Ken Levine shares details about Judas and the concept of “narrative LEGO”

Ken Levine, creator of the BioShock series and founder of Ghost Story Games, the studio behind Judas, has finally revealed the first details about the game and explained the concept of “narrative LEGO” in an interview with IGN.

Judas, announced at The Game Awards 2022, is a first-person story-driven shooter in which players take on the role of a girl named Judah on the disintegrating spaceship Mayflower. The only chance to survive is to make alliances with your worst enemies. It is in these alliances and relationships that the concept of “narrative LEGO” will be used.

Judas will essentially be a pseudo-procedurally generated roguelike in a world where every decision the player makes will affect their relationships with other characters and the construction of the world around them.

Explaining how it all works, Levine said that the developers created small elements for each level, such as character replicas, artwork, textures, encounters, loot, which are all modular parts. The player can use them to teach the game how to create good levels. And these levels will change every time.

“We call it pseudo-procedural because it’s not like Minecraft where everything’s being generated off a set of pure mathematical heuristics. You build all these smaller piece elements in the game and then you teach the game how to make good levels essentially, and good story, and most importantly, reactive to what you do,” Levine said.

Answering the question about the main character, Levine said that unlike BioShock games, where players were thrown into an unfamiliar world, in Judas you are already a part of this world.

Speaking about her, Levine said that Judah is the reason why the spaceship breaks up, but did not go into details, saying that it will be part of the experience for players to understand why these events happened and why she is called Judah.

In addition to Judah, the other main characters will be the “big three”: Sheriff Tom, biologist Nefertiti, and their daughter Hope. Depending on who the player decides to help, the reaction of the other characters will be somewhat bad and this may have consequences in the further passage. At the same time, this will also provide an opportunity for a variety of experiences from the story.

Despite his best efforts, Judas will not be able to stay on good terms with all three and will have to choose a side. This can lead to the other two sabotaging the game, betraying Judas to enemies, or causing other problems for the protagonist.

“Learning about them, building friendships and imagine being stuck in this situation in a lifeboat with your worst enemy and having to learn maybe the things you thought about them, the assumptions you made about them weren’t entirely true. Maybe you get to learn about what they had to go through, their challenges in life and how they became such a thorn in your side and you became a thorn in their side. And it’s really a journey of discovery. But you’re not going to have that relationship with all three of them in a single playthrough,” said the developer.

Encounters with these characters can take place anywhere, as they are holograms and do not have a physical body, which adds to the non-linearity of the game. They won’t appear in cutscenes, and a conversation with them can start wherever the player decides to go. Even several of these characters can appear at the same time and start arguing with each other.

Ken Levine also said that because the game is non-linear, it requires a lot of time and resources for testing, so the release date is still unknown. However, it was previously reported that Judas should be released by March 2025.