Lucas Pope – the developer behind Papers, Please and Return of the Obra Dinn – has announced a new project called Mars After Midnight. Anything this developer makes is interesting, but the choice of hardware is especially noteworthy here as the game is made for the Playdate.
The Playdate is a bizarre handheld with a 400 X 240 monochrome screen, a D-pad, A and B buttons… and a crank. That isn’t some new marketing term or anything like that, it’s a literal crank on the side of the Playdate that can be turned and used in games.
For $179 (~R2 425) the Playdate is also extremely expensive, but tries to win over customers with the promise of 24 original games that will be added to it for free.
The combination of unique hardware and a focus on developers may be why Pope became interested in the Playdate, which you can see more of in the trailer below, or on the official site.
With the console understood what about Mars After Midnight? Pope has provided a developer log and introduction to the game here stating that Mars After Midnight will be more light-hearted compared to his dire games made before.
“Right now the concept is still pretty thin. Think Papers Please, -lite, with no border checkpoint, no desk, no paperwork, on Mars. Actually maybe don’t think that. I only have the elements of a game and not the full thing yet. so things are still pretty open-ended,” Pope writes.
The game has three core elements: the visuals, the controls and the martians.
As you may have guessed the visuals and controls are built around the Playdate. These two combine around the core mechanic of peering through a window with the Playdate crank used to open and close the shutter.
The martians will be procedurally generated using a load of pre-made facial features drawn by Pope.
No release date has been set for Mars After Midnight right now. The Playdate itself is scheduled to open its pre-orders in July so the hardware for the game is still a ew months away at least.