ATONE: Heart of The Elder Tree is a story-driven puzzle game inspired by Norse Mythology and set in a 2D world comprised entirely of hand-drawn art. Players inherit the journey of a young warrior named Estra, solving moss covered puzzles and surviving rhythm battle sequences as she ventures to unveil the truth behind her father’s death. The game is scheduled for release in 2019 via Apple Arcade.
The Gods have abandoned Midgard. Once a prosperous land teeming with mythical beasts and beings, it now rots from the inside, tainted by unknown forces. Odin’s chosen guardians of the realm are gone. In their absence, the sacred Elder Tree they swore to protect is exposed to abuse and manipulation. Now, the only remnants of hope reside in Estra, the daughter of mankind’s last great leader.
Twelve years after escaping the vicious ambush that claimed the life of her father, Estra is troubled by heady dreams of events both past and present; visions that settle like cold stones in her stomach. She awakes to discover that the sacred gemstone her father gave her has started to glow.
ATONE’s story was inspired by Norse Mythology, and written by Wildboy Studios & Rebecca Haigh; a UK-based writer who recently wrote for Salix Games’ Du Lac & Fey: Dance of Death.
Estra’s path is fraught with difficult decisions and untrustworthy characters that can lead her astray. Her story is intertwined with the player’s ability to discern fact from fiction and to decide right from wrong. Avoid battle, help companions, save your people, but remember that the consequences are Estra’s to bear.
Along the way, players must solve incrementally challenging puzzles that reveal insightful secrets, fantastical abilities, and hidden passageways. Outside of conversations, puzzles are the dominant obstructions that Estra must overcome. Trial and error is important, but patience is necessary. Not every problem allows for multiple mistakes and failure is most certainly an option. The answers you seek may be lost if you make the wrong decision. Knowledge is a reward, not a gift.
Violence isn’t always necessary, but, when push comes to shove, ATONE’s combat is a delicate dance of sword and axe. Fight sequences are grounded in the rhythm game genre, in the spirit of titles like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. Characters charge into an epic slow-motion hack-n-slash, where the player’s ability to sync button combinations with the beat of battle-specific songs will dictate who lives and who dies. Music is a crucial component, with each fight receiving it’s very own score, courtesy of composer, Luminist (a.k.a. James Shuar).
Everything in ATONE is individually crafted. Every moss-covered statue, every rune-laden tomb, every billowing patch of grass. Using only the trackpad on a Macbook, Wildboy Studios has meticulously realized the realm of Midgard.
With over 40 minutes of Rotoscoped cutscenes, Estra's journey is brought to life in vivid detail.
The game’s art direction is influenced by a wide variety of material, ranging from the visual stylings of animation master, Genndy Tartakovsky, (Samurai Jack, Clone Wars) to the angular, colourful environments of Monument Valley.
ATONE’s music and sound design are composed by Australian artist, Luminist (a.k.a. James Shuar) and American composer, Andrew Prahlow (Outer Wilds, Eclipse Edge of Light). The pair blend a synth-heavy score with the digitally corrupted sounds of period-specific instruments. Exploration and discovery are accompanied by wondrous electronica spliced with tainted flutes, harps, and other Viking-era tools of song. With ATONE’s rhythm game combat system, each fight is set to it’s own distinct musical composition that ebbs and flows with the player’s input; a digitally charged take on the battle hymns of Norse Mythology.
Also tasked with creating the game's sound design, Shuar and Prahlow's music covers every frame of ATONE.
Shuar released his first EP, “Simulations,” under the Luminist moniker in 2017. Prior to that, he composed music for the animated short film, Jumpy, by Anthony Falleroni. He’s also released Metroid: Resynthesized, and Super Metroid: Resynthesized; analog adaptations of the Metroid and Super Metroid soundtracks.
In 2015, Andrew Prahlow's music was featured in trailers for Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’. From 2015-2016, he composed ambient guitar soundscapes for the Madden NFL franchise. In 2017, Andrew wrote an arrangement of ‘Be Our Guest’ for the 2017 Academy Awards ‘Beauty and the Beast’ TV spot, and the score to the Mobile VR Game of the Year, ‘Eclipse: Edge of Light’. Andrew also writes for trailer campaigns, including ‘Star Wars’, ‘Avengers,’ ‘Blade Runner 2049’, and ‘Star Trek’ - often collaborating with Mark Petrie. More recently, he has earned critical acclaim for his soundtrack for 'Outer Wilds.' .
ATONE is the first game created by Wildboy Studios; a New Zealand-based company comprised of Ben Costeloe (Visuals), Patric Corletto (Programming), and Sid Bardiya (Jack of all trades). The game’s story is written by Wildboy Studios and UK-based writer, Rebecca Haigh. The musical score is composed by AU-based artist, Luminist (a.k.a. James Shuar) and American composer, Andrew Prahlow. ATONE was produced by US-based Jim DeLuca, who also handles the game's publicity.