It’s been some months since we last talked to Interwave about Dark Matter, the studio’s upcoming 2.5D survival horror game, but today the developer has sent us word that their game has assumed a shape that could be called final, and wanted to share some key gameplay details with us.
“The full Dark Matter experience is functional, if not complete or polished yet. We have finally reached that tipping point where more work goes into building the actual game experience than into building the infrastructure that supports that experience. Our change logs talk more and more about tweaks, refinements and new levels, and less about impressive new tech-y bits. That is a good thing”, Interwave wrote on their blog.
What we already knew about Dark Matter is that the game is a platformer at heart, inspired by Metroid, Resident Evil and Silent Hil, where you as the Ensign explore haunted hallways and facilities in 5 major chapters. You’ll scavenge for parts and blueprints, expand your arsenal to six deadly weapons and freely customize each to fit your combat style against intelligent, reactive enemies. The game aims to deliver a hard-hitting take of survival horror in deep space, with a heavy emphasis on tactical combat and exploration.
What we learned today is that an integral part of the gameplay that’s been kept under wraps so far will be the player’s local and ship maps. According to Interwave giving the player objectives and actual guidance may be “anathema to the purest Metroid canon” but are necessary as they currently serve both as guides towards interesting areas that the player may or may not be pondering whether to explore, and as markers for advancing the story.
Interwave says that they are building Dark Matter is as open as they can make it. You will be free to not pick up any weapons, not even the initial pistol (even though you won’t make it past the corner where the weapon is found) and that the first basic weapons (Shotgun and Assault Rifle), along with the first nano ammo blueprint (incendiary ammo) are marked by objectives. The rest (all ammo blueprints, all weapon upgrade blueprints, rocket launcher, grenade launcher, beam weapon) are left to you to find, should you wish to put the time into it.
“That, for us, is the true core of a Metroidvania game: there is a linear, fast path through the game, and then there is the meandering and backtracking that you’ll perform in order to unlock and power up all the weapons you need. We have made our objectives system a helping hand in getting started with all that”, they stated.
Interwave has also made changes in the game’s light system and as a result the the last light-driven aspects of enemy AI have been refined. “Enemies now are far more aware and aggressive in lit areas, and pull all kinds of anger-driven tricks on the player. Darkness is all of a sudden a safe place where enemies are less aware of your presence.. except you could be stepping on one and get mauled if you don’t use your flashlight. I suppose we should feel bad for creating such existence-tearing dilemmas in players, but it’s too much fun”.
Dark Matter is currently undergoing Greenlight admission, you can vote for it over here.