(VENN) – Vokabulantis is a co-op adventure game driven by love and created entirely using stop-motion animation. The project is still in its development phase and is wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign, with community backers surpassing the project’s initial goal of $83,000.
On April 13, Vokabulantis creator Esben Ravn joined VENN on Instagram for a live community Q&A about the game, discussing the meaning behind the game, why the developer Kong Orange chose to use stop-motion animation and how they’ve seen a community spring up to support the game.
According to Ravn, Vokabulantis is a realm in which language has been lost and must be found.
“The story takes place in the world of language that’s in complete disarray,” said Ravn. “[The title Vokabulantis] is a little bit of a play on the idea of the lost city Atlantis, and of course language, vocabulary. To be totally frank it’s a working title that keeps surviving.”
In Vokabulantis players control Kurt and Karla, who have their language taken away right as they are about to express their true feelings for one another. Their adventure takes players through the theme of love and what it truly means to be with the most important person.
“It’s difficult to take that first step and express your emotions to somebody else, because in that split second you are on the verge of making this decision,” says Ravn. “It becomes a grand adventure that is so big you could die from it several times over and lose all goals several times and find the highest peaks and the lowest lows. And then you finally get back into that split second and hopefully your giant adventure has enabled you.”
Vokabulantis uses a philosophy of emotional mechanics to fully immerse its players into the game and make them truly feel what Kurt and Karla are feeling at any given time.
“It’s more of a dogma we put on ourselves to develop. The idea is rather than just create obstacles so characters can’t get from A to B, we want those obstacles to create a sensation in the player as you solve them,” explains Ravn. “One example we’ve been working with lately is that the two kids in the story have been separated, and then they finally after a long struggle find each other and the happiness and joy of life. Being together with the one person that you want to be with becomes such a joyful light experience you actually start levitating. And then the gameplay becomes floating games; you’re so happy you could literally fly.”
When ideating the story, stop-motion animation stood out to the Kong Orange team as the most compelling method to create the game.
“We wanted to do a narrative adventure in the world of language, and [the team] realized [we] wanted it to become tangible,” said Ravn. “It forced us to go really deep into creating some artistic solutions that could carry that mission. And a lot of people tried to talk us out of it, but from the beginning it was a stop-motion project or no project.”
While Vokabulantis is the third title from Kong Orange, following Felix the Reaper and Heartbeats – A Galactic Requiem, it is the first game from the developer to be funded on Kickstarter. Because the game is stop-motion, it was important for Ravn and the rest of his team to get the project out there, “putting [our] baby on this platform and hoping someone would bring it up with [us].”
“We had never done a Kickstarter before, so [there were] a lot of new or unexpected experiences,” says Ravn. “One of them is all of the emotional impact of having all that tangible support, and at the same time it’s having a community that really steps in and has your back and is encouraging. It’s been really great.”
Through the Kickstarter campaign, Vokabulantis has built a strong community of fans that Kong Orange hopes to grow as it goes off and develops the game. If all goes well, Vokabulantis will be available on multiple platforms in late 2024.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity