Saviano’s Gomorrah becomes a video game developed in Italy

Turin-based studio 4BigThings, in collaboration with Sandbox and Fandango, has created a visual novel with an original storyline and a strong dramatic narrative

“We place in the hands of the player the fate, ethics and travails of a hunted protagonist, the last vestige of a disappearing clan. Legitimate heir to the Port of Naples, Nina is animated mainly by two feelings, survival and revenge’. Speaking is Mattia Bernatti, Game Designer who oversaw the project developed by the Turin-based studio 34BigThings, author of the futuristic racing series Redout, in collaboration with Sandbox and Fandango.

Gomorra, the video game, is an all-Italian product, a visual novel with a strong dramatic narrative structure, Mattia explains: “The aspect of the game that we feel is the strongest point is decision-making, the decisions that players are asked to make, a crucial element for the success of a narrative title with this style. We hope that players feel that there is nothing good they can do in certain situations. That’s the goal, that’s how the mafia works. We wanted to work on a story about the struggle of someone who was born into a mafia-connected environment, which is difficult to escape, so most of the choices you find in the game have real and harsh consequences’.

The Gomorra video game is not based on the book or the TV series, but is inspired by the world depicted by Roberto Saviano in his work, Mattia tells us: “You don’t need to have seen the film or read the book before, but playing the game will make you want to, and vice versa. You may or may not like Saviano’s book from which our game is inspired, but it succeeds in recreating a Naples that is as naked as it is real in the minds of millions of readers around the world. This kind of language, almost universal, represents the foundation from which we started to build our research, both narrative and aesthetic’.

The title of 34BigThings tackles very sensitive issues, especially for us Italians, and does so using video game language, which could represent a further critical issue, Mattia explains: ‘We are confident about the seriousness we want to convey with this product, which was created with a clear objective in mind. We want to tell a story about the difficulties of being born in a mafia-related context, from which it is difficult to escape. So the various decisions in the game are always tough and with real consequences. We are trying to express the need to tell a story and raise awareness about a situation that is very complex in Italy’. He continues: ‘The medium we have chosen has a positive characteristic, interactivity, which can convey the feelings we want the user to experience. The player chooses directly and lives his choices in an active way, a very powerful tool to convey strong emotions”.

As the main protagonist, the studio chose a female character, Nina Miniero, a strong choice to tell a Camorra story. “Nina seemed to us an excellent subject as she provides the opportunity to experience the dramatic situations we propose from a singular point of view, that of the spoilt daughter of a Boss. There will be moments in the story where we will also show Nina from another aspect, that of a young girl like many others. An element that enhances the player’s attachment to the character and consequently to the entire gaming experience.

In the narrative of Gomorrah, the various characters have been linked to the protagonist since her childhood, have seen her grow up or have grown up together, Mattia explains: “These bonds will be explored throughout the game’s story and their relationship is a key element in the resolution of the entire narrative arc. We are also proud of the replayability we offer with eight different endings”.

Mattia continues: “The choices made by the player will lead to one of the eight endings, but you will also encounter choices that are less relevant to the course of the story but important for the evolution of the sense of ethics we create in the players”.

The project of 34BigThings was created to generate a high emotional involvement on the part of those who enjoy it, and it is necessary to take the responsibility of dealing with the theme and the context with due ethical care, Mattia explains: “The choice of a veiled cartoony tone is what can make a tense, violent and very black entertainment experience easily digestible by a wider audience. We are trying to reach as many people as possible with a story that needs to be told as much as understood and feared. The intersection with the world of comics was able to respond coherently and comprehensively to the needs of Gomorrah, and Luca Negri’s hands did a job that was definitely up to the mark’.

In the criminal universe of Gomorra, especially if we think of the TV series, the soundtrack plays a very important role, transporting this evocative element into a videogame can be difficult, Mattia tells us: “Since the title was also created for mobile devices, the theme music was a difficult process in the development phase because we wanted every player to be able to appreciate it in the same way, regardless of the device used. Gomorrah’s music helps to channel emotions in the player depending on the phase of the game, accompanying and never disturbing the reading”.

The Gomorra video game is available for PC, via Steam, mobile devices, iOS (App Store) and Android (Google Play)at a cost of 2.99 euro. The title is multilingual and has Italian localisation.