Interview: Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta

Unearthed-Trail-of-Ibn-BattutaUnearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta is an upcoming action/adventure title from Semaphore games and marks a big step in major game development in the Middle East.

Today Ahmad Jadhalla, the writer and director of the upcoming game took some time to speak to us about Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta.

How did Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta come to be?

Unearthed for us in the region is a dream 30 years in the making. There has never been a locally developed story driven console or even multiplatform game from this region before. We want to kickstart the game development industry in the Middle East by presenting it as an economically viable sector while at the same time provide a non-stereotypical portrayal of the region that gives a different angle than what you are used to. So even though we based our game around a famous Medieval Muslim traveller named (Ibn Battuta) the game is set in modern day and in it you unravel a mystery surrounding this historical figure in a journey across the whole Middle East tracing his footsteps.


Obviously people are going to compare Unearthed to Uncharted, what makes Unearthed stand out amongst the crowd of third-person shooters?

That it is mainly not a third person shooter, it is an adventure game first but it has a lot of action elements including shooting, fighting, stealth, driving and agility and climbing. This is a genre that currently only has Tomb Raider and Uncharted as the players and we selected to be in it as opposed to make yet another first person shooter. Of course, if you are making a treasure hunting game set in modern day then it is very hard to make it not look like those two games, in the same way that the Mummy movie series is not that much different from Indiana Jones for example.

We differentiate Unearthed by making it presented in a TV style episodic format, be on many platforms that the two other games are not on (PC/Mac/Ios/Android/PS3 and more to be announced soon) and presenting a unique gameplay mechanic/twist that will show up in episode 2. Don’t get me wrong, we are die hard fans of both Tomb Raider and Uncharted and we consider developing Unearthed to be the ultimate form of “Fanboyism” where you take a game you love and then use the framework established in it to tell your own story while paying homage to the original.

How long has Unearthed been in development for and has it been a difficult experience?

Unearthed has been in development for three years now, of course a lot of that is researching the story, the technology and how to tackle bringing the game to over 10 platforms with very different levels of power and different control schemes and yet keep the game experience consistent in all of them. So as you can imagine it was very challenging but I think now that we managed to finish it that we have a lot of real world experience, not just for the development side of it but also about how to work with the global media outlets, the fans, the positive and negative criticism.

Unearthed will be supporting PlayStation Move on the PlayStation 3, how will that work?

The PlayStation Move controller (which is optional) will be controlling the camera in the game while the Navigation Controller or Dualshock 3 controller will be used for the movement. This makes tasks like aiming a lot of fun and you can of course tweak the sensitivity of X and Y axis to your preference.

Do you have any plans to bring Unearthed to the PS Vita?

Yes, maybe not immediately but it is in the pipeline. Also, there is one other super exciting platform which we will announce soon 😉

It may be a little early to ask, but will there be more adventures featuring Faris Jawad in the future?

We are already working on the second episode of Unearthed and that is shaping up quite nicely to be a MAJOR upgrade in all aspects from episode 1 (Graphics, Animation, and Gameplay Elements). In addition, we are developing a Prequel “Interactive Novel” for mobile and tablets titled (Unearthed: Arabian Sword) which focuses on Dania (Faris Archeologist Sister) and it provides a different perspective on her character and personality. (Unearthed: Arabian Sword) will be a cross-over between novels, comic books and games with more emphasis on puzzles and story.

Check out the trailer for Episode one below:

Episode 1 of Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta is set to release digitally on May 29th for the PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 for the sum of $9.99 as well as iOS and Android devices for the lower price of $4.99, with more platforms to be announced.

You can vote for Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta on Steam Greenlight here:

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Looking forward to digging into Unearthed? Let us know down below.

  1. This actually looks interesting. Yes, it looks very much like Uncharted, but ever since Nathan Drake started his adventures, a lot of games have that same, cinematic look. Plus, it speaks volumes because, for once, a character with the name of Faris Jawad is not instantly a terrorist that must be gunned down COD style. I certainly hope that it plays well, because I am looking forward to this release. And the fact that there’s a possibility of it coming to the Vita? Yes please! (And thanks, Chris, I can always count on you to champion my favorite gaming platform.)

    1. I have made it my personal endeavour to big-up the PS Vita at any possible chance. Even in the local video game store I’m telling customers how awesome it is and showing them all the neat tricks. I don’t even get paid for it, it’s just dedication haha!

      Completely agree with the character comment, too often we’re presented with Middle Eastern characters are the stereotypical bad guys, it’s refreshing to see a change. I think Unearthed may be quite a surprise when it comes out.

      It’s worth noting that the trailer looks a little, well, unpolished. Though Ahmad, the writer/director stated that there are big improvements set for future episodes.

      1. Well, it certainly strikes me as their first effort, so bumps in the road are to be expected. I mean, I’m not actually expecting Uncharted, I’m just hoping for a good game that is fun to play. Graphics mean little, since I grew up playing Atari, and back then, in caveman times, graphics were usually one blip moving towards another blip. Frankly, this move towards hyper realism doesn’t sit the best with me, and my favorite games have always been the ones with a nice artistic style that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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