Games of 2023: American Arcadia preview

Out of the Blue Games was responsible for the excellent Call of the Sea two years ago. They’re bringing that to VR, but they have another promising project they’re working on: American Arcadia. It’s not a confirmed 2023 release, but we were able to check it out a while ago and loved what we saw, so we wanted to include in our ‘Games of 2023’ series – hoping to will a 2023 release into being.

We met Madrid-based developer Out of the Blue when visiting the publisher for the game, Raw Fury. And while “the new game from the developers of Call of the Sea” was enough to get us interested, it was the game’s creative direction that really caught us by surprise and had us place this high on our “most wanted” lists. Capturing a player’s attention in a 25 minute demo is no easy feat for a narrative-driven game, but American Arcadia succeeded with flying colors.

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The central premise of the game (or at least the demo) is a man you see inside a setting that looks like an idyllic depiction of America in the 1980s – straight out of a TV commercial. Our protagonist, Trevor, happily enjoys life here, but then a mysterious person tells him to escape – his reality then quickly unraveling as he realizes that the life he’s been living is a lie. And yes, there’s something very Truman Show-like to this core premise, but the twists keep coming at Out of the Blue has managed to layer additional elements on top of this – and Trevor isn’t the only one who wasn’t in the know this time.

Controlling Trevor feels nothing like Call of the Sea as the gameplay is that of a 2D (puzzle) platformer, at times not unlike games like INSIDE – though with seemingly less intricate puzzles as this game is more narrative-driven. Perhaps this complexity will ramp up in the full game, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t – for the sake of pacing, which we’re fine with as the narrative is so intriguing.

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You see, the other big twist is that the game will leave the 2D world of Trevor behind and switch to a 3D environment in which you control a woman who’s trying to help Trevor escape. It’s not just a fresh break in perspective, it also brings a different gameplay style into the mix – more stealth-like, where you’re hacking doors, disabling cameras and doing whatever you can to keep both yourself and Trevor safe. We didn’t see enough of this portion of the gameplay to be able to tell how well the gameplay itself stands up (in terms of mechanics and puzzle designs), but the interplay between the two parts is certainly an engaging mechanic.

We could see American Arcadia being a game that has limited replay value, but we’re entirely okay with that. It features a narrative premise that we can’t wait to see unfold, and we love the art style of the 2D sections of the game and the wall-breaking switches to the ‘overworld’. One of our most anticipated indies of 2023.

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