Ghost of a Tale: When the Rats Aren’t There, the Mouse Sings

Indiescovery is your appointment with independent video game A free chronicle written with passion after exactly 2 hours and 12 minutes of play. If we tell you about it, we liked it. Good discovery!


Where we talk about France…

If you’ve ever been through that weekly diatribe we call Indiescovery, I guess you know that the first part is a text that somehow ends up taking us back to the game of the week. Today, I was spoilt for choice as to what to talk about. I could have talked to you about animation, fantasy (the genre of course), cute little critters, but I chose instead to evoke our sweet country, France. Because the title I would mention in a few paragraphs is the work of a handful of French people and that the French in video games there are a few of them. And the worst thing, you see, is that they’re doing great! However, I’m not going to limit myself to telling you about French studios, developers and other composers, but also to talk a little bit about the place that France occupies video games

“When we think of Video games we often distinguish between Japanese games and Western games.”

When we think of video games we often make a distinction between Japanese games and Western games, which often refers to American productions. A rather quick shortcut when you know the propensity of European countries to give birth to studios that have them in their belly. England, the Nordic countries like Sweden or Finland for example, but also Germany, the land of the most obscure simulation games, are rich countries with a strong videogame history. And France of course. Well beyond Ubisoft, which hasn’t really been a French company for a long time there are many studios and creators who have, each in their own way, marked the history of video games That’s right, that’s all!

According to the almighty Wikipedia (you have to look it up somewhere), there were nearly 1,200 video game companies in our beautiful country in the late 1990s, making it the fifth largest video game industry in the world. Not bad for such a small country, eh? Companies like Microïds, Lankhor, Kalisto Entertainment, Delphine Software or Infogrames, whose name is probably familiar to you if, like me, you’ve been dragging your spats in video games since time immemorial. If the French video game industry suffered greatly from the 2002 crisis, leading to the closure or buyout of many studios, the French Touch, as marketers of all kinds like to say, has not succumbed.

Ghost of a tale

The beginning of the adventure, locked in a small cell…

Today, the French video game industry has never been better thanks to a few studios that have delivered some great successes. We will think for example of Ankama, now at the head of a real empire built around Wakfu and Dofus, but also of Cyanidefrom Bordeaux , Quantic Dream from Bordeaux (whatever we think of David Cage),Arkane from Lyon (who do a great job) or my favourites: Dontnod (by the way, play Remember Me or Life is Strange, you won’t regret it). These are all well-established studios, regularly dredged up by the major publishers so that their productions can be included in their catalogues.

“Because you see, in recent years the country of Gérard Depardieu has delivered some very nice successes among the Indians.”

But to confine ourselves to the “big” French studios would be a monumental mistake. You see, in recent years, Gérard Depardieu’s country has delivered some very nice successes in the indie scene. Monumental cardboard box of 2017 and 2018, Dead Cells is the fruit of the work of the Bordeaux based Motion Twin who released there their first game out of browser (they had nevertheless a great baggage with La Brut or Hordes). A Metroidvania with Rogue Lite’s masturbating Metroidvania with false tunes of Dark Souls. An explosive cocktail served up by stunning graphics and a gameplay as deep as it is demanding that has hit the international market, trusting sales like the front page of Twitch for a while.

Ghost of a tale

As a mouse, you will be able to sneak into many places inaccessible to other animals.

Alongside Motion Twin, there are a whole host of other equally competent studios that are going to, or have delivered some extremely pleasant tracks. I’m thinking of Swing Swing Submarines and its Seasons after Fall, to the productions ofAmplitude or Mi-Clos (Out There in the lead). I also think about the work done by Arkedo or Pastagames, to Mother Russia Bleeds of Cartel (which should not be long in announcing its second production), to Neurovoider (and soon Scourgebringer) of Flying Oaks Games, to Fury by The Game Baker, and so many others that I don’t have the place to quote (otherwise I’ll get my fingers slapped by my column leader who can be quite virulent when he wants).

“Beyond the studios, French video games are also a flock of outstanding personalities, visionary creators”.

Beyond the studios, French Video games are also a host of outstanding personalities, visionary creators who have each in their own way made their own contribution to the video game industry. Michel Ancel, for example, whomUbisoft can still thank today for having given birth to Rayman and his universe, but who is also at the origin of Beyond Good and Evil. But also Frédérick Raynal for his Alone in the Dark, Eric Chahi for his Another World, and even Yves Guillemot for his vision of Video games which he has instilled in Ubisoft since its creation. Beyond these creators, incredible composers also appeared in the wake of these studios. Take Christophe Heral, who gave his musical color to Beyond Good and Evil, or Olivier Derivière, who gave us the incredible soundtrack of Remember Me (frankly, go ahead and listen to it, you won’t believe it). Same thing for Arnaud Roi, or FlyByNo of his nickname, responsible for the soundtrack of all Amplitudeproductions.

Ghost of a tale

To survive, you’ll have to learn to hide from the guards…

However, France’s place in video games is not limited to its creators. Because our green lands have been used time and time again by video game studios as a setting for their productions.

It will come as no surprise, for example, that many video games dealing with the First or Second World War put some of their action in it. Just take the first Battelfield, Call of Duty and other Hearts of Iron to find references to the landing beaches and other battlefields. Paris is also a privileged destination for Video Games Assassin’s Creed Unity, Sly 2 : Band of Thieves or the Knights of Baphomet allow us to visit the capital and its depths. Special mention to Remember Me which presents us with a futuristic vision of Paname, sublimated by the work of Viktor Antonov.

