First Impressions – Mistborn: Birthright
Little Orbit announced today that work will begin on adapting Brandon Sanderson’s best-selling fantasy series Mistborn as a video game. The upcoming game, titled Mistborn: Birthright, will attempt to translate the world of the Final Empire to modern consoles and PC for the first time.
The Mistborn books take place in a world in which a small percentage of the population have the ability to burn ingested flakes of metal in exchange for certain specific powers, an ability called Allomancy. Burning different metals give different Allomantic abilities, such as the ability to push or pull on metals, affect emotions, increase your physical strength and endurance, among others. People who have been born with the ability to burn every Allomantic metal are called Mistborn, giving name to the series.
Allomancy allows for extremely powerful abilities, but all of those abilities are tempered by the need for fuel, familiarity by the user with each aspect of the power, and enemies’ preparedness for dealing with a Mistborn. The world’s built-in checks and balances and extrapolated social and technological development seem to be custom-built for a video game adaptation. For instance, with the ability for a few people to push and pull on metal, the development of swords as an affectation of nobility have been scrubbed. Jewelry is often made of painted wood rather than precious metal. The Lord Ruler, the powerful, immortal ruler of the Empire, employs Inquisitors, enhanced Mistborn with steel spikes driven through their eyes, as secret police forces to stamp down on frequent rebellions and to keep tabs on the Empire’s Mistborns.
Birthright will be set several hundred years before the events of the novels, and will play the role of Fendin Fathvell, a nobleman who has just discovered his Allomantic abilities. The game will be penned by Sanderson himself, an avid gamer and the scriptwriter for Infinity Blade II and its accompanying novella, and should prove to bring in some deep storytelling and characterization. No news on whether the Koloss will be around, or if Feruchemy or Hemalurgy will feature prominently in the plot, but chances are there will be stray mentions, at the very least.
Though I don’t wish to temper my excitement, there are some hefty problems to surmount. Considering a Mistborn can inherently and, after sufficient practice, almost thoughtlessly manipulate their eight core Allomantic abilities, controls will be an issue. The books describe Steelpushing (burning ingested flakes of steel to give the ability to push against metal objects) yourself into the air and finely controlling yourself once airborne by pushing against specific objects. Trying to imagine exactly how this will be possible (without even considering the other abilities, such as anchoring yourself to give more power to a pushed object, or keeping yourself airborne while simultaneously pushing and pulling on objects as projectiles) without basing the game on a turn-based system that’ll make a chess match look exciting is a slight concern.
Any problems with the control scheme are well in the future, however. With Sanderson writing and a team of talented and excited developers, the game should be something to look out for.
Mistborn: Birthright is slated to release in the fall of 2013, giving plenty of time for gamers and fans to salivate. Stay tuned right here at Wanderson75 for more details as they become available.
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