I like it when developers take a bit of a leap. So Dustforce developer Hitbox Team’s announcement that their next game won’t be a 2D platformer made me tingle. Instead it’ll be a first-person platform game called Spire. Spire is a good name. The real-world has buildings or towers. It’s only a spire if it’s in a fantasy world. And you know if you hear such a name then it means you’re going to be ascending. Spire is Esperanto for “climb the bloody thing”, after all.
Spire’s about adventure and movement. In it you’ll “ascend a monolithic tower of unknown origin. The internals of the tower are ever-changing: it’ll be a different adventure every time. While exploring, players will encounter myriad dangers and elusive secrets; they must use their wits and limited resources to climb as high as possible.”
Hitbox will be imbuing that sense of mystery in everything Spire does. While an “ever changing” world speaks of prodcedural generation, the truth is the world will be somewhat curated: “We want to keep this in mind in order to create a procedural level generation that has flow and character. If the generator has created a dangerous, frantic sequence with lots of combat, it might think to then generate a scene with lower intensity to better control the emotional arc of the experience. In this way, Spire will generate intentional level flow instead of randomized environments. The resolution of the generation is very high: there are no premade rooms or scripted events. Everything from the placement of the books on a shelf to the shape of the walls and floors will be generated with intention.”
It’s the same with monsters and rewards. Fantasy in this case just means they have a framework to make things oogly boogly, not gobliny. And I note in the weapon screenshot, there’s a harp! Players will have to combine the left-hand and right-hand weapons to overcome issues, though those problems aren’t mentioned in any specific terms.
It’s the talk of movement and combos that really grabbed me, though. Dustforce’s janitor moved with the precision of a thousand Lionel Messis, and even if this is an FPS, it’ll hold true to those elements. The level generation will build a game that’s there to be flashily, but efficiently, climbed while “incorporating walljumps, wall sliding, and other advanced techniques.” The touchpoint is this Quake video.
It seems a tall order (that cliché is worth it for the pun), to create a game that constructs a world that takes into account a movement set that’s built to take on challenges, but if they get it right, Hitbox will have made something gloriously exciting. Previous form is with them.