“Harold Halibut”, a sumptuous video game despite some shortcomings – rts.ch

“Harold Halibut”, a sumptuous video game despite some shortcomings – rts.ch
“Harold Halibut”, a sumptuous video game despite some shortcomings – rts.ch

Fourteen years of meticulous work. That’s how long it took German studio Slow Bros to release “Harold Halibut”, a video game made entirely in stop-motion. Released on April 16, the aesthetics and narrative are stunning, but the gameplay leaves something to be desired.

Harold, a clumsy and dreamy anti-hero, has always lived on FEDORA, a spaceship submerged in an alien ocean. This ship had left Earth 250 years ago due to a war, before finding itself stuck on this aquatic planet.

The days pass quietly and Harold works as an assistant to Jeanne Mareaux, a scientist who is trying at all costs to leave the planet and find a drier place. But one fine day, an unexpected encounter will turn Harold’s daily life upside down.

Retrofuturistic gem

The birth of “Harold Halibut” is linked to a small team of twelve people, passionate about stop-motion. To develop all the characters and settings for this video game, in the “doll’s house” version, required expert work. Parts to weld, miniature clothes and faces the size of a walnut, the design work took several years.

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The puppets were then scanned and modeled in 3D for a unique visual rendering, explains Stéphane Laurenceau, producer of the show Super Flux on Couleur 3. And the gaming specialist adds: “We are in a world between ‘Wallace and Gromit ‘ and ‘Thunderbirds,’ the 1960s animated series.

In addition to its aesthetics, “Harold Halibut” also stands out for its excellent narration. The characters each have a well-established character. There’s humor, drama and a whole lot of discovery and puzzle-solving.

Among the weaknesses noted, video game enthusiasts note certain lengths, lack of precision in movements and a fairly repetitive and timid “game play”.

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“Harold Halibut”, Slow Bros, available on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox since April 16, 2024.

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