The Ice-Bound Concordance is an award-winning indie game using combinatorial narrative technology, enhanced by a printed book unlocked through augmented reality. Inspired by the mysterious fiction of writers like Borges and books like House of Leaves, the story takes players deep into the frozen ruins of a sinking polar research base.
When a digital simulation of a long-dead author is created to complete his final masterpiece, a story of explorers trapped in at the end of the world, the player must help by exploring hundreds of permutations of his famous stories. By conversing with the troubled A.I. and rearranging his fragmented book, players decide how (and if) his book should end. A logic-driven combinatorial narrative system allows the player’s input to shape the story with far more fidelity than most story-based games.
The game works with the physical printed book “The Ice-Bound Compendium.” This full-color 80-page art book unlocks new levels and pieces of the A.I. writer’s past. Seen through the iPad camera or laptop webcam, the book’s pages come alive via augmented reality tech, with new layers of secrets inscribed onto its pages.
Ice-Bound begins with Carina Station: a remote, abandoned polar base. Under the weight of passing decades it's sunk into the ice, with each successive owner building new levels on top. Now the station is an unmapped labyrinth of history, littered with relics left by researchers and explorers stretching back in time the deeper one descends.
When the writer Kristopher Holmquist chose Carina Station as the setting for his new novel, he was struggling in obscurity, working in a tiny unheated New York apartment. After his death from a rare neurological disorder, the unfinished fragments were published on a whim... and became incredibly popular, with thousands, then millions of fans wanting to know how the story was meant to end, and what lay at the bottom, the lowest level, of the mysterious polar station.
Thirty years into the future, a clever publisher, Tethys House, commissions an artificial intelligence "simulacrum" of Kristopher Holmquist, called KRIS. Charged with finishing the now-legendary novel, KRIS wrestles with self-doubt. Is he as good as his original? What has Tethys kept from him about his life, and death? And how was the unfinished story ever meant to end?