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Stalker devs launch Kickstarter for spiritual successor

Update: Vostok Games disputes Stalker connection, says it's pursuing legal action

Former GSC Game World developers have launched a Kickstarter for a new post-apocalyptic survival game called Areal.

The game, billed as the "definitive spiritual successor" to Stalker, is being developed by a new studio called West Games, which is comprised of "the core people that developed the Stalker series".

"Our fully independent studio allows us to express our unrestrained creativity and allows us to make something that is truly unique," the devs say in the pitch video.

"Areal realises all of our best ambitions, dreams, ideas and efforts. The best way to describe it is as the spiritual successor to the cult hit Stalker series... It preserves and enhances the atmosphere of Stalker. Areal is a love letter to fans of the horror and post-apocalyptic genre."

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The project's Kickstarter page says, despite being in a post-apocalyptic setting, Areal will feature "intricately detailed open world environment that is extremely varied and colorful. The game takes place in a future where civilization crumbled due to the effects of "an unearthly material called Metamorphite, which eventually spreads, corrupts and infects the whole world".

"The source of Metamorphite comes from a meteor that impacted the earth long ago, and it is the site of constant conflict and bloodshed," it continues. "Areal's story is not linear - players can choose how their characters act and speak - everything from how you talk to who you kill changes the storyline of Areal.

"There is no morality system in Areal, so you are free to make choices that you think are best in any given situation, without being blinded and limited by a standard good/evil system."

One of the game's more interesting ideas is called the X-Life System, which "simulates life and adjusts to every action that the player makes".

"You can regularly observe and interact with the environment that surrounds you. Accidental encounters with mutants and other foes brings new and completely dynamic combat situations that always differ from one another."

Further details on weapons, story, vehicles, Metamorphites, AI, the mutant enemies, and more can be found at the Areal Kickstarter page.

GSC has officially closed its doors and cancelled the development of Stalker 2 in April 2012. The developer pledged to "do its best" to carry on at the time, but later closed its doors, with the dev team spawning a spin-off studio called Vostok Games.

In December 2012, independent publisher bitComposer Entertainment AG claimed to have acquired the rights to make future STALKER game adaptations. However, GSC's CEO Sergey Grigorovich claimed he was still in possession of the license. It is still unclear who owns the IP.

Update: In response to the Areal Kickstarter, Vostok Games Joe Willburn has said it has contacted its lawyers about the claims that West Games devs were involved in the creation of Stalker.

"We have contacted GSC's lawyers regarding this fraudulent claim of being the developers of Stalker and Metro Last Light. Please do all you can do ensure people know these claims are false."

It has been noted that some of the images West Games uses in its pitch can also be found on the Stalker Wiki, raising potential copyright concerns.

We have contacted Vostok Games and West Games for a statement.

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