Not literally. Project M is the latest title revealed by South Korean developer NCSoft. Originally revealed back in February, the latest trailer for the game has many media publications reeling. The visual quality of the trailer is frequently astounding, but that’s not the reason why there’s such excitement. No, instead, it’s because Project M looks set to be NCSoft’s answer to a Quantic Dream game.
Quantic Dream has established a reputation for creating new types of interactive experiences. Cutting their teeth with Omikron: The Nomad Soul back in 1999, it was 2005’s Fahrenheit that brought the studio mainstream attention. Since then, Quantic Dream has pursued interactive storytelling that pushes the boundaries of what videogames are capable of. Titles such as Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human set new standards in the genre. Standards which few have even attempt to surpass, let alone managed.
These games are both easy and difficult to define. You could call them ‘interactive movies’, as NCSoft does. However that wouldn’t do them justice. They side closer to videogame experiences than passive observations. The player is the protagonist(s), not an observer. The interactions the player makes affects the outcome in meaningful ways. Some of which can even lead to the death of a main character, and thus completely change the story at a critical point. They lend themselves to multiple playthroughs, changing the decisions made to see entirely different strands of the story playout.
Project M has not yet shown this depth in story development. What it has shown however, is the functionality of it’s interactive systems. Just like Quantic Dream’s games, the player will take direct control of the character. Interacting with the environment, NPCs and action sequences. Making choices and dealing with the consequence. And, of course, doing a lot of this through QTEs.
Ultimately, what this suggests is that Project M is keen to emphasis a copying of Quantic Dream’s formula. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Supermassive Games has had great success with taking Telltale Games’ different, but also wholly innovative, interactive storytelling formula and applying it to entirely different scenarios. Indeed, for many, the soon-to-be-released The Quarry is one of the most highly anticipated games of the year.
And just like Supermassive Games’ efforts to mimic Telltale Games, so to does NCSoft apply a thick layer of high quality visuals into the mix. The trailer showcases realistic textures and details in the characters’ actions and facial expressions, enabled by in-house 3D scanning, motion capture and VFX techniques, and Unreal Engine 5.
NCSoft hasn’t yet revealed when Project M will be available. Nor which formats it will release on, bar the fact it’s coming to consoles. All eyes are now on the South Korean studio to see if the mimicry can retain the formula that has brought Quantic Dream a huge fanbase the world over.