When Jasper Byrne posted the first images of his new game, following last year's Lone Survivor, it looked like a rather distinct change in direction had taken place. From the confines of an apartment block and troubled mind, both somewhat dilapidated, to open fields that were more like Hyrule's Lost Hills than Silent Hill. Byrne is an admirer of the dark fantasy of the Souls games, as am I, and the idea of something akin to a mash-up of Zelda and From Software's masterpiece seemed a promising and distinct possibility. But then the project was abandoned, until Byrne decided to unabandon it and continue work. That was a short while ago but new details have now emerged. Highlights are below, the rest is here.
Here's some details on entwining world-building, mechanics and theme, which is something that Dark Souls itself did brilliantly, although not uniquely of course. There's also mention of another big influence:
I’ve begun to build more of the world (which I’m trying not to show too much of because *spoilers*) but I can say that there are now multi-level areas working, like Dungeon Master, one of my all-time favourite RPG’s, you can fall down pits and the enemies can even follow you down there, or be found lurking when you reach the lower level because you lunged at them and sent them flying off a ledge.) I want to make a lot of use of the grid-based nature of the game, and have Dungeon Master-like traps, pressure pads, all those things that require you to be a little observant when moving forward. You can throw whatever you’re carrying, in either hand, not only to land in monsters’ faces stunning them temporarily while you make your escape, risking a valuable weapon or shield, but perhaps also to set off these fiendish traps before they find you instead?
And here's some notes on equipment and the design process:
As it stands, I’m planning to have no inventory except for the armour and helmet you wear, the two things you carry in your hands, and one support item. Designs can be subject to change of course! But I want to try and reduce and RPG to the fewest elements I can while still being able to feel like an RPG. That’s a key thing in what I’m going for mechanically, I think? And with up to four players on screen the GUI has to be as simple as possible, so my intended solution is to practically show all of it on the player, one of the reasons the animation takes so long, because the player must be able to use every item, in both hands, with four facing directions, in every suit and helmet!
I can't wait to see it in action and some lucky blighters already have. Byrne has been testing the game, including the multiplayer, with indie luminaries and other chums.