OPUS: Rocket of Whispers takes place in a world where society lives peacefully under one religion, known as earthology. The primary belief of this affiliation is that when people die, their spirits need to be ushered into the sky to rest peacefully in the stars. To do this, the city takes part in "space burials" every decade or so. This consists of launching a rocket into space to ferry the spirits. The religious leaders of this task are rare individuals known as "witches." You play a young boy named John, and your father is an important figure at a local rocket factory.
Things take a turn for the worse when a plague begins to infest almost everyone. Fast forward 25 years; Society is in ruins, the cold winter is growing colder every year, and the space burials have stopped happening. Almost everyone has died, save for now-adult John and the last witch, Fei. Bitter about everything and constantly haunted by wayward spirits, John helps Fei try and build one last rocket. They hope to help the lost souls finally pass on.
A common mistake with story-driven games is that its too much story, not enough anything else. The trend has spawned the term "Walking simulator" to describe how the player essentially only walks for the game's duration, listening to the story. Of course, this game has plenty of that sweet familiar narrative going on, but it makes a point to provide players with more to do than just walking around.
The game breaks down into 3 aspects: story, crafting and gathering. The usual routine consists of waking up at 8:00 AM and heading out to gather supplies. Here we see a top-down view of John, moving about the local area to scrounge together what he can. The main goal of the game is to gather the necessary parts to build a rocket (new fins, fuel tank, etc). The player can also gather miscellaneous crafting supplies, as well as mementos to the now passed citizens of the town.
Crafting happens in the evening after you return to your home. Here you can give the supplies to Fei so she can build the next rocket part. You also craft your own upgrades, allowing you to traverse farther into the harsh conditions of the outside world.
Lastly, you can also use your resources to restore the mementos found in town. This ranges from broken radios to ripped teddy bears. Often times a wayward spirit will ask you to do this for them, and doing so will cause them to fade away. This is entirely optional, however.
I was thankful for the freedom to gather and craft as I desired because it helped break up an otherwise mild game. The goal stayed the same for a majority of the playthrough: Find parts for the rocket. The need for a specific part drove the player to explore new locations. These locations required him to craft better gear. Rinse, lather, repeat. This, combined with the side task of repairing mementos, kept the game fresh enough for me to not get bored, but it wasn't necessarily exciting. Boy, did my mind change in the end.
This section will be talking about the final moments of the game. I will do my best to keep things free of any spoilers, so please excuse me if I'm vague.
When a game has so few characters with such a clear goal (build a rocket), it's fairly obvious how it will end. The mild build-up in the game had me prepared for an equally mild conclusion. I couldn't have been less prepared for what happened.
It was as if all at once, every aspect of the game cranked itself to 11, and it hit me hard. The music went from appropriate to outstanding while the art blended with it in a near-perfect union. But the most remarkable improvement was the writing. The story progressed in a way that not only was unexpected but also brought the seemingly dull narrative of the game into a new light, a good light. Suddenly all my efforts leading up to this point were more than justified, they became memorable. I was taken aback by how quickly things went from meh to amazing. It gave me chills.
After the credits, you see a final message from the developers.
"SIGONO is an indie game studio that strives to create unique, heartfelt experiences that bring people joy"
By this point, I was so overwhelmed emotionally, that I thought about contacting the developers myself. I wanted to tell them "thank you."
Taking about 4.5 hours to complete, there was nothing particularly wrong with OPUS: Rocket of Whispers. The mild majority made it hard to recommend at first, but the revelations of the game's climax pulled it into the extraordinary. With a surprisingly low price tag, the game is absolutely worth the time and money. If you're a fan of games like To the Moon, Gone Home, and Telltale's The Walking Dead, then I absolutely recommend playing this.
OPUS: Rocket of Whispers was developed and published by SIGONO inc on February 8, 2018. It can be found on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS with prices ranging from $3.00 to $9.00 depending on your platform.