We go hands on with Epic store exclusive Close to the Sun

Will this Bioshock-esque action horror game be enough to pull you away from Steam?

As well as having a chance to play a demo build of alternative history horror game Close to the Sun, we recently sat down with the game’s designer Joel Hakalax, to find out just how the team at Storm in a Teacup came to assemble this tense art nouveau world.

For Hakalax, Close to the Sun is best described as ”A horror adventure featuring Nikola Tesla” where ”science is pushed to the extremes.” Extremes, indeed. In this very Bioshock-esque world, Nikola Tesla’s inventions, particularly in the field of electricity, have already had an impact on the world. Rather than dying in relative obscurity as the real Tesla sadly did, this Tesla has elevated himself to the status of an almost godlike figure. But we all know the tale of Icarus – what goes up must come down.

The alternative history angle was a conscious choice for the developers at Storm in a Teacup, as Hakalax explained: ”Fantasy at its best is anchored in truth, so we wanted to anchor our alternative version of the world in as much truth as possible. We stumbled upon Nikolas Tesla early on in our brainstorming sessions and from there it just sort of extrapolated into this massive, massive thing. Having real historical points of commonality for our universe and the real world really adds that extra spice on [the players] experience.”

Close to the Sun

The food metaphors did not stop there. The game’s links to Nikolas Tesla were developed around the team’s core horror story throughout development – ”game development to some degree is like baking,” says Hakalax. “The yeast grows as you put it into the oven. This project has certainly had that moment when we discovered what the game should be as we made it, so it’s been a really exciting process to dive into this universe.”

The team have been working on Close to the Sun for two years and the level of detail research really does show. In our playthrough of the demo, taking on the role of the protagonist Rose was as seamless and immersive as you expect from any big budget game. The narrative follows Rose, a journalist who has stepped aboard the experimental cruise liner the Helios, an invention of Tesla’s, in search of her missing sister Aida. As you might expect, all is not well with this impressive ship.

In Close to the Sun’s short demo the gameplay mostly involved exploring, puzzles solving and one particularly tricky chase scene that does a good job of getting your heart rate up. Coming to the Epic Store for PC and Consoles sometime this year, we’re excited to see the game fully formed, and so too is Hakalax; ‘Right now it’s all about work work work and get that final build done and what happens after that, who knows. We’re toying around with ideas for DLCs (…) but that’s a problem for a later day, right now there’s enough on our plate just to just get this beast wrapped up and shipped.’

To stay updated with Close to the Sun, keep an eye on the game’s website.