Climb was a game I worked on a few years ago that ended up getting shelved before anything substantial came of it. We were influenced by the trailer for the game Death Stranding, which captivated our imaginations but didn’t provide any details about the gameplay or story; Climb grew out of this mystery. Before the story gets lost to time I wanted to share my favorite aspects of it.
The story is set in a post apocalyptic Manhattan one hundred years after humanity fought the ZombAI virus. Sea levels have risen a hundred feet turning skyscrapers into islands. The towers are ruled by rival clans where each building supports thousands of people with the aid of a mysterious power source located deep below the ocean’s surface, a relic of the previous civilization.
A young woman washes ashore wearing a strange scaly suit that we later learn is the key to accessing all of the previous civilizations knowledge. In order to survive she must determine what knowledge to share and with whom.
The story follows a young woman (later named Sophia) who washed up on an island wearing only a tight fitting, scaly black suit that was fused to her body. She had no recollection of who she was or where she came from. Her immediate focus was survival, she was cold and seriously dehydrated. She didn’t feel safe, she didn’t know these people, she did not look like them, and revealing her strange black suit could be dangerous. To start she would need to cover her skin quickly, and then quench her terrible thirst.
Introduction to the World
Looking for something to cover herself Sophia could see the structure she had washed up on was huge, each floor was crammed with ramshackle shelters constructed from the old worlds artifacts. From their homes hundreds of feet above people were pulling up buckets of water. On the horizon she could see fishing boats heading out to sea. A woman holding her child had stopped and was staring at her.
A Dangerous Place
Sophia made her way cautiously toward laundry hanging outside a nearby window. While reaching for a blanket a man twice her size threw both his arms around her and held her tightly so she couldn’t breathe. She struggled to escape his grip but was met with a powerful blow to her head. She dropped to her knees and he was on top of her. He was trying to pull off her black suit, she screamed in pain. Unable to pull off her suit the man looked confused, and in that brief moment she brought a stone against his temple. He fell over and within a second she was on top of him to give two quick strikes to his head. She stood up, grabbed two blankets, threw them around her and made her way up to the first level of the building and tried to blend in.
Tower Island City
Sophia quickly discovered that there were actually hundreds of buildings like the one she was on each overflowing with people. The towers were crowded, dirty and violent. It was not a place hospitable to women. She learned that energy came from a source deep below the water’s surface and was used to power the old worlds elevators, appliances and machines. Scavenging, and maintaining machines were the most lucrative occupations. Those that controlled the energy ruled the towers.
Sophia learned that each Tower Island was controlled by a gang that had developed its own unique culture. The Americans wore artifacts from the former civilization and were the most hostile to strangers. The Skulls painted their faces a ghostly white and practiced the ancient religion of Voodoo. On Tank island there were only warriors and slaves, they acquired their goods through conquest, not innovation. Passage into a tower was strictly controlled by the islands boss who was also responsible for allocating energy to the building residents. The towers were in a constant state of conflict with the tower lords looking to keep their warriors satisfied with the loot of conquest.
The Mutant War
The people of the island told Sophia stories of the old world, of a great battle that was waged against mutants and that humanity was ultimately victorious. Though the war had decimated their cities and this led to the collapse of their civilization that once spanned as far as the eyes could see. In addition there were tales of monsters that swam the oceans making dives beneath the towers dangerous, though Sophia suspected these were meant to scare the islanders from exploring the old world.
Consequences for Capture
Eventually Sophia was captured by a slaver who forced her to work in his algae farm on the lower levels. She caught the attention of a brothel owner who paid a premium to take possession of her. Her black scaly suit was discovered by the harem mother who attempted to remove it unsuccessfully. Sophia was brought to the tower boss who questioned her and demanded to know the location of the other mutants. Unsatisfied with her answers he sent her to be tortured and then executed.
The Power of Knowledge
Sophia was freed from the tower boss by a stealthy trio of fighters who managed to take down five heavily armed soldiers without attracting any attention. They brought her to their home under the water’s surface. These people were scavengers who avoided the surface except to acquire fresh water and food which was hard to come by in the underworld. She learned that her suit was powerful, that it was the key to accessing all the previous civilizations knowledge at the height of its power. Though she could only connect to it deep within the basement of the building. The scavengers community was much more advanced and civilized than those that she had seen above ground. To the scavengers Sophia represented humanity’s greatest opportunity to rise out of the dark ages.
This is the setup for the story, in the first act the protagonist learns that she has incredible power. She is alone in a strange and dangerous place. She has the gift of knowledge to give to this society though it is not evident that they desire what she has to offer as much as they disdain who she is, a mutant. Since her arrival she was forced into slavery, sold as a sex slave and tortured by the tower king. The scavengers rescued her but can she trust them? Will they abuse her power? She could attempt to leave, but where would she go, there are no other signs of civilization?
We originally imagined this story as a strategy/adventure game where players had access to all the potential knowledge on a technology tree. Their challenge was to choose what information to give and to whom. At this time I’m not going to go into too much detail on the game, but I can in a future post. So let us know if this is something you’d be interested in seeing in the future. And feel free to reach out with any constructive criticism. Our contact information is below.