Developer Stephen Huang discusses the use of spooky horror visuals in his upcoming game Atrio: The Dark Wild during a recent Game Rant interview.
Atrio: The Dark Savage sets itself apart from other survival automation games in part because of its use of horror visuals. Horror games remain an incredibly popular genre in 2021, as games like Resident Evil Village to prove. Plus, the tension and pace of these scary games often shows up in survival and automation titles as well. This tense gameplay loop often acts as a selling point for games like Don’t starve. What is rarer, however, is for automation games like Factorio or Satisfactory to fully reflect on the strange aesthetic.
This is not true for Atrio: The Dark Savage. However, the game didn’t start with horror elements in mind. Isto Inc. designer Stephen Huang spoke with Game Rant about the game ahead of its Early Access release on August 10, and explained how the game slowly evolved into a spookier experience than it was. originally. According to Huang, despite careful planning for market attractiveness and the title’s viability, these spooky visual themes and story elements emerged spontaneously throughout the development process.
Atrio: The Dark Wild was originally a love story
It might surprise some to learn that a game with lakes of blood, overwhelming darkness, exploding heads, a lonely android, blinking eyes in the night, and giant slobbering punk skull robots originally featured a love story. While a lot has changed since then, the giants that litter the game’s lonely environment have always been a part of the experience. They served to make the landscape much more diverse. Unfortunately for Atrio, the game’s original story may not have been ranked among the game’s best romances, according to Huang.
“I can tell you it’s definitely not in the game. It was meant to be a love story involving these giants, and obviously they looked different back then. It was driven by an aesthetic. visual. I wanted the huge monolithic structures of the world to break up the flat monotony of an isometric plane. “
While there are many difficulties with romance in games, it’s easy to see how a love story came to be in Atrio. There’s already an element of dread surrounding these monoliths, but the overall suspense and creeping tension of the game’s horror aesthetic make them pretty grim. In a love story, it could have had a more melancholy, peaceful, and sad quality, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Why Atrio fell in love
So the love story angle didn’t work for the game. However, even though the more romantic elements of the story started to fade, its giants didn’t. According to Huang, the change from the original romance plot happened as development of the game progressed and Isto Inc. brought more people to consult on the game. “Slowly, over and over time, I hired an editor (because the love story was bad enough). ” He also noted that “After experimenting with all of these visual ideas, the giants began to appear in the game.” As such, the giants have transformed with the game’s new thematic and narrative direction.
The horror of automation
While the history of the game was uncertain at various times, Huang and the Isto team always had solid plans for its mechanics. Nailing the mechanical pitch for the game was key, Huang said. The developer really liked Don’t starve, but believed that the Endgame lacked an automation component after such a hard-fought campaign, and therefore wanted to strike a balance between it and Factorio.
“It’s definitely a survival / automation game. That’s the fundamental descriptor. For us, it was both a financial and a passion decision.”
Unlike some horror games with weak fights, the horror of Atrio: The Dark Savage came from this mechanical basis. While much of the game’s development process is really “planned”, the horror side “kind of came together”.
Huang set an example with eyes that blink and twinkle on game nights. Apparently the team “wanted it to be in the dark” so they could “handle the power.” Of course, total darkness isn’t very interesting, so Isto added those creepy eyes. It took a while for Huang to realize, “Oh, we’ve made a scary game. “
It was ironic for Huang, as he freely admitted that “I hate horror games. I can’t play horror to save my life.” Many horror games are too scary for some, but it seems Huang’s aversion to horror was a nice balancing presence during AtrioDevelopment. The horror aesthetic makes the game stand out from other survival and automation titles, and it looks like they’ll evolve even more during the game’s Early Access.
Atrio: The Dark Savage is currently in Early Access on Steam and the Epic Games Store.
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