As part of its Collective indie crowd-voting platform, Square Enix has a Steam Early Access game in development that has really caught my eye for its dark atmospheric graphics in a manner which rekindle memories of games like Limbo and Flashback. Billed as an atmospheric side-scrolling shooter with puzzle solving elements, Black The Fall is an “odd and unexpected black and white dream inspired by a childhood passed behind the Iron Curtain”. With this in mind, I spoke to Cristian Diaconescu (Creative Director, Sand Sailor Studio) and got to find out a little bit more about the game.
Black The Fall is an indie game that’s coming out for PC. What other platforms will it coming out in future?
Yeah, it’s going to be released on Steam in Q1 this year. We’re going to have a PC version as well as Mac and Linux, and we’re looking to have it be released on PS4 in Q2.
What about the PS Vita?
We’re not sure yet. We’re talking with Sony and we’re exploring all options.
Is the Vita technically capable of hosting the game?
Yes, I think so.
How would you describe Black The Fall to people who’ve never heard of your game?
First of all, it’s a side-scroller. It has puzzle and stealth elements, but it also has people manipulation mechanics that we use to solve puzzles.
So the main protagonist, can he or she hack into people’s minds and control them that way?
Well, let me come back to the main source of inspiration of our game, because we came from Romania and the main source of inspiration is our Communist past. So the manipulation that you do in the game, it’s sort of inspired by how people were treated back then by the State. So it’s that sort of manipulation, not like brain-jacking. It’s just good force and you have a designator and you say, “You do that for me”. That’s it; very simple.
What is the objective of the game? Apart from the fact that it has a film-noir art aesthetic, what is the storyline for the game?
What we want to achieve through the game is to convey some of the things that we and our parents experienced back in the day of Communism. So there is a narrative in the sense that you start as a worker in a factory. At some point a door opens, and that’s your choice. You can either stay in and do the same repetitive stuff and not stand out, or you can escape. So everything that you do from that point onwards is avoiding the system, and also working the system to your advantage.
You’ve stated that Black The Fall is a side-scroller with stealth elements, and there are people manipulation aspects to the game. But for those who would like to be able to make a more direct comparison in terms of what’s already out there, what games would you argue have been a close inspiration for comparison purposes?
My favourite game of all time is Another World so that’s a good comparison. Another one is Flashback of course. But those are old games. In terms of new games, you might say it has something from Limbo in terms of graphics, and maybe Deadlight or Swapper… something like that.
Sand Sailor Studio… how long has it been in operation for?
We’re a young studio. We were born in 2014 for this project. But we have very experienced people. I had my own outsourcing studio. The programmers had their own outsourcing studios. Our producer has his [own] business. So we have extensive experience in the domain. But this is our first project together, and for this purpose we created Sand Sailor Studio. The main focus for us and for our studio is to create games that touch people emotionally. So what we want to explore is cultural diversity, social problems… I think all indie developers should push the limits of gaming, not for just entertainment but to share culture and to be a part of culture.