A Crimson Searchlight – Feels like a sci-fi Papers, Please

A Crimson Searchlight – Feels like a sci-fi Papers, Please

A cyber-noir game set in the near future, where artificial beings have become indistinguishable from humans. You are an agent for the Department of Android and Robotic Control. Your task: to investigate suspected artificials, infiltrate their residences and determine their humanity.

A Crimson Searchlight, a game being developed by a friend of mine in the development world, Dillon Rogers & his merry band of misfits. I first met Dillon while we were both on the development team for Faceless (which is now being helmed by Adam Sklar, and his team at Blacklight Studios). Dillon showed a ton of promise in terms of level design, and he made some brilliant work in the form of Hyde St. Station for Faceless. I was sad seeing him depart the team, but now I’m really glad he did because now he’s working on something quite remarkable, and is now one of my most anticipated games over on IndieDB.

In Searchlight, players assume the role of an agent from the Department of Artificial and Robotic Control whom receives a device for testing called URN (Uncanny Radial Neutralizer) which is used to essentially vaporize a target if they player decides that they’re some type of illegal android.Pulled from the IndieDB page: You bring the device via a suitcase to the suspect’s apartment, do your investigation and then decide whether to do two options:

  1. Don’t place the URN and return back to the agency. A report is filed that notates that the suspect was deemed human.
  2. Place the URN in a inconspicuous spot and return back to the agency. After the suspect has been vaporized, you receive back the exhausted device as well as a time-frame of when the occupant came home and was erased.

So, here’s where the game gives off that delectable vibe from a hit indie-game Papers, Please which was released earlier this year to critical acclaim. Considering the similarities I wonder if the developers, and game itself will take emotion into effect. Sometimes you’d have an inner struggle rejecting someone in PP, and the same could be said for Crimson Searchlight. The person could indeed be an android, but maybe they’re just trying to cope in this dystopian world, and you could choose not to vaporize them, and deem them human.

“As humans and artificials share the exact same physiology and the differences are completely behavioral/psychological, the URN does not differentiate between the two. If you are completely convinced that someone is a human being, you can still vaporize them.

The consequences down the road will reflect that. The cases you are assigned are all linked in some way. Thus, vaporizing several people will cause a reactionary effect from future suspects. Sometimes it’s just visually seeing how they are coping with someone’s disappearance. Other times, it causes suspects to become extra paranoid and hide their valuables in better spots or have harder passwords/locks.

If you don’t vaporize anyone (or let obvious artificials get away), the department starts to become suspicious of you. They begin to believe that you are actively helping the artificials, and they start doing things like demoting your office or even spying on and threatening you. Most of this is pure environmental storytelling, but I believe players will enjoy the different things that happen to them on their play-through.”


It’s going to be interesting to see where this project goes in the coming months, or even years and I have high hopes that this title will bring something unique to the indie-game market. I honestly cannot wait to see more from the game, and I’ll leave you with a link to vote for the game in the IndieDB IOTY Awards for 2013. I pray that these guys bring home some kind of award for this project. They deserve it.

Stay tuned for more updates, and hopefully I can sit down with Dillon shortly and discuss the project in full, and possibly bring you guys some juicy information about the game.


Justin Ross

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