PAX West 2018: Tales of the Neon Sea

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

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China isn’t a place that’s particularly known for its gaming industry. It’s something I discussed quite a bit at PAX West with publisher Zodiac Interactive, creator of the game Tales of the Neon Sea, when I went to try out the game. While I waited for their demo station to be available, they discussed the troubled Chinese game industry, and the process of recovery from the console ban that stretched from 2000 to 2015, stifling the development of the Chinese game industry. Part of the discussion revolved around massive China-based publisher Tencent Games, which currently owns League of Legends creator Riot Games, as well as minority ownership of other major publishers Activision Blizzard, PUBG developer Bluehole, Paradox Interactive, Epic Games, and Ubisoft. Paradox Interactive is a smaller indie publisher looking to further establish Chinese gaming worldwide, and one of the games they want to do this with is adventure game Tales of the Neon Sea.

Tales of the Neon Sea | 7-Twelve

Tales of the Neon Sea is a cyberpunk-styled adventure game that, in the demo, put the player in control of either a human detective or a cat. Based on the demo the game seems primarily to be a mystery thriller, with one of the missions in the demo showing off the game’s crime-solving mechanics. The demo didn’t give much of a hint about the actual story, but there are hints that suggest that there’s much more to it than meets the eye. This includes the part where you play as a cat, I’m incredibly confused about what significance a cat mafia could have for a cyberpunk mystery story.

Tales of the Neon Sea | Restaurant entrance

The crime scene investigation was by far the most interesting and engaging part of the demo. It starts with examining the body with two different lenses to find clues, which are then combined into events that led to the murder. After finding the relevant clues on the body, you then explore the crime scene itself, moving objects around and solving minor puzzles to gather more information. After collecting as much information as possible, the clues you’ve gathered are represented as gears, which you then need to chain together correctly in order to reconstruct the chain of events leading to the murder. The other parts of the game are more straightforward adventure fare: collecting items and solving puzzles in order to progress through an area and get where you need to be.

Tales of the Neon Sea | Interior

It’s probably becoming kind of cliché for me to say this at this point, but Tales of the Neon Sea has me interested, with its mystery plot, cyberpunk theme, and bright, neon-colored pixel art graphics. I’m a sucker for well-crafted mysteries, as demonstrated by my love of the Danganronpa games, so I’m looking forward to see where this game goes with its story and world (especially those cats). If you’re also interested in checking it out, Tales of the Neon Sea is set to release on PC through Steam later this year.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.