#3 Calluna: The Adventures of Ole Bull
You can tell straight away when a game has been made with love. When passion and pride fill every corner of the screen. For me, this level of effort will always go a long way to help overlook the shortcomings of a game. Calluna has it’s issues, but you can feel as you progress through this adventure, just how much it means to the people that made it. For the two hours or so that I spent in this world, that effort and love was very much acknowledged and appreciated.
Calluna: The Adventures of Ole Bull is the first official release by Norwegian indie company Surrealist. They both developed and published the game, which depicts true historical events of Norwegian composer and violinist Ole Bull (1810-1880). Bull was a child prodigy and is listed as “one of the greatest performing artists of the 19th century”. He was Norway’s first superstar celebrity, composing more than seventy works. Although he eventually became incredibly famous and amassed a huge fortune, Ole Bull had a turbulent life. You will discover this over the course of the game as it covers four very different periods of his life – young, old, rich, and poor.
Your adventure begins in 1815, in Norway’s largest city at the time, Bergen. It is Ole Bull’s fifth birthday and you awake hoping the day has lots of surprises in store. The game is played in first-person and in a semi-open world. You can interact with inhabitants, run simple tasks, and there are plenty of collectibles to look out for. There will always be a few tasks during each playable period that you have to complete in order to progress to the next stage, but most are optional. And given this is a historical game, all locations are peppered with interesting and pertinent tidbits and factoids.
You will travel from Bergen to Paris to Cairo, experiencing the pivotal moments that shaped Ole Bull’s life and made him the musician that he was. You’ll lend a helping hand on the Bull’s family farm, hunt the water spirits and forest creatures from Scandinavian folklore, you’ll scare the locals by playing in the Giant’s Kettle, you’ll survive the brutal Cholera outbreak that ravaged Paris in 1832, and you’ll climb to the top of the largest pyramid on your 66th birthday, by order of King Oscar II. Ole Bull had a remarkable life with soaring highs and desperate lows and it was fascinating to journey through it all.
But as stated at the beginning, what this game is for and why it was made, more than makes up for a lady and her cabbages. I knew nothing of Ole Bull before playing Calluna, but I have now explored beautiful parts of the world and learned a lot along the way. For a debut release, this is a strong start. I love little adventures with an educational slant and I look forward to more from Surrealist.
Calluna is out now on Steam
You can follow Surrealist on twitter – @surrealistgames
Their website – Surrealist