Interview: Mattia Bernatti Vittorio discusses Gomorrah, an upcoming crime drama game based on the book of the same name

Interview: Mattia Bernatti Vittorio discusses Gomorrah, an upcoming crime drama game based on the book of the same name

Gomorrah is an upcoming interactive crime drama game based on the bestseller book of the same name. Given that the show is known for its characterisation and writing, developer 34BigThings decided to focus strongly on the narrative side of things by allowing players to craft their own story with eight possible endings. It is due to release for Android and Steam on February 16th.

We recently had a chance to chat with Mattia Bernatti Vittorio, Game Designer at 34BigThings about Gomorrah. Together we discussed how the game ties in with the show, the choice of art style, and the decision to include management and resource elements, among other things.

Could you please introduce yourself and your role on Gomorrah to our audience?

Hello, my name is Mattia, and I work as a Game Designer at 34BigThings. As the lead for all game-related matters on Gomorrah, I oversaw the entire project, excluding the exceptional visual aesthetic that we achieved. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak directly with the players who were kept in mind during the design of Gomorrah.

Can you tell us about the game's plot and how it ties in with the show?

We put in the hands of the players the fate, ethics and challenges of a hunted down protagonist – the last remaining trace of a clan that is disappearing. As the rightful heiress of the “Porto di Napoli”, Nina is animated by two main feelings: survival and revenge. The plot revolves around Nina’s - the player’s - decisions while dealing with this tragic situation and the consequences, as the new boss of his family.
We wanted to work on a story speaking about the struggle of being born in a mafia-related context which is hard to escape, so the main decisions in the game are hard decisions, with real, hard, consequences. We are trying to express the need to tell a story and make sense of a complex situation in (our home country) Italy.

Gomorrah is a narrative-driven game with clan management and resource-sharing elements. Why did you choose this genre and direction for the game?

When we received the chance to work on a project that speaks about these themes - themes that are in our heart - we jumped on it with both feet. A narrative game is the best medium to bring a story to people and make them feel it. Moreover, the decision-making aspect is crucial to the success of this narrative style. We hope players will feel like there is no good option in many situations, which is our goal as the mafia works like that. The resource management part of the game is there to challenge the players on different levels and is a good fit for the themes and challenges of the game.

The game is based on the TV series of the same name. Would you say players need to have seen the show to enjoy Gomorrah?

We actually based everything on the book and the movie, the original experience and narrative context by Roberto Saviano. So there will be no need to watch the show first.


Were there any challenges you faced when developing the game?

Yes, there were a lot of challenges! Finding a fitting art style and balancing the narrative/management parts are the first things that come to mind for any Game Designer who has the chance to work on a game that crosses genres like our interpretation of Gomorrah. One of our biggest challenges is localization – as the game is available for many languages, we struggled trying to preserve the same narrative quality and tone across all languages, which is the centrepiece of the game experience, in our context.

The game has eight different endings to discover. Is there a 'true' ending?

We have eight endings to allow players more freedom to create their own story. The endings represent the different ways players can express their will while playing the game. You could be a Merciful Boss, a Relentless one, or even more…

Each mission is procedurally generated. Why did you choose this approach over hand-crafted levels?

The game isn’t entirely procedurally generated. We have confined the generation of interesting scenarios to the Management phase only. We thought a more diverse approach to this phase could benefit players who want to play again and again to see all the different endings… this way the game will be different every time.

Additionally, can you lift the lid on how the procedural generation in Gomorrah works? Is it a case of mashing different elements together at random?

The procedural generation part complements the narrative part of the game which is the core… the juice. The two phases are tied together by the resources the player needs to move on, and the procedural part takes care of offering such resources in a desirable fashion. Basically, we evaluate the current state of the player and generate the right missions for their playthrough. But also, some mild random elements are there, and they are needed to simulate the unpredictability of life.

Gomorrah sports a dark comic book-esque art style. What were the reasons for choosing this art style?

Given that this project was created to generate a high emotional involvement on the part of whom plays it, it is essential for us to take responsibility for dealing with the topic and context with due ethical shrewdness. The choice of an adult-animated tone is what we use to make a tense, violent, and very dark entertainment experience more approachable to a wider audience. We are trying to reach as many people as possible with a story that needs to be told as much as understood and feared.

Post-launch, can players expect any more content for Gomorrah at some point? Or is it a case of the release being the final version?

Only time will tell but I can say that we have plenty of ideas to expand the gameplay and stories in the world of Gomorrah.

Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen brings both a love of games and a very formal-sounding journalism qualification to the Pocket Gamer team.