The video game Stray Gods is a new genre of storytelling, according to its makers: a game in which the soundtrack is the star, and player choices affect both the plot and the music.
Australian singer Montaigne and musical comedy band Tripod collaborated with Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory on the soundtrack, which is brought to life by performers from Broadway and Hollywood.
Stray Gods was developed in Australia by independent outfit Summerfall Studios and released just a few weeks ago.
So far, the reception has been glowing, said Summerfall's David Gaider.
While he acknowledges Stray Gods is not for everyone, Gaider believes it expands the possibilities of gaming.
"There have been very few games where the music was the point, and a player's actions could affect the music or the lyrics," he told AAP.
It may be a novel type of game but the plot and characters reference Greek mythology, with main character Grace given the powers of a god when muse Calliope - known for her ecstatic singing - is murdered.
Grace must use her new powers to solve the murder before she has to take the blame for it, and pay with her life.
It's like a musical with thousands of permutations - many scenes culminate in a song battle, which Gaider hopes will attract fans of musical theatre.
"Maybe for some of them, this might be a bit of a gateway drug to get into gaming," he said.
Stray Gods has graphic novel-style visual design, and players have to choose whether Grace should charm, negotiate or crash through when she encounters other characters.
Publishers initially showed little interest in the game, with the exception of indie outfit Humble Games, and much of the funding came through Vicscreen and crowd funding.
Like the musical Hamilton, the first big number took an eternity to write: the composers had to work out how exactly it could be interactive and satisfying at the same time, with hooks, structure and a story.
One of only two people who knew the whole soundtrack well enough to be able to check if the game was playing correctly was Wintory, who has listened to all the possible versions of Stray Gods many times over.
"It was a lot of work, it was far beyond what any of us expected, but it really was such a joy," he said.
The Los Angeles-based composer began collaborating with Australian musical comedy group Tripod on what would become Stray Gods in 2018.
Writing enough songs for an entire game, with all its permutations, was a massive task. Recording the singing and voice parts took six months.
And creating the "multiverse possibilities of a song" the game required was only possible thanks to Tripod's experience as gamers, said Wintory.
Tripod member Simon Hall said some of his fondest memories from touring with his band were actually the times they played Xbox games together.
"It was our safe place - when we were really annoying each other, we could start talking about games and begin to like each other again," he said.
Hall is fascinated to see what will come of Stray Gods, and the musical-videogame genre in future.
"No one has ever done anything like this before, it's very exciting to me that we've invented a thing," he said.
In October, the Stray Gods team will stage a fashion show in Melbourne's Federation Square, with live performances from Tripod and Montaigne, as part of a Big Games Night Out event during Melbourne International Games Week.
The game is the latest in a string of innovative titles to come out of Australia's independent gaming studios, with Untitled Goose Game, Cult of the Lamb and Unpacking some of the recent hits.
"You're seeing a lot of indie titles coming out of Australia that are unlike anything anywhere else, it's pretty amazing," Gaider said.
Melbourne International Games Week runs from September 30 to October 8.
Australian Associated Press