Image: Vintage Digital Revival
More than 100 years ago, the Titanic left England for New York City. More than 2,000 passengers and crew wandered its massive decks and took in luxuries like its baroque recreation of a Parisian bakery. Then it hit an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the ocean.
Video game studio Vintage Digital Revival wants to dredge the Titanic digitally and let players walk through an accurate recreation of its voyage, put together with almost as much lavish attention to detail as the original ship.
Tom Lynskey, Creative Director of Vintage Digital Revival, and his team are behindTitanic: Honor & Glory, an upcoming video game where players solve a mystery aboard a historically accurate recreation of the doomed steamer in virtual reality. The team has already released an impressive demo.
The demo follows a fictional ship inspector wandering the Titanic ahead of its maiden voyage. It’s a proof of concept—not much more than a tour of the finished portions of the virtual ship with some running commentary from the player character—and it’s stuffed with historical facts that pop up as players wander the halls of the luxury liner.
Even at the demo stage, the Titanic is painstakingly recreated in the game. Nameplates shine above crew doors, silverware rests on fussily prepared tables in a recreation of a French cafe (staffed mostly by Italians, the game informed me as I wandered through).
This photorealistic recreation of the Titanic is the game’s main draw, but Lynskey said that narrative and gameplay are important for keeping people engaged
“The story is also a way to force the player to do certain things,” Lynskey said. “Now you have to go to this part of the ship, etcetera. It’s our way of driving the player through the actual historical timeline of the Titanic voyage.” Players will control a fictional passenger attempting to solve a murder mystery aboard the doomed vessel in a story that will take them through the ship.
Vintage Digital Revival is recreating the Titanic’s passengers along with the ship. Players won’t just explore the massive vessel, they’ll also talk to several key historical figures, including captain E.J. Smith and Violet Jessop—a nurse who also survived the sinking of the Britannica in 1916. According to Lynskey, the final game will include about 200 of the ship’s 2,200 passengers.
To recreate the Titanic, Lynskey and his team are working with historians and the descendants of survivors to ensure accuracy. More than just a curio, Lynskey would like the game to eventually be used in schools as an educational tool. “It's the perfect way of tricking [kids] into learning,” he said.
Titanic: Honor & Glory will hit the PC and, of course, virtual reality. “VR is the ultimate way to immerse yourself in something,” Lynskey said “We wanted people to be able to stand on the deck or go to a different cabin and feel what it was like to actually walk through the corridors and then experience the voyage.”
After Titanic: Honor & Glory, Lynskey said he wants Vintage Digital Revival to recreate other historical periods including both World Wars. But for now, he and his team remain obsessed with the Titanic. “It was this beautiful, pristine, brand new ship was the peak of technology—the peak of humanity's accomplishment,” he said.