Town Of Light is one my favourite narrative experiences ever. If you haven’t already please take a look at my full review here. There’s a hauntingly dark story to be told in Town of Light that is told with great artistic care. It spoke to me so much I decided to find a little bit more about some of the ideas and thoughts that went behind making Town of Light. Luca Dalcò played no small part in creating the environment and story that resonated so strongly with me so I took the chance to ask him a few questions.
Q: What was your inspiration for the story of Town of Light?
A: The inspiration for The Town of Light comes from a combination based on personal experience, a passion for history and love for videogame as a medium that is becoming mature to tell stories that are not covered by usual media. The project start as a research project in the use of Unity engine to recreate real architecture. At some point, we started our research and decided that we wanted to make a game about our discovering.
Q: Why do you think video games are good at telling this kind of story?
A: I believe the best answer is games allows you to “live” a story, to immerse yourself in something at your own pace. Since the release of the game and before, through our beta testers, we found that people want to play in different ways. Some want to know everything about Renee, some want to explore the asylum, which is real, which exists and for which you can find information and pictures on the internet. The indie scene is allowing common people to experiment, and to try to cover topics that seemed unimaginable only few years ago. Products like Hellblade, That Dragon Cancer etc are just an example on this.
Q: How much of Renee’s story and the events of the asylum are true?
A: Renee is a fictional character. We decided to not pursue a real story due to respect of the patients and their memory. However, and this was really important for us, we have collected tons of different stories and create Renee’s based on blending those to create a realistic, plausible character. We have a book with all possible details about her and we use only a fraction in the Town of Light.
Q: Did you find it emotionally challenging working with the stories from the Asylum?
A: Indeed, too often people forgot what kind of horror surround us, where we came from, what our history is telling us. We live in a world where mental health is treated with care and respect, with lots of knowledge and a sensitive approach. To get here though, was a long journey, a journey that unfortunately include some very horrible therapies and a some flawed science that desperately tried experimental therapies without having enough knowledge to provide solutions. One thing to notice is that in the 40s there were no painkillers, for example.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced creating Town of Light?
A: We are a small team at our first game, so the list is really long! One of the biggest challenges was balancing the narrative with respect and without spoiling the topic. This was our first aim, we did not communicate what was happening to Renee, we wanted the player to form his/her own opinion, have their own doubts growing while playing and create empathy with Renee.
Q: What do you hope people remember most after playing Town of Light?
A: We would like for people to remember the past of mental health and how lucky we are now. We would also like them to think about how mental health is something more near to us than people usually believe, hopefully removing the stigma of talking about it.
The Town of Light is really a game you must experience if you are even slightly interested in mature games. It’s a great game with a story and an important message and it’s well worth your time.