Thursday, 1 November 2012
The Thief of Memories
I guess it all began with those archetypal pulp heroes like the Shadow. The passage of time, far from attenuating the lure of those rain-wreathed skyscrapers, Deco-styled apartments, spats, and Duesenbergs, has added the heft of hindsight. Now we can populate the darkened alleyways with Cthulhoid monsters, and envisage the smart uptown set watching the unwrapping of mummies while sipping highballs. And over this nervy world of light and dark, innocence and corruption, hangs the darkest shadow of all: impending war against the Axis.
I'm a sucker for this world. From Wesley Dodds doling out bad dreams for the wicked to Lobster Johnson facing Nazis and nastier, from Edward Carnby finding himself alone in the dark to Jeff Daniels scouring Hoboken for the purple rose of Cairo, I'm always first in line. I can even take Alec Baldwin as the Shadow, if that's the price tag for Russell Mulcahy's luminous vision of 1930s Manhattan and Jon Lone's perfect take on Shiwan Khan.
In light of all this, it's amazing that up till now there hasn't been a thirties 'tec gamebook. (If I'm wrong about that, somebody will correct me.) But it was worth the wait. Paul Gresty has penned a trilogy of interactive adventures titled Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories. It's a 200-page hardback, gorgeously illustrated by the team at Megara Entertainment, the talented group behind the Fabled Lands iOS apps and the forthcoming Way of the Tiger RPG.
So where do you sign up? On Kickstarter, actually. Megara need your backing to bring this ambitious project to completion, and they've found a printer who can deliver a high-quality, full-colour hardcover for the price of a paperback.
What makes Arcana Agency really innovative is that Paul Gresty has avoided the traditional second-person hero, choosing instead to write it in third person with a cast of characters. This makes a lot of sense. Teamwork is an essential element of pulp mythology - Doc Savage, the Shadow, Lobster Johnson, etc, all have their band of trusty sidekicks. But this is not simply a nod to the conventions of the genre, it's a new gamebook technique that allows a much broader and more complex story to be told. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?
Arcana Agency: Thief of Memories is on Kickstarter till early December. Go take a look. If gamebooks are your thing, I think you'll find this one's a doozy.