I would also like to take this opportunity to tell you aboutOnimusha 3, which took place between Paris and the Mont SAINT MICHEL (which, let’s not forget, was cowardly stolen by the Normans from the Bretons), but which above all had the merit of putting us in the shoes of none other than Jean Reno. If that’s not class! All this to tell you, in the end, that France and video games is a business that’s going pretty well.

Our beautiful country is full of talented creators who deliver games that are great in so many ways. And that is why I am proud to speak to you today about one of them.

Ghost of a Tale

by Seith CG (2018-2019)

“Ghost of a Tale is a track created by the Seith CG studio, which more or less consists of Lionel Gallat.”

Ghost of a Tale is not a “recent” game per se. Released on early access in 2016, it was not until March 2018 to see it arrive in its final version, and March of this year that it found its way onto the console. It was on this occasion (and because I finally had time to play it in my other professional life), that I decided to dedicate this Indiescovery to him. Ghost of a Tale is a title created by the Seith CG studio, which is more or less made up of Lionel Gallat (although he was joined during development by a few other people to fill in for him).

Ghost of a tale

The release from the dungeons, a wonderful moment that reveals all the beauty of the game.

Coming straight from Perpignan, Lionel Gallat made his first steps at Dreamworks and Universal as an animator, officiating for example on Gang de Requin or Moi, Moche et Méchant. Tired after fifteen years working in animation, he gave up everything to create his first video game taking care of game and level design, art direction, character animation, coding and a bunch of other little things. And the least that can be said after playing the game like I did is that the bugger is full of talent!

“Lionel Gallat’s animated film past sweats through all the polygons of Ghost of a Tale.”

And it is obvious, literally, from the first few seconds after you start the game. Lionel Gallat’s past in animated film transpires through all the polygons of Ghost of a Tale. Magnificent environments, fine and detailed textures, play of lights and striking particles, everything is already there to give us a little slap in the face. And then our character, a small anthropomorphic mouse, starts to move. And there, what can I say except that I spent a few seconds, stunned, in front of the beauty of the animations. Every movement, from the movement to the way the rodent climbs onto an element of the decor, borders on perfection. And the same goes for all the characters, friends or enemies, that you will come across during your peregrinations.

Ghost of Tale is beautiful. Incredibly beautiful even. And each section you will pass through is a vibrant testimony to Lionel Gallat’s talent, and the love he poured into his game. As is often the case in independent productions, we are dealing here with the work of a passionate person who has decided to devote himself heart and soul to the realization of a project that was close to his heart. The realization of a particular vision, anchored in the deepest depths of its author. Because beyond this dream plastic, Ghost of Tale offers us a perfectly satisfying gaming experience.

Ghost of a tale

Address and discretion will be your most faithful allies during your exploration.

As its name suggests, the title of Lionel Gallat takes on the finery of a fairy tale. A beautiful adventure, with a glimpse of fantasy, which puts us in the shoes of Tilo, a mouse, bard of his state, imprisoned in Fort Deruine. His quest? To find Mera, his wife, also imprisoned, but he does not know where. After escaping from his cell with the help of a providential helper, Tilo will embark on this quest, meeting colorful characters, among pirate frogs, messenger rats and thieving mice. So many encounters that will allow him to progress in his quest and in the discovery of this animal world.

“There’s only one way out, escape the fight, and get around the obstacles using your ingenuity and your ability to hide in the elements of the scenery.”

On the gameplay side, Ghost of Tale plays the infiltration card. As a mouse, you are not very strong, especially against the armed rats that populate Fort Deruine and its surroundings. There is only one solution, therefore, to flee the battle, and get around the obstacles by using your ingenuity and your ability to hide in the elements of the scenery. It’s up to you to spot guards and their routines, manage the noise you make, or use something to defuse a potentially dangerous situation. Add to this the possibility to collect various outfits to disguise yourself, and you get a very interesting gameplay, which can be tamed in a few seconds, without being too simple.

Ghost of a tale

The rat guards, a constant threat on your peregrinations…

Especially since the work done on the design of the levels, and their architecture, is absolutely admirable. Initially labyrinthine, they gradually reveal their secrets as you explore and discover new things. Shortcuts, keys to open new rooms, secret passages and other things of the same kind come together to form a perfectly organic whole that is very pleasant to visit. The same goes for the story that dresses its places. Because in addition to meeting the characters, with whom you will be able to chat, and who will sometimes give you quests, you will also be able to discover many documents to read that will allow you to further discover the game’s universe.

«. Because, quite frankly, Ghost of Tale is worth a look, and not just for its beauty.”

I could still talk to you at length about Ghost of Tale and its qualities, even though I’ve only played a couple of hours. But there are some universes that you have to discover by yourself and I wouldn’t want to spoil your first taste of them. Ghost of Tale is worth a look, and not just for its beauty. Behind this extremely pleasant facade lies an extremely well-structured infiltration game, with a solid narrative and universe, which also has the luxury of tackling strong themes with great intelligence. So you know what you have to do (and long live the French video game!).

We leave you with this trailer of the game (already available on Steam):

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