Last year’s Freediver: Triton Down (Quest/PSVR review here) offered a short, sweet adventure with powerful immersion and a compelling mythology. Its ending left a lot of questions, some of which are answered in this follow-up podcast series.
The final instalment in the first season of extra story drops just arrived. Whereas the original game saw players navigate the cramped confines of a sinking ship after making a historic discovery, The Triton Incident, as the series is called, follows a new character called Sophia. Our new protagonist seeks to unearth the events of the original game in hopes of discovering the fate of one crew member.
Though not a direct instalment in the series, The Triton Incident does answer some major questions left by the original game. The series is about an hour long and is well worth a listen if you remain interested in the universe.
In an exclusive Q&A you can read below, developer Archiact told me: “when it comes to FREEDIVER, we very much view it as a living, breathing franchise that goes far beyond a sinking ship; there’s still so much more of it to share. It’s important for us to flex our new storytelling muscles to expand the world and characters we’ve created here, and push the franchise even further.”
Spoilers For Freediver: Triton Down And The Triton Incident Below
It also marks the return of the game’s protagonist, Ren, and explores what became of her. Voice actor Mayumi Yoshida even reprises the role. “If she hadn’t been available, then we probably wouldn’t have gone ahead with the podcast,” Archiact explained. “She was very excited to return and we were thrilled to bring her back, since she’s a very talented actress and also a really kind and fun person. We had always hoped to bring her back as we expanded the FREEDIVER story. She is the titular character, after all!”
Finally, though, all this effort poured into a sequel podcast series must mean there’s another game to come, no? “With the way Episode 4 of The Triton Incident ended, how could you not want another FREEDIVER VR game?” the developer said. “We certainly do. “
Well, there’s that. It definitely seems like we’ll see a full Freediver sequel in the future, then. For now, you can access the entire Triton Incident series on YouTube, Spotify or pretty much anything else you can listen to a podcast with. And don’t miss our full Q&A with Archiact below.
Upload: Why did you choose to expand on the story to FREEDVER in this way?
Archiact: More and more, we at Archiact are discovering that VR isn’t just another gaming or video-viewing platform: it’s a whole new medium altogether. Storytelling in VR requires different approaches and end-goals; as it turned out, that major shift in thinking ended up being a central pillar to the experience we created with FREEDIVER. We focused on physical immersion through gestural locomotion, embodiment of a deeply developed character, and ultimately pulled players into a movie-like world that literally made them struggle for breath in the real world.
So, drawing on those discoveries from VR game creation, we found ourselves in this brave new world, where we’re constantly challenging ourselves to find innovative ways to tell the stories in our heads. And when it comes to FREEDIVER, we very much view it as a living, breathing franchise that goes far beyond a sinking ship; there’s still so much more of it to share. It’s important for us to flex our new storytelling muscles to expand the world and characters we’ve created here, and push the franchise even further.
Luckily, we have a fantastic in-house team of creatives who were ready to dive back into the world of FREEDIVER with the Story Drops. We’re big fans of fiction audio dramas, so our writer, Peter Boychuk, started things off strong with The Triton Incident, a full-cast mystery in the vein of Limetown or The White Vault.
Audio is incredibly important to FREEDIVER: Triton Down—the sounds of the boat sinking help to amp up the tension in the game, and your relationship with Doctor Lindstrom plays out entirely over radio—so continuing the story as an audio drama felt appropriate. Our writer, Peter Boychuk, is also a playwright, so telling a story through conversation comes naturally to him. We felt like it was an opportunity to do something a little different and innovate. Additional content for games usually comes in the form of a short story or an animated movie; as far as we know, we’re the only company to ever produce a full fictional podcast.
There’s also the notion of cost effectiveness, which—as many other independent VR devs can probably relate—is always an important consideration. Telling an interactive story through a fully developed VR game is an incredible experience, but also significantly expensive and time-consuming. The Story Drops are coming right on the heels of our latest release, FREEDIVER: Triton Down Extended Cut, so it’s the perfect way to bridge the gap between that and our future titles—to give the
community a huge glimpse of the exciting FREEDIVER world we want to build, at a fraction of the cost, in a fraction of the development time.
Upload: What was it like having Mayumi Yoshida return to this character? Was she surprised to be back?
Archiact: In many ways, the entire podcast centres around Mayumi reprising her role. If she hadn’t been available, then we probably wouldn’t have gone ahead with the podcast. She was very excited to return and we were thrilled to bring her back, since she’s a very talented actress and also a really kind and fun person. We had always hoped to bring her back as we expanded the FREEDIVER story. She is the titular character, after all!
Also a couple fun voice-actor facts: the actress who plays Sophia, the ‘host’ of the podcast, is Tara Pratt, who provided the voice for ADELE in Evasion. We also put our staff to work voicing some of the smaller parts. Seb Bouzac, the lead game designer for FREEDIVER and the studio’s Creative Director, voices the French drug runner in episode three; our facility manager, Alex Eastman, plays Lieutenant Doyle; Simon Clay, our Director of Technology, is the BBC Announcer; and Peter Boychuk gives factoids about rogue waves in episode one.
Upload: The episode ends with more of the story to tell; are you hoping to return to FREEDIVER with another VR game?
Archiact: With the way Episode 4 of The Triton Incident ended, how could you not want another FREEDIVER VR game? We certainly do.
From its unique VR experience, to its innovative storytelling, we see so much potential in the wider world of FREEDIVER. By creating the Story Drops, releasing the Extended Cut, and growing our new Discord community, we’re committed to building the franchise into something so much more than Triton Down. It’s our hope that we can continue to build up the community, so that we can bring them even bigger and better FREEDIVER VR game content in the future.
No matter what the future holds, season one of the Story Drops has already been a hugely rewarding experience—both creatively, and to share with the community—so we’re committed to keep telling our stories in similarly innovative ways. We love the idea of our new VR titles being more than just the game, each having something like an audio drama, an art book, or something even more unique attached to it, to broaden its reach and expand the world in exciting new ways.