Gamecock's upcoming Velvet Assassin, in development by Replay Studios, has an intriguing premise - the protagonist, Violette Summer, is based on the actual life of British secret agent Violette Szabo during World War II. In the game, Violette is a secret agent on her own behind enemy lines. It's slated for a Fall release on Xbox 360 and PC.
A war story influenced by real-world events that prioritizes stealth action? Sounds like a certain other title that I can't take my eyes and hands off of lately, so I was eager to get a look at Velvet Assassin today.
Violette's story is told through flashbacks and memories - in the opening of the game, she's in a hospital, remembering back on her career, and in the scene I saw, Violette was sneaking through the sewers and up into a Warsaw ghetto under patrol by Nazi soldiers. The PR rep told me that the team is prioritizing authenticity in creating the WWII environment, with the aim of recreating the grittiness of that war's horrors.
For example, a man would be seen hanged in the sewers, as the Nazis actually did back then to try to warn people off attempting to escape through there. During my demo, I watched soldiers taking turns shooting at the walls of buildings, as they often did to try and kill or scare out anyone who might be hiding.
If Violette keeps to the shadows, a purple aura covers her, letting the player know she can't be seen by enemies in the light. The shadows are sharp-edged, and the contrast between them and the sunbathed, forbidding landscape was very eerie, exactly the sort of spooky atmosphere you'd expect from a story about what goes on behind enemy lines in WWII.
I was told there are over 50 different kinds of stealth kills in the game that Violette can perform when she sneaks up behind an enemy quietly - I watched her seize a soldier around the neck and stab him in the back before he could alert his compatriots. Though I was watching a very early build, the rep told me that in the final game, players will be able to drag enemy bodies out of sight to keep the Nazis from catching on, similar to the way it's done in Metal Gear.
Also, Violette can enter "Morphine mode" in an emergency. The painkiller ties into the fact that we're playing through Violet's memories while she's hospitalized, and if you use morphine, you can kill a target in range quickly and directly - for example, if a soldier sees you, you can run right up and kill him, the screen a white, violet-blotted haze, before he has the opportunity to alert his mates.
Throughout the gameplay, Violette narrates her story, woven together with factual information about the progression of the WWII story. She has a lovely English accent, and the voice acting in conjunction with the imagery was lovely.
While it was too early for hands-on with this game, and some of the features, like the body-dragging, haven't been implemented yet, I definitely saw enough to pique my interest and let me know that this stealth war drama, featuring what looks to be a strong, compelling female protagonist, is worth keeping an ear attuned to.