Arthur C Clarke’s third law of prediction states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. It could be argued that videogames fit that description, but how many are truly magical? Experiences that imprint on your mind, that have to be shared with friends, that take your breath away, come along every few years.
AionGuard is built with magical technology. More importantly, it looks like it might just be magical.
“It’s been going for about two years now,” begins Christofer Sundberg, co-founder and creative director of Avalanche, “and we were initially doing it with a publisher as a huge war game, the epic scale of World War One, but then that didn’t really fit the publisher so it kind of mutated into a sci-fi game. Then that went head-to-head with another game in the publisher’s stable and became a fantasy game… It’s a long story.
“After that, we bought the rights back. There are obviously financial reasons why we will need a publisher, but while we are flexible enough to adapt we also need the game to keep its identity – it’s a very long-term project for us.”
AionGuard is an open-world fantasy, a game of dizzying heights, fantastic beasts and, above all else, magic. If its archetypes are recognisable, they’re also arresting. “Many of us old-timers came from a pen-and-paper roleplaying background before computer games,” begins Odd Ahlgren, the game’s narrative director.
“We’ve had it with this standardisation of fantasy – it’s not exciting any more, it’s deteriorated into trivial re-hashings of the same old things.” But ‘fantasy’ doesn’t tell the whole story of AionGuard. This world is a melting-pot of science-fiction, steampunk, technology, fascism, mystery and games from the excellent Panzer Dragoon Orta to the failed experiment of Lair. If this is fantasy, it’s a gloriously broad strata.