Death Is Not The End.
In Death, In Early Access! (Dev Blog #1)
Glorious phantoms of the afterlife, welcome to In Death!
My name is Petur Thorarinsson (aka Scarpia) and I am the person responsible for In Death’s creative vision and game design here at Solfar Studios. Previously a resident at CCP Games for over a decade working on various titles and ultimately serving as game design director for EVE Online, before making a joyous leap to Solfar two years ago straight into the deep end of VR development.
After running an awesome closed beta since mid December, we are excited and proud to be bringing In Death to Early Access. This was made possible by our dedicated group of beta testers that helped us improve and refine our game to the point where it is ready for a much wider audience. There is still a lot to be done and more content to be added, and during this next phase we will continue relying on our players’ invaluable feedback to help steer us in the right direction and continuously evaluate what will make In Death the best it can possibly be.
By the end of 2016, after the initial launch of Everest VR, we decided to incorporate some of the learnings we had received to hone our plans for our first VR game. We felt like the current sentiment in the VR gamer community was that people were starving for a hard core VR game, with high replay value. An old school game that was unpredictable, tough as nails, kill-me-plenty demoralizer and unapologetic destroyer of dreams. Incidentally, this was also the game we wanted to play ourselves, so we pivoted to explore a new concept which ultimately became In Death.
We have a deeply rooted passion for building immersive experiences; worlds filled with beauty and lush environments. For increased immersion we wanted to rely on physical skills and real-world metaphors as much as possible to minimize the game’s needs for immersion breaking UI elements. To this end, we started looking for fun and strategic solutions to incorporate locomotion into the core game loop.
The defining prototype was tested and reviewed by the whole team on our last day before breaking off for the holidays in 2016. We had made a massive procedurally generated world in the sky that was crawling with wraiths. As a player, you had a bow and a shield, and two types of arrows. One arrow to kill enemies with and one arrow to teleport with.
The ‘aha’ moment came when we realized how impactful and rewarding it was to weave these simple mechanics together to beat tough situations. Since the player only moved once the teleport arrow made impact, meant that they had a moment to block, retaliate or ready their next arrow while the teleport arrow was still in the air. Upon a successfully aimed teleport, a skillful player could already be lined up perfectly for his next shot when the movement happened to score a point-blank headshot in the back of his enemy’s skull. Furthermore, a poorly aimed teleport arrow could trap the player in hellish situations.
We felt like the game genre that would synergize best with our prototype and creative vision, was to design In Death as a Dantean journey with heavy rogue-like elements, supported by a deep achievement-based progression system that gradually unlocked new gameplay options and greater challenges for the player from one playthrough to the next.
True to rogue-like games, In Death has procedurally generated worlds, filled with random enemy encounters and loot. When you die, apart from an entry to the global leaderboard, your progression in that playthrough is permanently lost. Your account progression however is persisted in the form of achievements you gradually unlock (sometimes over multiple playthroughs). All achievements in-turn unlock new items you can find in subsequent playthroughs and higher baseline character stats. Additionally, new and tougher enemies will start populating the world as you unlock more achievements. If you let an inexperienced friend try out In Death using your high-level account, unless you want them to transform into a blood-soaked pincushion within the first few seconds, make sure to launch the game in demo mode and have them play through the tutorial.
In Death is not for the faint of heart, but we hope you’ll muster up the courage to plant your feet in the afterlife.
Yours In Death and beyond,
About the Game
In Death’s dream kingdom, Heaven is abandoned. Amongst its crumbling ruins, forsaken souls, angelic creatures and demons alike have run amok. Only a courageous hero that dares to venture deep into the Afterlife will be able to restore Harmony.
A VR shooter with roguelike elements, In Death´s surreal medieval setting is presented in a procedurally generated world with monsters, mysteries and loot. Driven by an achievement-based progression system that advances between sessions, each run is unique, with unpredictable outcomes.
Features and Highlights:
A VR Shooter with Roguelike elements:
Inspired by classic Roguelike dungeon crawlers, In Death pays homage to this merciless genre favoured by core gamers. With no save points, each procedurally generated run uses a random seed to generate the map with randomized enemy and loot spawn points. Game progression is driven by an achievement system that persists across each run and scales the difficulty level of the game in lockstep with your mastery of it.
Ranged Combat, Perfected:
Make intense kills with your longbow, while using your shield to both block ranged attacks or defend against short-range melee threats. Shield bash enemies threatening to swarm you and buy yourself precious time for that short-range headshot.
Upgrade your bow with a host of special arrows gained by looting monsters, finding pick-ups or by visiting in-level Reliquaries where you can power up with a range of intense special arrows to help you blast through ever harsher enemy encounters.
Unique locomotion system:
In Death introduces an innovative, fresh movement system tailored for VR comfort and perfectly coupled with your fighting stance. Switch instantly from combat arrows to a magic teleport arrow to navigate anywhere you can shoot. If you prefer, throw the single-handed teleport shard to perform short strafes, dash around corners or quickly retreat from overwhelming opposition.
And if you prefer free movement, In Death allows you to opt for a classic free movement style of navigation that layers onto the primary combat locomotion afforded by your teleport arrow and shard. The choice is yours.
Global, Cross Platform Leaderboards & Personal Stats:
Fight your way to pole position on the global leaderboards, competing for placement in the all-time top 10 rankings or the 24 hour leaderboard. All VR players compete together, irrespective of their VR rig of choice. And track your own progress with statistics showing your current run stats against your personal best performance.
Beautiful, Medieval Setting:
Powered by Unreal Engine, In Death pushes the boundaries of visual performance in VR. Optimized to scale performance to take the best possible advantage of your PC, we strive to bring a high level of visual polish to your experience, with more to come as we progress through Early Access to Full Release.
Convenience Settings for Your Playstyle (and Friends):
Play right- or left handed, seated or standing, and with or without snap rotation depending on your sensor setup. And switch into Demo mode without sacrificing your progression if your friends want to jump in.