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Quantic Dream has partnered with developer Parallel Studio to publish Under the Waves, a narrative game that explores the depth of the sea and human grief.
The companies unveiled the title at the Gamescom Opening Night Live event headed by Geoff Keighley in Cologne, Germany, ahead of the big in-person Gamescom expo.
A poetic narrative-driven adventure, the title is being developed in partnership with the Surfrider Foundation Europe to support the organization’s ecological message and ocean conservancy actions.
The game is a single-player narrative-driven adventure game releasing on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2023.
In the game, the player will dive into the depths of the North Sea to explore a moving and poetic underwater adventure about the engulfing power of grief. Set in a techno-futuristic 1970s, players will follow Stan, a professional diver working for an oil company, facing the isolation of the deep sea as he starts to experience a strange series of events, far beneath the waves.
“This is the most personal and intense work we have ever done as a studio,” said Ronan Coiffec, CEO
and game director of Parallel Studio, in a statement. “We are an indie team of a dozen members, and everything we want to convey is poured into this game, very passionately. From art to writing, from sound design to tech, we all got a chance to leave our mark on Under The Waves. We truly hope you will like it as much as we loved creating it.”
To help deliver this underwater tale, Quantic Dream offered Parallel Studio access to various talent
and creative tools such as motion capture, voice recording, animation, quality assurance, localization
and more. This partnership marks the first time Quantic Dream provides support for a fellow French
studio, both being Paris-based.
Guillaume de Fondaumière, co-CEO of Quantic Dream, said in an interview with GamesBeat said the company was very selective about its choice to publish a third-party game. The company had looked at 20 to 30 games a month before it finally chose to work with Parallel Studio. De Fondaumière said the company provided support such as motion capture services, and it helped Parallel Studio be more ambitious than it expected to be with the title.
“Back in 2021 when we announced our partnership with Parallel Studio, we couldn’t wait for players
to discover their work,” said de Fondaumière. “Today, we are thrilled to present Under The Waves to the world, a unique experience created by a very passionate indie team here in Paris. We’ve been able to work closely together to give them all means they needed to create a game that lived up to their expectations, and achieve their most ambitious project to date. We are also very proud to support Surfrider Foundation Europe, whose message and actions are core to the theme of Under The Waves.”
As a love letter to the ocean, Under The Waves shines a light on the importance of ocean preservation, thanks to its vibrant sea life and subtle messages shared throughout the gameplay experience. Parallel Studio and Quantic Dream are proud to announce a partnership with Surfrider Foundation Europe, a non-profit association responsible for the protection and enhancement of lakes, rivers, oceans, waves, and coastlines.
“We are extremely happy because we’re going to publish the first full-fledged game that we are
working on with a third-party developer from start to finish,” de Fondaumière said. “It’s been a very interesting experience supporting the development team and helping them shape the experience that they had in mind.”
The companies are very close together in Paris, and so it was easier to work together on the project.
Quantic Dream is engaged to financially support the organization through a donation and will actively carry out activities to support the cause during and after the campaign. Through in-game activations, cross-communication, and internal activities, both studios aim to amplify Surfrider’s ecological message and ocean protection actions.
“We are delighted to partner with Quantic Dream for the release of Under the Waves,” said
Pénélope Giroud, marketing and communication manager of Surfrider Foundation Europe, in a statement. “For 30 years, Surfrider Foundation Europe has been working on protecting the oceans, by making the general public aware of all the threats that weigh on them. The game gives us a huge opportunity to educate players on its fragility, especially through the impact of offshore drilling, but also on various other topics. We are pleased to support the game’s creators in getting the right and most impactful messages across and ensuring that they fit perfectly into the game’s storytelling. We are looking forward to its release.”
Under The Waves will immerse players in gorgeous environments, where exploration of caves, wrecks and underwater wildlife will be key to guiding Stan through an unforeseen series of events, deeper and deeper into the abyss. Following mysterious manifestations of his memories, Stan will have the difficult choice to stay lost in the depths forever or break free to the surface.
Quantic Dream is a creative and independent video game studio created in 1997 by David Cage. The studio specializes in creating original experiences based on interactive emotion. Its games include Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human.
Parallel Studio is a French independent video game studio based in Paris, founded by Coiffec, Nicolas Bredin and Sébastien Renard. The studio previously worked on the award-winning indie game White Night, on Dark Days, pioneers of narrative horror games in virtual reality, and recently on EqqO, a poetic game with a multi-layered story. The team working on the game has just 12 people. It is coming for the PC and console in 2023.
“Under the Waves takes place underwater, and it’s about the beauty of the ocean. It’s a really poetic story that questions us as human beings on the way we treat our planet,” de Fondaumière said. “And that was something that we were really attracted to as we talked about how the team wanted to treat this very important question of how the planet is in danger. We thought it had a universal story that could touch quite a broad audience.”
As for the trailer, de Fondaumière said, “We want people to literally dive into the atmosphere under the waves. It’s a pretty slow-paced trailer where you’re discovering the environment where Stan, the character, lives under the water. There are different machines to control and navigate deep in the ocean. You understand there is also a very poetic surreal story behind what’s on the surface. It’s a story about grief and surviving difficult circumstances that you can face. It’s a very profound story.”
He said that Stan’s isolated status appears to be self imposed, and while he is working on a routine maintenance mission, he starts experiencing events that trigger a surreal decision.
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