The young girl ends up in a fantasy world where she meets a fluffy, blue monster companion who travels alongside her and aids her in turn-based battles against other monsters and creatures.
“The blue monster is more than a friend. He is the manifestation of the young girl’s courage, determination, and resilience,” says Harrison. “He guides her, gives her hope, and is also the visualization of the girl's imagination.”
Unraveled is a platformer adventure RPG with interactive story elements. The turn-based battle system includes a feature called “State Balance” in which levels of anger and calm are measured in both the player’s characters as well as the enemies being fought.
So when the adorable blue monster “butt slams” a giant spider in the battle sequences, it’s simply a representation of the girl stepping on it, pointed out Harrison.
“We at RosePortal Games are trying to make caring for social issues cool,” he says. “Especially those that are wrought with danger, bad for the environment, and obstruct independence and upward mobility.”
Unraveled’s Kickstarter campaign has four days left and still has a bit of a way to go to reach their goal of raising $15,000. Harrison mentioned that the main reason for creating a Kickstarter campaign was to spread awareness about ship breaking. Whatever happens, the game will be completed.
“With Kickstarter, anything is possible so we are keeping our heads up and looking forward,” he says. “Unraveled is a story that needs to be told and it will be finished.”