Herald: An Interactive Period Drama – Book I & II are the firs two episodes in the Herald series of episodic adventure games. The game is a mix between a point-and-click adventure game and a visual novel. The game is currently available for PC, Mac and Linux and sold through Steam, GoG and Humble Store.
This choice-driven interactive period drama takes place in history, but has a strong message concerning our modern-day social interactions.
Herald tells the story of Devan Rensburg, a man of mixed heritage who was born in the eastern colonies of a fictional colonial empire in the 19th century. Adopted and raised in the wealthy western capital of this so-called ‘Protectorate’, Devan develops an interest in finding out where he comes from, so he boards a clipper ship to book passage to his country of birth.
As Devan it is your job to keep the peace among the crew and passengers by resolving their daily squabbles. Set during a time of widespread inequality and injustice, you are challenged to uncover a great mystery that surrounds the Herald's perilous voyage.
Over the course of his three month journey Devan is cast in the middle of a multi-ethnic cross-section of Protectorate society and has to navigate his way through burgeoning tensions between ethnicities, classes and genders that will not only determine the fate of the ship, but also that of the empire itself.
By making difficult moral choices that alter the course of the storyline, Herald sets out to make players feel the sting of oppression and the weight of living in a society divided by race, class and culture.
Wispfire worked on Herald with a great interest and admiration for culture and history. But aside from an innate interest in these topics, a sense of disbelief and anger about past and unfortunately also current events, have shaped much of Herald’s story.
When history is taught in schools here in the Netherlands, a great deal of attention is given to the massive amounts of wealth that the Dutch East India Company has brought the country during the Golden Age. The horrors of slavery during the same time is not a topic entirely brushed over, but what is hardly mentioned at all, are the long lasting effects of stripping people of their independence and sovereignty during the age of colonialism. Yet this has had arguably the most far-reaching consequence on people today. The founders of Wispfire believe there is too little discussion about these moral struggles that formed society as we know it today. Current affairs surrounding mass immigration and racial tensions prove that the problems addressed in Herald are still as relevant as ever.
Western cultures have become less and less homogeneous. Many people see this diversity as an enrichment, but others are afraid of losing their own cultural identity in the face of multiculturalism. Fascinated by the identity crisis of the modern man, Wispfire wants to tell a story about the relationship between heritage and social status. From the vantage point of the world during the 19th century, Wispfire tries to confront people with the way we currently handle cultural and racial differences.
Every choice Devan makes in his dialogues with his captor and the various characters on board the ship is an opportunity for the player to shape the unfolding narrative. Herald questions the player on the complex social issues that underline our society by showing the parallels our world has with the world of Herald. Its main goal is to give an honest answer to the question:
What influence does cultural identity have on an individual’s social status?