Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Voices of the Void
The modern-day version of a lighthouse keeper is arguably someone working in an observatory. Obviously, this is not how it probably goes in real life, but the demo for Voices of the Void has you playing the lone observatory keeper on a mountainside with dozens and dozens of massive satellite dishes scanning the cosmos for cool types of static. With only a satellite array and an uncomfortably large food delivery drone to keep you company, it may come as no surprise that your character starts to become unwell. Or is something else at play?
The journey taken in the traditional horror walking simulator is kept at pace by how much stuff you have to do. Without an array of puzzles, set pieces, and various chores to keep up with, the game would be limited by how fast the player can read and how fast you can watch events unfold. Doing chores in your game has the added benefit of requiring the player to focus on something else, effectively forcing them to be distracted while in a tumultuous situation. In this regard (and many many others), Voices of the Void is the chores-make-you-doing-er king.
The satellite array keeper in Voices of the Void is quite a polymath. Your skills range from maintaining the servers and dishes (just like a restaurant manager), isolating signals in the void, filtering and downloading said signals, using complex machinery, and riding a cool sexy ATV around the forest. All these add up to the player having to juggle ten different things while the ever-encroaching threat of something comes on the horizon, usually in the form of a Ska-looking checkerboard nightmare realm.
Non-Wanky Game Recap:
Voices of the Void is a first-person game where you walk around completing objectives. Hunger and sleep management are key for this, and thankfully you have a drone that delivers regular shipments of fresh burgers and Chinese takeout. From there you can spend the day managing the computers and maintaining the array, the former requiring a bit of practice to get the hang of.
What works with Voices of the Void, in addition to the excellent premise, narrative pacing, level of detail, interactable environment, great sound design, expansive area to explore, deep and challenging puzzles, incredible atmosphere, beautiful meteor showers, unsettling planets to discover, and terrifying moments, is that it is also really fun to drive around on an ATV.
As any child will tell you, it is not as much fun to do chores as it is to play. Perhaps it’s because I was not particularly good at figuring out the computer systems, but at some point, I was getting a little burnt out on the satellite array management. Much of the gameplay in Voices of the Void is scrambling to get objectives done before running out of stamina, which ironically, wore my real-life stamina down a bit. The level of detail is truly impressive, but for a demo, I think VotV went on a little too long.
How To Fix It:
Since this is just a demo, I think the current build of Voices of the Void should be a little shorter and easier. There was at least one point I almost gave up simply because I was tired of doing the same few objectives over and over. The most fascinating part of the game was reading the emails and listening to the planetary logs, I think those should be expanded upon while the satellite dish maintenance could be cut back a bit.
I knew Voices of the Void was going to be great when I realized that developer MrDrNose added in an extensive tutorial level in with the same atmosphere as Portal. Not too many free itch.io walking simulator games have this extreme level of detail. Voices of the Void is great because it is one of the most advanced management simulation games I have played on this website, and I am looking forward to seeing the full game come into its own.
You can download the demo for Voices of the Void on itch.io by clicking here.