Former developers from two of the biggest series in gaming are working together on a new genre-bending 2D game — and are asking you for help funding it.
To the Death is a side-scrolling beat-em-up/shoot-em-up hybrid for Steam (PC/Mac/Linux). The planned game, which launches its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter today, is under development by key members behind the Call of Duty and God of War franchises.
The new project’s team, which is hoping to raise $400,000, is led by industry veterans with blockbuster pedigrees. Todd Alderman, a former lead game designer at Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward and Respawn Entertainment, will head game design. Francesco Gigliotti, a former lead software engineer at Infinity Ward and Respawn Entertainment, will lead the engineering team. Cecil Kim, a concept artist for Sony Santa Monica’s God of War, God of War 2, and Ascension and visual development lead for God of War 3, will take charge of art direction. Alderman and Gigliotti were also both instrumental in the development Respawn’s highly anticipated Titanfall, which will release this year.
The game’s sound design team also carries some solid credentials: Formosa Interactive (credits on movies such as Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3, and Hellboy 2) and its soundtrack composer, Logan Mader, former guitarist of rock band Machine Head and producer of 30 albums by various other bands. One of Mader’s tracks is available on the fundraising page.
To the Death, which will release through Steam on PC, Mac, and Linux, actually has a lot in common with its spiritual predecessors. Its combat includes flowing sword attacks reminiscent of God of War protagonist Kratos’ notorious blades. On the Call of Duty side, the combat involves guns and constant fast-paced action, punctuated only by segments of an epic story. That’s right — if you’ve ever been playing God of War and wished you could just shoot those horrible harpies with a gun, To the Death might be for you. Likewise, if you’ve ever been in the middle of a Call of Duty session and wished you could start tearing your opponents to pieces with sword combos, it’s probably for you too.
The premise of To the Death is that two warriors have such a strong mutual vendetta that their feud continues beyond death in an underworld called The Crawl. During the single-player mode, control will alternate between the warriors as they fight their way through hordes of enemies while racing toward each other. As the story progresses, players will learn more about each fighter’s side of the rivalry and will be able to choose from three randomized upgrades every time they level up.
In a phone interview, Gigliotti gave GamesBeat some examples of these upgrades, which are in three categories (melee, gun, and defense). “You might have a gun ability that turns people into stone, and then you have a defense ability which can suck people into you, and then you can have a sword ability which does radius damage,” he said, “So then you can kinda combine all those three to do a combo.” He also revealed that at the end of the single-player game, the player must choose which character to embody and which character to slay.
In addition to the single-player mode, the team is planning an interesting split-screen local multiplayer mode. Two players will race toward each other, each able to observe everything their opponent does while always facing the inevitability of a final battle to the death. This mode sounds thrilling with its anticipation and strategic decision-making, and it reminds me of the creative split-screen modes from the days when online games didn’t exist yet. Its rivalry-building nature also sounds like the formula for many real-life vendettas.
The developers aim to turn their prototype into a full game by May 2015. According to the fundraising page, raising money through Kickstarter will enable the team to create To the Death without compromising its vision. If donors give more than the initial $400,000 goal, the campaign has stretch goals (which extend up to $1.4 million), such as adding leaderboards, adding PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita versions, expanding the combat and story, and implementing online multiplayer. A few stretch-goal slots are blank, suggesting that the team could add more.