Ellis Tucci grew up playing games like Thief, System Shock, and Deus Ex. Now she's making an immersive sim of her own. It's called Spectra, and it's set in the US in an alt-history 1972 where Soviet Union is the dominant military power after President Roosevelt was deposed in a fascist coup. You play as a Soviet agent tasked with infiltrating and fomenting revolution in a fortress city called Hiwatha.
Tucci wants Spectra to meet the criteria players will expect from an immersive sim. "To me, the immersive sim is the platonic ideal of the video game" she says. "I've tried to deliver on that immersion by creating an environment that is extremely interactable and flexible in the ways it can be used." She explains that "a quite frankly silly proportion of the buildings in each map are enterable and that "you can turn off the lights, set traps, and use things like televisions, radios, or payphones as lures."
It sounds like everything immersive sim fans want. But there's one big difference between Spectra and the games that inspired it. Tucci is making it on her own. And she isn't the only indie developer working in one of the most ambitious, developmentally complex genres in the industry. Games like Shadows Of Doubt, Fallen Aces and Gloomwood are merely the steam rising from the bubbling magma chamber that is indie immersive sim development, Like the recent revival of retro shooters, the indie space is on the verge of an immersive sim eruption.