Welcome to Kingdom the grandest little town in Virginia…
From the get-go, it’s apparent that Virginia is not really about a small town with a secret or even the disappearance of a young boy named Lucas Fairfax. Virginia is about relationships, trust, truth and seeing the world from the point of view of a detective.
The ten-minute demo which is currently available on Steam transitions from scene to scene without ever giving you a moment to stop and ponder what’s going on. But a lot is implied from the short demo. The developer Variable State wants you to know a detective’s day to day can be amusing, emotional, nightmarish and perilous.
Virginia has a first person point of view so you can truly experience the perspective of protagonist FBI agent Anne Tarver. The events in the demo include breaking devastating news to a family, locating clues, being flipped off by teens, experiencing nightmares and exploring the complicated dynamics of the relationship with your partner Maria Halperin. The game manages to convey all of this without a character speaking a single word.
Virginia wears its influences on its sleeve. The surreal nightmares Anne experiences are akin to the visions of True Detective’s Rust Cohle and Hannibal’s Will Graham. Your partner Maria even has a basement office that resembles Spooky Mulder’s sanctuary. Kingdom has been publicised as possessing a Twin Peaks quality, although the demo doesn’t allow you to explore much of the town. What we do know is that the town is gorgeous. Virginia’s aesthetics are vibrant and colourful, reminiscent of Jonathan Blow’s The Witness.
It’s hard to say if the final game will be as disjointed and surreal as the demo or if this was a technique used to tease us. What we do know is that Virginia is shaping up to be an exceptional experience that’s as unique as TVs best crime dramas.
The game hits Mac, PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One on Sept. 23
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane