An interview with Parabole’s Jean-François Fiset
We recently caught up with Jean-François Fiset, Community Manager at Parabole to chat about their new title, Kona, an adventure, survival game set in Northern Canada. As private detective, Carl Fauber, you’ll investigate strange happenings in a remote, eerie village whilst battling the elements to survive.
The first instalment in what’s set out to be a series of four games, Kona is a first-person adventure game that incorporates survival mechanics. After a rich industrialist has several acts of vandalism committed against his property he requested Carl’s help to investigate the situation, but things are not as they seem. Upon arrival, Carl becomes trapped in the small town after the area is engulfed in an unexpected snowstorm. Fiset had this to say to IIG about the core design of the game.
“Kona blends the immersive atmosphere of a modern survival title with the deep storytelling and puzzle-solving aspects of a classic adventure game. By wrapping many gameplay mechanics around its story, Kona blurs the lines between today’s genres.”
The series is planned to have four titles in total, Kona being the first. Although Parabole were not yet ready to discuss the other three titles, they did confirm the games would not be episodic. Each game will be standalone and feature different design elements, gameplay mechanics and characters. The four acts of this series may be completely separate, but all will take place within the same universe. This would lead you to believe the games could possibly be connected in some way, but Parabole were very tight lipped about this assumption. The scope and vision of this project are clear and Fiset was eager to point out it hasn’t been all smiles and rainbows. The team have faced a lot of challenges along the way in bringing such an ambitious series of titles to market.
“Funding the project was obviously the biggest challenge. We are only 7 people in our team, but we don’t want anyone to work for free. Even projects as ambitious as ours will make investors reluctant when it’s a studio’s first game. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014 though, we were able to earn extra funding from Canada Media Funds because we had more than 1,300 people backing our project. We then decided to launch the game on Early Access to help us survive, but also to help us make the game better thanks to the awesome feedback we received from our community. We finally signed a deal with RavenScourt so that they could help us publishing our game on other platforms (Xbox One, PS4, etc).” Fiset told IIG.
Kona presents the player with a vast, open world of possibilities. This is a tale that challenges you not just to explore, but to survive in the harsh environment of Northern Canada. The player is given the tools to endure the unforgiving landscape, but how they choose to utilise those tools is up to them. Kona doesn’t lock you into one type of playstyle but instead allows you to approach situations in your own way. When asked whether the game was about confrontation or escape Fiset had this to say to IIG.
“The player can actually do both in most cases. He has different ways to deal with enemies (violent/non-violent, escape/engage). Players who explore a lot will end up having a few weapons and items to deal with threats the way they want to.”
Kona interestingly features an omniscient narrator who interjects throughout the game adding information and weight to the story. Narration in video-games is never easy due to the player’s ability to control the character and change their path at any moment. It seems an effective method of storytelling here though within Kona’s detailed characters and rich lore. The narrator’s well-performed lines are not the only audio you’ll get to enjoy throughout the game. There’s also a rather atmospheric soundtrack interspersed throughout the story featuring music by Quebec folk band Curé Label, adding to the authentic experience Kona delivers.