Stop-motion is one of the most-difficult and tedious art forms there is, requiring animators to take thousands upon thousands of pictures as they pose and barely move figures and set-pieces in order create a film. But Wiredfly and Kong Orange decided to make things even harder with Vokabulantis, a cooperative platformer that uses traditional stop-motion animation to create something stunning.
Currently approaching the end of a Kickstarter campaign that is nearing its $82,323 goal, Vokabulantis is a puzzle-platformer that can be played either cooperatively or on your own, and the world is inspired by language–hence the title. The estimated launch date isn’t until October 2024, with Steam as a confirmed platform and others also targeted.
The two kids at the center of the story want to express their love for each other, but without mouths, they must find another way. Through the game design, the development team wants you to feel what they feel, rather than telling you.
The characters and many of the objects in Vokabulantis are real, physical props that were 3D scanned and placed into the game, and they were shot like a film studio such as Laika would shoot a stop-animated film. In fact, some of the animation team has worked on Laika films.
For something like pulling a cart or climbing up a rope, however, the animators essentially mimed the action on the character via wire harnesses so the objects could be interacted with later. Given the interactivity of a game, doing it any other way would seemingly be impossible.
The results are quite impressive, especially when considering that the same shots had to be done multiple times with different lighting effects. This also allowed for gameplay that flows seamlessly with cutscenes, as there didn’t need to be a difference between the rendered cinematics and the game engine when the characters were physical objects.
One person who seems to be a big fan of the game so far is Elijah Wood, who showed his support on Twitter. He was joined by Warcraft and Moon director Duncan Jones. Vokabulantis isn’t the only stop-motion video game in the works, either, with Harold Halibut also in development for the last several years. Initially planned to launch in 2019, the team is still actively posting updates on the game’s Twitter page.