E3 '07: The Golden Compass First Look

We get a first look at Sega and Shiny's upcoming adventure game inspired by the beloved children's novel.

Take one beloved children's novel, add a movie inspired by the book and starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and Ian McShane, and what do you get? If you answered "a tie-in game inspired by the film and/or the book," you're on the right track with Sega's upcoming adventure game The Golden Compass. We had a chance to get an early look at the game, which is due for release in conjunction with the film this December.

The story of The Golden Compass game centers around the main character from the book and film, Lyra Belacqua, her shape-shifting demon friend Pan, and a heavily armored talking polar bear known as Iorek. In the demo version of the game, we got to see Lyra riding Iorek as he trekked through a snowy wasteland, battling packs of wolves as they traveled. As you might expect from a polar bear, Iorek's abilities are all about brute strength, and he tosses off attacking wolves with ease in order to protect his rider.

That isn't to say that Lyra is helpless. Thanks to her demon friend Pan's ability to shape-shift, Lyra can access areas of the map that would otherwise be unreachable. Though Pan can shift into many different forms in the books, the developers at Shiny have settled on four different forms for Pan in the game: ermine (essentially a weasel), sloth, hawk, and wildcat. Pan and his shape-shifting will be most useful in the platforming sections of the game, where Lyra has to use Pan's various abilities to get from one point of the level to the next.

While you might not think a sloth or an ermine would be useful, each form Pan can take offers its own unique abilities. For example, when transformed to sloth form, Lyra can use Pan as an extension of her own reach to grab ledges and poles. In hawk form, Lyra can glide using a double-jump move, and descend huge cliffs via Pan's hawk-form wings to glide to safety. As a wildcat with Lyra on his back, Pan can climb obstacles that would otherwise be insurmountable. Interestingly, you can switch between any of these forms on the fly; indeed, some of the more difficult puzzles in the game will require you to move from one form to the next quickly in order to move from spot to spot.

The titular golden compass isn't used for navigation in the game, but rather to divine the truth about the people and situations Lyra meets over the course of the game. Along with collecting clues about the many symbols on the compass as she navigates the game's levels, she'll use the compass to help answer questions that will periodically creep up throughout the course of the game. Though we weren't entirely clear on the mechanics of how the compass works, it sounds as if it might be add another level of depth to the game's adventure genre roots. We'll be bringing you more on The Golden Compass as we get closer to its release, so stay tuned.

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Discussion

29 comments
13lackfriday
13lackfriday

"Beloved children's novel"...? I assure you, GameSpot, His Dark Materials is NOT a child's series. Throughout, there's some pretty heavy stuff covered. Children are often put in dire situations, bodies are badly maimed in battle, and controversial issues like religion play a huge role towards the end. For an adolescent audience, at least. Gameplay so far looks a little flat, with no particularly unique elements aside from the usual exploration and uninspired combat system. Still, if they can really work in the alethiometer's role in the game, and get in a genuinely intuitive system to solving its readings, then this game might actually go somewhere. Graphics could use some work too, but that's not my main concern.

hassam7
hassam7

the book was great lets check this out!

PG8472_basic
PG8472_basic

I thought this book was called the Northern Lights?

Mikey_PJ
Mikey_PJ

The book was awesome, hopefully the game will be too!

Owen349
Owen349

camble ... read the next two books and then come back and post again. and i agree with BDANick. this is a great story and they are probably just going to ruin it. if they make a M rated game out of the third book il be happy. p.s. i dont remember any big "sexual encouter" and i have read them all at least 3 times each. but i have also never read the last page so u never know.

Gwottalegend
Gwottalegend

This sounds good, i am only half way through the first one(had to put on hold at release of harry potter) but i think the game has a chance

king_loei
king_loei

I personally loved the trilogy, and I think they (the producers) can do a great job with the game if they try hard enough, as the book has a lot of potential. Here's hoping it doesn't turn into another typical tie in game.

howl78
howl78

? Not too sure about this one. The trailer 4 the movie looks good but....that's about it.

jimbo-b
jimbo-b

This game sounds interesting. I'm thinking it could be a nice sleeper, kinda like Beyond Good and Evil (which was a great game). Maybe this will be the first true sleeper hit for the Wii!!! Here's hoping for a good game!

BDANick
BDANick

its a childs book with some very mature themes though mate... if i recall theres a sexual encouter at the finale... not very childlike... of course that depends on your cultural disposition, but still im not sure id want a child under the age of ten reading these books.. not to mention the violence.... im not a fan of censorship but for me at least, children come first... If they include everything from the books, it will be an M rated game for sure... theyd have to seriously massacre it otherwise anyway theyre great books... dont think the game will be worth ten bucks but u never know... i do hope the movie follows the book EXACTLY... this is one story that shouldnt be cut into pieces by movie pigs... but then the world is cruel and money is what governs all these sort of decisions....

other44
other44

will this be a kids game?

Camble
Camble

No Omber, Golden Compass is a children's book. I'm taking a course at university right now called Young Adult Literature and we read this book. Young adult means under 18 and under 18 means child. But, regardless, this article doesn't reveal much about the game.

Omber
Omber

Im dissapointed at lack of knowledge the person who wrote this has about the books. His Dark Materials is far from a childrens book. Maybe something good can come out of this but I havent seen any movie based games recently that have been even midly good...

Agulf
Agulf

Have you seen the trailer for this movie? "This could make for an interesting Game" was the first thing to come to mind.

Bansheesdie
Bansheesdie

Game based on a book...need I say more?

SolidSnake35
SolidSnake35

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ShadowJinx
ShadowJinx

uh, i could be wrong but I don't really think His Dark Materials is a childrens series....

AnFangs_Endes
AnFangs_Endes

Hmm...movie-based-games = meh, book-based-games = uh, book-based-movie-games = no thx

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

Sounds really cool. I will definitely be checking it out.

Rtisan
Rtisan

The novel is a great read,and I think the story makes for a great game. The images look fantastic!

Pete5506
Pete5506

Ya I don't think any of this is going to beat the book

icytower
icytower

Never heard of the book.

magicmo
magicmo

I must be deprived, never heard of the book.

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

Looks like it could do quite well - I hope.

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

Love to hear more on this one in the near future

Omni-Soul
Omni-Soul

I love the book, I've read the trilogy and found it to be very enjoyable experience. I highly recommend reading the first book atleast before seeing the movie. Is it coming out for any other system? ( hopefully Ps3? maybe even wii?)