It’s been a few months that I followed the atypical project “Militsioner” of the Russian studio “TALLBOYS”. A game in which we play as a man accused of a crime that he knows nothing about and who finds himself held captive by a giant policeman. The very Kafkaesque pitch, the sandbox cat and mouse game and the possibility of using your microphone to communicate with the inhabitants of the city and our jailer, have everything to intrigue. But as pictures are better than a thousand words, I let you discover the trailer on the official studio channel:
Militsioner is a first-person surreal immersive runaway simulator. The Giant-Policeman keeps order in town. You haven’t broken the law, have you? Of course, someone must have been telling lies, but this morning you were arrested.TALLBOYS
With such a nice surprise, I couldn’t help but ask for an interview and the studio very kindly accepted. Have a good read! hoping that the project will seduce you as much as I do!
– Does the name of your studio “Tallboys” echo the Militsioner game? Did you have this project in mind for a long time?
Vladimir Semenets (Art Director / Game Designer) : No, we thought long and hard about what to name our team before publishing the first Pandemic Express trailers. And as I recall, we agreed on the name tallboys because I had an idea for a design code, using only legs and feet. It’s like we’re so tall, you can’t frame in camera anything else.
– Was the concept born with the idea of the Militsioner? Or was the original idea different ?
Vladimir : We had a lot of different ideas, the main thing that they had in common was the escape.
– What is the biggest challenge to overcome when holding such a project ?
Vladimir : For me, determining the direction of game design. I wanted to convey a sense of escape and connect it to a giant, without losing the identity of a policeman. To make the player feel like he’s playing against a real Giant-Policeman, not against a “game”. It was also important to bear in mind that the most important thing in escape is crossing the line between the safety of the prison and the risk of actually running away. That’s why we needed to find interesting communication and planning so that when the escape itself came, it felt stronger.
-We could see that the game benefited from a daily cycle, that the player found himself wrongly accused and that he was going to be sentenced to prison, is the objective of fleeing the city to be achieved in a certain time limit ?
Vladimir : Yes. Any escape must have a rising pressure. Whether it’s a zombie mob that’s constantly growing or a danger and growing fear of going to prison.
– Before Militsioner, you did two projects which are “pandemic express” and “Where the clouds End”, what are the games and the creatives that inspire the studio ?
Vladimir : It’s a lot. For me, the closest inspiration was the “Thief” from Looking Glass Studios, one of the most immersive and fresh games, that I’ve played recently. And this is despite the year of release and the technical limitations. Also, of course, Pathologic from Ice-Pick Lodge. It was the most traumatic playing experience I’ve ever had. I couldn’t complete it, but it had the most immersion and depth that I saw in any other game. Everything from Supergiant games is a must. The large part of our design was inspired by Dishonored and Inside.
-We could see that you quoted the poem “La conscience” by Victor Hugo in a tweet about Militsioner, was this poem part of the creation process ?
Dmitry Shevchenko (Studio Director /Game Designer) : We found out about the poem in comments to the first announcement of Militsioner. We really liked the images and the ideas and how they fit into the theme of the game. So yes, the poem has become part of the creation process.
Link to discover the poem in its entirety (thank you Phil James for the translation ! ) : https://medium.com/@philnicolasjames/la-conscience-by-victor-hugo-b96e7266a98
– Were you inspired by other literary or filmic references ?
Vladimir : Yes. The whole theme of a game was inspired by “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and “the Trial” by Franz Kafka.
Dmitry : As a visual reference for creating an atmosphere, I often refer to Andrey Tarkovsky’s films, particularly “Stalker”. I really like the environment in Nikita Mikhalkov’s movie, “At Home Among Strangers”. The location in the movie reminds me very much of where I live and it contains a collective image of the abstract landscape of Russia in one place.
– The Militsioner of the game has been described as similar to “Uncle Stopya” (character from Russian poems), while the city of the game echoes the popular imagery of the former USSR, what are the themes that are important to you? What feeling do you want to share with the player through this aesthetic ?
Vladimir : We want to show a post-Soviet period. You can’t have a dialogue about the present in Russia without taking into account the influence of the Soviet Union, the country is mostly frozen in time. We want to convey the feeling of an average small Russian town, nothing more. This picture will speak for itself.
– The character of Uncle Stopya is originally described as wise, generous and courageous, yet the giant is not necessarily seen as a bad person, he just refers to an authority figure (Big Brother). Is this ambiguity intended to keep the player’s sympathy for it? What does the Militsioner represent for you ?
Vladimir : We want Militsioner to not be only black or white. It has to be nuanced. As for our interpretations, I think it’s better to leave to the viewer.
– How do you relate to the wave of nostalgia for the Soviet Union ? The Militsioner’s black and white close-ups remind us of Soviet cinema in the 1920s.
Vladimir : Of course we have a bit of nostalgia for the cinema and art of the time, but this detail just came out of a search to show an interesting change of mood of the Militsioner. We didn’t want it to feel like a UI.
This is where the interview ends, I would like to thank TALLBOYS studio for accepting and I wish them to complete this project, atypical, intriguing and potentially rich in original ideas and concepts! Definitely a game that, personally, I will follow closely until its release!
The links to follow the studio :
Official website : https://www.tallboysgames.com/
Discord : https://discord.com/invite/7gP2hCW
Twitter : https://twitter.com/mytallboys
Youtube : https://www.youtube.com/c/TALLBOYS
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/mytallboys
TikTok : https://www.tiktok.com/@tallboys?
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/mytallboys/