Francis Ford Coppola, master filmmaker behind some of the most influential films of all time wants to turn one of his most acclaimed and popular films into a horror role-playing video game. Under a new project led by the director’s American Zoetrope banner, the RPG version of Apocalypse Now aims to blend a cinematic narrative with role-playing game mechanics. Players will take on the role of Captain Willard, on a secret mission to assassinate the renegade Colonel Kurtz.
The game is described by American Zoetrope as a “psychological horror” that will accurately capture the tone, themes, and characters of the film, The campaign comes complete with tiered rewards that include everything from a copy of the completed game, to Vietnam collectibles, military jackets, and an actual prop from the Apocalypse Now set. A 2020 release is planned, with early access to backers in 2019 to coincide with the film’s 40th anniversary.
The company is aiming to raise $900,000 to fund the game development, with a February 24th deadline to reach the goal, and much of the filmmaker, studio and developer’s intentions are laid on on their Kickstarter page, as per their official statement:
“Throughout the course of the game, players will have the ability to make their own decisions independent of the original narrative… As players navigate the unspeakable horrors of the Vietnam War, their reactions to each situation will result in consequences that will alter their journey as the story unfolds. Every decision matters, and each player will tell their own story.”
The game opens in Saigon with Willard holed up in a dingy hotel, just like the beginning of the movie, but this time with the functionality that only a video game could provide: “Audio and visual distortion evoke Willard’s emotions and past experiences. The game provides you subjective access to a character who is already nearly insane.”
Coppola’s studio is developing the game with Rob Auten, the lead writer on game franchises Gears of War, Battlefield and Far Cry; Lawrence Liberty, producer and director of Fallout: New Vegas, The Witcher and DC Universe Online, among others; Josh Sawyer, designer on Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity; and Montgomery Markland, lead producer on Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera. You can’t say Coppola and American Zoetrope haven’t done their best to assemble a group of people who clearly know how to make a game.
In a statement, Coppola spoke about his intentions for the possible video game:
“Forty years ago, I set out to make a personal art picture that could hopefully influence generations of viewers for years to come…Today, I’m joined by new daredevils, a team who want to make an interactive version of Apocalypse Now, where you are Captain Benjamin Willard amidst the harsh backdrop of the Vietnam War. I’ve been watching video games grow into a meaningful way to tell stories, and I’m excited to explore the possibilities for Apocalypse Now for a new platform and a new generation.”
Coppola’s allegorical war epic has influenced a roster of games already from Far Cry 3‘s jungle setting (and helicopter assault set to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”) to the more direct influences in Call of Duty: Black Ops. Even the recent example of German company Yager Development and 2K Games’ Spec Ops: The Line from 2012 substituting the encroaching jungles of Vietnam with dangerous sandstorms; a game that commented on the War on Terror and American interventionism in place of Cold War politics. The game even took its narrative structure from Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness, the source material Coppola used when he and co-writer John Milius devised of Apocalypse Now so many years ago.
The bottom line is: Why make Apocalypse Now into a video game? It certainly isn’t a film that screams game adaptation and with the market so saturated with War games in the first place could a title such as this stand-out? One of the reasons they are using Kickstarter to help fund the game is to keep it independent out of fear that a major studio would insist that it be a First-Person Shooter instead of the RPG horror-survival style Coppola and co. really want. Given that this is a director who has remained independent over the course of four decades lends a sigh of relief that at leas this game won’t be another carbon copy of Call Of Duty.
You can argue that Coppola may not have the chops to create a video game, but that’s why he has the resources to hire those that do, and if there is anything Coppola does know, its story, immersion, world building and being an independent artist. Much needed in many areas of entertainment right now.
Images: American Zoetrope, Kickstarter