Sci-fi series “Orphan Black” will air its farewell season this summer. On Friday, the production company behind the show, Boat Rocker Media, is launching a mobile game to kindle excitement among Clone Club fans leading up to the series finale — and its creators believe the app will have a life that extends well beyond the TV run.
“Orphan Black: The Game” is a turn-based adventure puzzle game retelling key plots points from seasons 1-4 in the form of what Boat Rocker calls “fever-dream worlds” with a nightmarish art style. Players control the clone sestras (played in the show by Tatiana Maslany) as they fight enemies, avoid traps and solve riddles. The game launches Friday, March 24, priced at $4.99 (U.S.) in Apple’s iTunes App Store. Initially, it’s available only for iOS.
“It was important that there was a mystery, conspiracy feel to the game,” John Fawcett, who co-created “Orphan Black” with Graeme Manson, said in an interview. “That really locks into the theme of the show.”
The game features virtually all the clone sisters — Sarah, Cosima, Alison, Helena, Rachel, Beth, MK, Katja, Tony and Krystal — with more than 80 levels across 10 different worlds. Unlike the TV show, “Orphan Black: The Game” presents the storylines in a chronological fashion. Fawcett noted that in the game, the story begins with a prologue of events that happen before season 1 even starts, with “MK leading us in the forest to Beth.” (The show’s fans, we presume, will understand what he’s talking about.)
Maslany, who won the 2016 Emmy for best actress in a drama series for “Orphan Black,” provided voiceovers for the game. That includes a signature line she delivers when players reach the end of each world, said Bryce Hunter, senior VP of Boat Rocker Digital. “The grunts and death sounds are her voice as well,” he said.
The game also includes a variety of Easter eggs, including a secret world that players can uncover at the end. But the Boat Rocker guys refused to spill the beans on any of that.
Hunter said the company started assembling a team to develop the game in 2014, and began production on “Orphan Black: The Game” last year. Why hasn’t the studio produced a game for the show until now? After all, given the dystopian-tech vibe of the TV show, a game is a natural fit. Most of the clones don’t know about their sisters when the story starts, and as the show unfolds they’re forced to fight the forces behind the mysterious experiment as they race to solve the ultimate explanation for their existence.
“There were logistical hoops,” Hunter said. “We brought in a very focused, experienced team to dive into the world of ‘Orphan Black.’” Developers tested about 10 different gameplay types to make sure it would fit with the feel of the show and meet fan expectations. “Orphan Black: The Game” uses Unity Technologies’ game engine.
Fawcett, who spoke to Variety during a break in shooting this week for the series finale, said Boat Rocker is readying the launch of other projects related to the show, including a comic-book series at the end of March. “We’re hoping get fans champing at the bit to see season 5,” Fawcett said.
The fifth and final season premieres June 10, on BBC America in the U.S. and Canada’s Space network. “Orphan Black” is produced by Boat Rocker Studios’ Temple Street division in association with BBC America and Bell Media’s Space.
Fawcett said the last season spends a lot of time on Neolution Island and on the clones’ attempts to dismantle the Neolutionist patriarchy. “It’s been a crazy, crazy experience for us – every other day there’s been another main character wrapping, never to be seen again,” he said. “Our wrap party felt more like a funeral than a celebration.” For Fawcett, the most difficult character to bid goodbye to was Allison Hendrix, the suburban housewife, whom he said was probably his favorite of the clones.
On Wednesday, BBC America released a few cryptic details of what’s coming in season 5. Here’s the teaser: “This season, the walls close in on Sarah when nearly all her sestras and their allies are brought to heel by Rachel. Even more harrowing is that her daughter Kira has joined them. With the threat of Neolution having carte-blanche access to clone biology, Sarah is desperate to gain control, but realizes she must change tactics to pursue a long game. Protecting both her families, and the host of clones she’s yet to meet, Sarah and those still fighting the fight will uncover the missing pieces of the insidious conspiracy – and finally learn the story behind their origin. Despite the great risk, the fight of her life will either set her and her sestras free, or see them meet their end.”
At launch, “Orphan Black: The Game” will incorporate plot points and characters from the first four seasons, and Boat Rocker expects to introduce season 5 level packs later. As for why the company is launching it as a premium game, Hunter said that fans overwhelming preferred that model instead of it being a free-to-play game with in-app purchases.