When making a science fiction world, one of the first decisions that storytellers have to make is what kind of technology they’ll put at their characters’ disposal.
Should a sci-fi world feature lasers? Spaceships? Time travel? Cloning? Robotic limbs?
These kinds of seemingly arbitrary choices can help shape story and setting alike.
We recently detailed some of the exciting science fiction games that use their settings to explore what it means to be human, but the specific technology on display within a science fiction game like Loading Human can also inform the narrative, as well as explore a more nuanced analysis of the human condition.
The technology in Loading Human draws inspiration from the myths and legends of Earth, applying them to an interstellar experience as a metaphor for the struggles that we face every day as human beings.
In the game, the player’s character, Prometheus, is called to the bed of his aging father, Dorian. In this game’s setting, it’s possible—in large part because of Dorian’s own inventions—to extend life beyond the point that the body can comfortably function.
Loading Human features a plethora of miraculous life-lengthening technology.
Dorian is confined to The Lazarus, a device named after a man that Jesus Christ is said to have raised from the dead. This has long been taken as a symbol of overcoming mortality in science fiction, and pretty much every sci-fi story from Mass Effect to Doctor Who makes reference to Lazarus when discussing the possibility of overcoming death.
With the advancing years, though, Dorian’s Lazarus can no longer sustain him. He seeks divine intervention in the form of the Quintessence, a mythical substance that can reverse the aging process.
The Lazarus keeps Dorian alive—but at what cost?
It’s no accident that The Lazarus is shaped like a coffin. With Dorian’s dogged pursuit of immortality, he has confined himself to a metal prison, hidden away from the joy and excitement of a full life.
Loading Human explores the concept of living forever—and whether the cost of achieving immortality is too high if it means sacrificing both the quality of your life and the happiness of those around you.
While we all might think we’d like a biblical Lazarus experience to keep us healthy and alive for as long as possible, perhaps immortality isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.
What exists out beyond the stars, far beyond the reach of ordinary humans?
There’s something mysterious and awe-inspiring about the cosmos, and the many billions of stars that stretch out across the universe.
In many cases, the infinite possibilities that await among the stars are used within science fiction stories to create myths and legends which parallel the tall tales of explorers from days before the Earth was fully mapped.
It’s not without reason that Star Trek refers to space as “The Final Frontier”—there are plenty of travelogue tales that take place in the wide, black ocean of outer space. Just as Greek epics saw heroes traveling into unknown waters and encountering mythical beasts, science fiction can use the unknown vastness of the galaxy to create all kinds of exciting storytelling possibilities.
What mysteries await us among the stars?
Central to Loading Human’s exploration of the myths surrounding the unknown is the idea that the stars hold miracles yet unseen. In the game, Prometheus’s quest to find the Quintessence for his father isn’t entirely unlike the quest for the Fountain of Youth or the search for the Holy Grail. All three feature eager explorers traveling into the darkness, chasing desperately after hopes and rumors.
But in a story setting where space travel is not instantaneous and the galaxy has yet to be fully mapped, Loading Human plays with the question of whether the possibility of a miracle cure even matters. Throughout the game, Prometheus is torn between embarking on a long space mission that will take a large toll on him and staying safe at home with his romantic partner.
Are the mysteries of the universe more important than the people we care about?
All of this leads to the question of whether chasing the unknown is more important than spending time with loved ones. What matters more: glory and discovery, or quiet nights spent connecting with the people we love?
This is a very human question, and the way players respond to this technological challenge will likely say a lot about their own relationship with the people around them.
Life in Loading Human is nothing if not luxurious. Your player character lives in a gorgeous, state-of-the-art apartment, which comes with all the modern conveniences you’d expect from a science fiction game—including your own personal AI assistant.
There’s still room for hardwood flooring, even in the distant future.
Lucy, Dorian’s AI research assistant, is a key character in Loading Human. Despite the magic the technology of the future can perform, Dorian chose to give Lucy a robotic voice because he’s old-fashioned and wants things to sound exactly the way they are. In spite of this, Lucy still proves to be capable of being affectionate and humorous. This twist gives a character that, at first glance, appears to be nothing more than a computer aid, the depth and spark of humanity.
There have been plenty of science fiction stories that explore the question of whether artificial intelligence can measure up to organic life. In cinema, Bishop from Aliens and Rachel from Blade Runner both pose the question: does simulated life have a value, and how does it measure up when compared with authentic humanity?
In gaming, the Mass Effect series also explores this concept, as Commander Shepard fights waves of evil synthetic monsters while befriending several friendly robots that just want to be accepted by society. Legion shows that even a computer mainframe can be caring, while the romance between your pilot, Joker, and the ship’s onboard computer, EDI, explores the possibility that humanity can accept synthetic life as equal to our own.
Mass Effect’s Joker and EDI show that the possibility of acceptance and friendship between humans and robots.
In Loading Human, the question of the value of organic versus synthetic life is brought up in subtler ways. You won’t be fighting armies of Geth, or deciding whether or not to wipe out all intelligent robots in the galaxy. But with her small, subtle influences on the story, Lucy the AI displays a compassion and kindness that technically human characters like Dorian appear incapable of.
With Lucy, Loading Human asks whether humanity can be taught or programmed, and whether, by distancing ourselves from a moral code, we can end up becoming less human than our own artificial constructs.
A Galaxy of Possibilities
These three elements are only a few of the ways that the science of Loading Human adds depth and nuance to the game’s story. While Loading Human is set in a far-flung future filled with incredible technology, the challenges and drama at the heart of the story is very human, and the feuds between its core cast members will feel very familiar and relatable to players.
Through the lens of science fiction, we may discover important things about our own culture and society. We can learn a lot about ourselves by examining the things that we value most.
Loading Human was released as a launch title for the PlayStation VR on October 13, and is also available for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. To try the game for yourself, order the first chapter now!
Lead Image Source: Gamespot.