Cuba’s First Independent Video Game: “Savior”

Josuhe Pagliery and Johann Armenteros didn’t grow up with gaming options, with arcade games for sale and for play. They grew up in Fidel Castro’s Cuba, in isolation from the latest gaming developments and gaming communities. Still, Pagliery and Armenteros are inspired video game developers who are working hard to develop Cuba’s first independent video game.

“Savior” Becomes a Reality

“Savior” is a 2D platformer game with hand-drawn animation by Pagliery that is coded by Armenteros. It has a haunting score composed by German Carrasco and focuses on a main character named “Little God” who wakes up from a strange dream to find himself living inside of a crumbling video game.

Pagliery started an IndieGoGo campaign, asking backers to meet a threshold of $10,000 so he and Armenteros can finish a playable demo of the game’s proposed first chapter. It was fully funded and then some by November 29, 2016, providing the partners with the financing needed to complete the next stage of “Savior.” Right now, the game will be developed for the PC first, then for consoles, if Pagliery has his way.

Living and Working in Cuba

Growing up in Cuba in the 90s, most children had no access to any games beyond what the government created and published. These government-sponsored games aren’t designed to entertain – they’re designed to educate the player on a topic. Luckily for Pagliery, his cousins owned an Atari console. He was able to play a range of games that many other Cuban kids never experienced.

Today, even though U.S.-Cuba relations are improving and Fidel Castro has died, it’s still very difficult for people who live and work in Cuba to connect to the outside world. The Internet access is slow and unavailable in many parts of the island.

For Pagliery and Armenteros, this makes game development that much harder and time-consuming. They can’t talk to other game developers in different countries. They have to figure out each challenge and problem on their own. If they need to connect to Wi-Fi, they have to go to a public hotspot, which are available at only a few parks in Havana.

Stay tuned for updates on “Savior,” and follow along as these two young developers realize their own dream but also pave a way for other Cuban artists and coders to start their own projects.