Once again looking ahead at the exciting games that 2023 will bring, we point the spotlight on Wired Productions. They have a number of extremely promising titles in the works, and we were fortunate enough to check two of them out alongside their developers. Here’s a closer look at Tin Hearts and The Last Worker.
Tin Hearts preview
We loved what we had seen of Tin Hearts in trailers, so we were eager to check it out in person alongside Chris Brooks, senior producer for developer Rogue Sun – a team that also features a number of people who previously worked on Fable at Lionhead. Tin Hearts has a similar spark of magic with its audiovisual style and story, but other than that it’s a completely different type of game – one that’s coming out relatively soon for PlayStation, Xbox, PC, VR and the Nintendo Switch. For that last platform, it snagged the “most wanted” award at Gamescom a few months ago, so we’re definitely not the only ones looking forward to this.
Story-wise, Tin Hearts is about Albert J. Butterworth, an inventor who lived in Victorian times. The story itself will unfold over the course of three acts and promises to deliver a warm and emotional narrative. And while our short session with the game couldn’t reveal too much of said story, it’s safe to say that if they can match the charm that oozes out of the visuals they’re at least halfway there.
Focusing more on the gameplay side of things, Tin Hearts has you guiding a group of toy soldiers from the start of each level to an exit, playing a variety of “track parts” in this 3D world to help them follow the right path. It’s part The Incredible Machine, and – as Brooks pointed out – part Lemmings, and the game’s 40+ levels become increasingly complex. So while you’ll initially just use triangle shapes to divert the soldiers towards a different direction, before too long you’ll be juggling different mechanics – some of them even including time manipulation.
On top of what promises to be a very engaging and challenging puzzler, Tin Hearts also features an absolutely wonderful audiovisual presentation, with an art style that’s beyond lovely and toy contraptions that evoke memories of the film Hugo. It’s a charming depiction of a Victorian-era story that’s almost fairytale-like in its delivery, and the fact that it has VR support so we can check it all out up close has us sold on that version as well. Rogue Sun’s debut title is one that we as puzzle fans have high on our list for this year.
The Last Worker preview
Another promising Wired title that is coming out for VR is The Last Worker, which is also receiving Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 5, VR and Xbox Series S/X versions – this one’s currently skipping the last-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles. It’s being developed by Oiffy and Wolf & Wood Interactive, and we went hands on with it alongside writer/director Jörg Tittel, who previously wrote and directed films like The White King with Jonathan Pryce.
In the aptly titled The Last Worker, technological innovation has progressed to a point where you’re now Kurt, the very last of the humans working at an order fulfillment center. In what’s obviously a dystopian setting, what unfolds from there is a narrative that’s both dramatic and intellectually stimulating, as well as funny in places thanks to some witty dialogue.
The delivery here plays no small part either, as the game’s developers have employed the voice talents of people like Jason Isaacs, David Hewlett and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, with a musical score produced by Oliver Kraus, who’s worked with the likes of Adele and Sia. To top it off, comics artist Mick McMahon (of Judge Dredd fame) has supplied handpainted 3D art for the game, giving The Last Worker plenty of character from all production angles.
Gameplay-wise, the game promises to be a narrative-driven and (from what we could tell) somewhat linear adventure – but one where different gameplay mechanics get alternated regularly. One moment you’re calmly following along with the program, while the next moment has you hiding from danger or rushing through a scene towards safety. Played in VR, especially when combined with the rich audiovisual delivery, this’ll be an immersive experience that’s going to be hard to put down. On the flat screen its stylized but relatively low detail visuals will make you wonder why it’s not available on PS4 and Xbox One, but fans of narrative-driven adventures with excellent production values should definitely mark this one on their agendas when a release date is announced.