Daily Design: Day 6
Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on three randomly generated words. Today, they are;
Ordeal, Demon and Rare.
So, today’s game is named…
Soul Ownership is a game about a demon who has to traverse Hell in order to reclaim his soul, which he accidentally gambled away. The game is an exclusively single-player platformer, in the style of the old Rare games (Rare, you see? Get it? Ha!) like Banjo-Kazooie.
As such, it has a very similar aesthetic and ‘feel’ to the Overlord series, in that it’s essentially about an evil character on a lighthearted goofy adventure. If you think a game about a demon traversing hell can’t be goofy and lighthearted, it means you need to sink an unhealthy amount of time into Disgaea like the rest of us.
Like older platformers, such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, Soul Ownership takes place in a hub-world – your own little corner of hell. From here, you can traverse to any of the 9 circles of hell, each acting as a “world” or “level”.
Your goal in the circles is to gather the souls of others to empower yourself and continue on your mission to find your own soul. As you discover souls, you can learn new abilities and upgrade existing ones, opening previously closed avenues of exploration.
For example, you may be able to temporarily (or permanently) grow wings, allowing you to double-jump, glide or even fly, depending on how much you’ve upgraded the ability.
Certain abilities are needed to access circles, as the entrances to them are hidden in the hub area. So, you may need double-jump unlocked to reach the 5th circle, which in turn rewards you with an ability that allows you to reach the 7th and 8th. Freedom is important, but Soul Ownership also hides things in earlier circles that you’ll have to return later to discover, once you’ve unlocked new abilities.
While I’ve always loved platformers that are partitioned into levels with unique themes, I tend to go into a level, do everything at once and never look back. In other more open-world games, exploration can be a lot more interesting, and I think this is a good compromise. 9 levels that are a lot bigger than typical platformer levels but encourage backtracking and exploration appeals to me, personally, and I’d love to see a game like this.
Moreover, there’s something incredibly addictive about seeing your character upgrade visually throughout the game, like in the 2013 Tomb Raider.
In Tomb Raider, the protagonist – Lara Croft – changes visually every step of the journey. From her clothes to her weapons to her scars, she’s constantly “upgrading” and shifting, going from being scared and alone to…well, badass and still mostly alone (and inexplicably more violent).
But these visual upgrades do wonders to making the player feel like they’re having an impact on the game world and characters, which is hugely important in games that are essentially about exploration and collecting.
So, the basic loop is:
Explore circle > Find upgrade > Find new circle > Explore circle
It’s not dissimilar to Metroid or Castlevania, which is a great thing. As an idea, the world isn’t as fleshed out as it could be, but…
I’m out of time for today! Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow for more.