Kickstart This! Apocalypse Now

I ummed and awwed over whether to cover Apocalypse Now as part of Kickstart This! I try to steer the column towards games that may be overlooked and are desperately seeking funds, but the film, and by close association this game, feel more relevant than ever.

All is fair in love and war, but crowdfunding campaigns are the perfect analogy for Vietnam. And in its day, re-imagining Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness served as a masterful allegory for the souls of the men sent to fight in a war that history has shown to be a massive mistake. Though this is not the first time Heart of Darkness has graced the gaming world. 2K’s third person shooter, Spec Ops: The Line, also used the book as a basis for its story, and is worth checking out.

Apocalypse Now seemed to strike a chord with many backers, but with each passing day it looked less and less likely that development studio Erebus was going to reach its lofty target of $900,000. And then what happened? The developer cancelled the Kickstarter campaign after reaching less than 20% of their goal.

This is the message they delivered to fans as the last Update on their now defunct Kickstarter page:

When we launched this campaign, we made a mistake. We forgot that many of you have been disappointed by overreaching games and overreaching promises. We had stopped paying attention to the Kickstarter world, when we put our heads down and went to work on this full-steam about 18 months ago — first with documents and then with prototypes. Because we went upriver, we did not remember that those of you who love games and those of you who love Apocalypse Now would immediately treat the announcement not with excitement, but with concern.

But the men and women behind the game have not given up. No sir. They have relocated the crowdfunding campaign to the official Apocalypse Now website, and issued a rallying call to all those who want to see this game happen. It will be done on their terms… and with a much larger funding target.

Queue Ride of the Valkyries

Project: Apocalypse Now
Developer: Erebus
Genre: First Person Survival / Horror
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Funding Target: $5.9 million

What Is It?
Apocalypse Now is a game adaptation of Francis Ford Coppola’s seminal 1979 film of the same name. It followed Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) on a journey through the jungles of war torn Vietnam and Cambodia, to find and assassinate renegade Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has taken over a local tribe and formed his own private army.

Much of the plot of the film remains intact, as players assume control of Willard in this survival horror game. The developers have placed a strong emphasis on an RPG-like narrative, with a focus on decision making, which will affect the outcome of the game. With producers from such games as Wasteland 2 and The Witcher at the helm, they can certain make this different style of RPG work.

There is a wealth of talent behind it, including Rob Auten, who has worked as a lead writer on both the Gears of War and Battlefield franchises. He is joined by producer and director Montgomery Markland, who has worked for big companies including Sega, THQ, Ubisoft, Atari, and Obsidian Entertainment. He is backed by Lawrence Liberty, who was the Lead Producer on Fallout: New Vegas, which is rather apt, as Apocalypse Now is described by the development team as “Fallout: New Vegas On Acid.”

Why Fund It?
Games based on existing properties pop up on Kickstarter all the time, usually as joke campaigns, hoaxes, or ill-thought-out fan fiction. Which is why Apocalypse Now is kinda cool, because it is backed by the original director, Francis Ford Coppola, and his production company, American Zoetrope. Not only that, but the game will use the film’s original score, which was composed by the director’s father, Carmine Coppola.

The target of $900,000 was pretty big for Kickstarter, yet it only represented one fifth of the total development costs. By moving the crowdfunding campaign to its own website, Erebus now has full control. If the rolling donations manage to meet the target, it will manage to avoid the traditional publishing routes. This it is an unproven game, and a controversial one at that, so this may be the only option for it.

The game will rely less on traditional RPG dialogue trees, but instead on how the character poses himself to others, or the actions he takes. Make no mistake, this is not a FPS like the Call of Duty franchise. The developers are actively avoiding that genre, with players discovering that the best strategy is one of caution, stealth, and managing limited resources. How you control Willard will affect how the team around him works, and will serve to either endanger or empower them.

The developers understand the enormity of their task, and have set a delivery date of October 2020 for Apocalypse Now, so the console version may change to the next Xbox or PlayStation.

Best Rewards?

  • Digital copy of the game – $25
  • Digital Deluxe Edition copy of the game, plus 4K wallpaper, and digital novels set in the world of Apocalypse Now – $35
  • Previous rewards, plus digital “Making of” documentary, beta access, and digital Field Manual of Captain Willard – $50
  • Previous rewards, plus digital art book and digital strategy guide – $65

Until Next Time…
The Apocalypse Now project is the ultimate nostalgia rush for older gamers who remember the film being released. However, that is not to say it is not relevant in today’s world. The most recent poster for Kong: Skull Island is a beautiful homage to the Apocalypse Now poster, with Brando replaced by the titular Kong.

If you have not seen Apocalypse Now, I would urge you to do so. And if it speaks to you the way it spoke to an entire generation past, then why not fund the game?

This entry was posted in Features, PC, PS4, Top Story, Xbox One and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

In addition to being Warp Zoned’s UK Correspondent, Andrew Rainnie is a screenwriter and filmmaker. You can email him at andrew AT warpzoned DOT com or you can, if you’re inclined, visit his personal website.

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