Game News I Robbed The Russian Mafia And Met Baba Yaga On This French Road Trip
Today, I decided to take the road to Russia with Firebird, a narrative road trip written by FibreTigre, a French specialist in interactive fiction.
It’s hard to know if the long periods of confinement that began in 2020 have something to do with it, but for some time now I’ve noticed a flowering of “road trip” games, those that take you on an adventure on often unknown roads. . Surely to invite us to easy epics outside our four walls. I’m thinking of Road 96 by the French from DixArt, which put us in the shoes of a fugitive, of Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, more atypical with its urban legends; then later there will be the very gentle family road trip Open Roads, the post-apocalyptic Dustborn one, much more brutal, and finally Firebird, which invites us to discover Russian folklore. The same theme can make us twirl around in very different universes and I always find that quite fantastic. And then, long road trips often create a somewhat magical timeless atmosphere. So when the Firebird demo was made available on the Steam platform, I rushed to launch it.
This is a new indie column on JV:
A few weeks ago, we released Wanted, your new column about quirky and fun indie games. In another register, this one is dedicated to the narrative games that we are keen to make you discover, in a slightly more personal register, like a ticket and with some video extracts.
Mariska and the mafia
At first glance, Firebird looks like an unpretentious narrative game. It is developed on Ludogramme’s general public text editor. Very delicate hand-made illustrations scroll soberly and quickly remind me of the comic strips of my childhood. There is no dubbing on the program. The music is discreet, but lets out pretty sounds of string instruments, a bit mystical. I read that the road trip would last for one evening; short narrative experiences always seem very beautiful to me when they know how to get rid of unnecessary lengths. I meet Mariska, a young trucker who seems quite nice to me, but who seems bogged down in not-so-great deals with the Russian mafia.. The narration is promising, the game speaks to you like a book in which you are the hero. The author is surely there for something, it is about FibreTigre, confirmed creator of role-playing games. So naturally, I expect a lot from writing. So I embody this Mariska, to whom her old colleague Ivan passes on an almost mute unknown kid he found by the side of the road.
The unnamed girl doesn’t have a penny in her pocket, but says she wants to bring some food back to her little village in the far north of Russia. If Mariska brings him back there, she could leave with bear and white tiger skins. A completely illegal traffic, but which could help him to pay a big debt towards Tourguine, the great local mafioso who distributes contracts on the fly. Several issues are thus posed from the outset and I can’t wait to know how they will unfold in a little over an hour. If the texts scroll first in the manner of a visual novel, a possibly fateful first choice is offered to us, players. And this is where my interest really awakes: Turguin instructs Mariska to entrust his henchman Dimitri with a sealed envelope which he forbids her to open. In exchange for this service, he will tell him the location of the truck driven by his colleague Ivan, filled with slews of food that he must drive to the army. And this food, maybe we could bring it back to the girl’s village. But Ivan is still a good friend. And I also really want to know what’s in the envelope. Do you see the dilemma?
A journey for several paths
Curiosity prevails: I invite Mariska to discreetly open the envelope out of sight. Unsurprisingly, it is filled with tickets. Out of fear, I told him to leave the bundle warm for fear of reprisals and to entrust everything to Dimitri. Obviously, he notices that the package is no longer sealed. The blow was still completely stupid. Neither one nor two, Tourguine is warned and confiscates Mariska’s truck since everything is allowed to him. Here she is without resources and in a hell of a mess. And then the demo stops. I only played fifteen minutes, so inevitably, having accomplished nothing, I remain a little unsatisfied. But I decide to start a new game; this time, Mariska opens the envelope and keeps the tickets to buy mountains of food. And there, the crazy adventure begins.
Mariska drives like a whirlwind with a gold mine stashed in the trunk. This is all the more promising for the achievement of our objectives. She arrives at customs. Might as well play the role of the fugitive who has something to be ashamed of herself, she rushes, breaks the barrier and continues on her way to better get ahead of the mafia who are probably already on her heels. I notice then that the truck loses a little of its solidity. In addition to the gasoline and the money that Mariska keeps, there are therefore three parameters that I have to manage through choices. This is what slightly complicates the interactions. Two destinations are offered: a bridge or a wooden hut. The second seems to me the most interesting if not the safest. I click and there, Baba Yaga appears on the screen. Yes, Baba Yaga the old witch, a recurring character in Slavic legends, is waiting for me, stirring her cauldron. No idea what she’s doing around here, but the story takes an explosive turn. For the moment, I would obviously not know more, the demo having ended on his dented face. But I hope to make other choices that will lead to equally unexpected paths. So far, Firebird looks pretty promising to me.
Lovers of short narrative experiences, hand-drawn illustrations and Russian folklore, Firebird is likely to please you. This 100% French game will be available in 2022 on the Steam platform.
- Download Firebird Demo