Felix the Reaper is out to end the lives of his unsuspecting victims, but he does so with style. On his way to setting up Final Destination-esque fates, he pirouettes, tiptoes, and leaps his way through the shadows. The 3D puzzle adventure is Danish indie studio Kong Orange‘s latest game, and it’s slated for a PC release sometime in 2018.
Though Felix is the face of death, he somehow exudes a certain charm. His handy Walkman accompanies him on his reaping missions from the Ministry of Death. To nail down his moves, Kong Orange consulted with professional dancers. It also worked with nine musical artists to compose tracks for Felix’s mixtape. The result is a depiction of death that’s cheeky, fun, and full of personality.
“Initially we wanted to portray Death, and it’s been that way all along during development even if we tried out different strategies along the way,” said Kong Orange’s designer and producer Esben Kjær Ravn in an email to GamesBeat. “We want to stay true to the playful and crazy portrayals of Death, that has followed him all the way through the past 1,000 years of art history. And the sets are also inspired by artists, e.g. [Pieter Bruegel the Elder] and [Hieronymus Bosch] most notably.”
“We wanted the dance to have something extra since we are doing the Danse Macabre after all,” said Ravn. “We love 3D animators, but it felt kind of right to try to bring the expertise of dancers into the mix, so we try to keep both parties free to do what they are best at. The dancers dance pretty freely, and they improvised a whole day, while we video taped them from two angles.”
Felix’s powers of self-expression aren’t his only abilities. He can manipulate the sun’s position, which is useful since he can only move in the shadows. A lot of the puzzles seem like they depend on figuring out how to traverse the map under cover while setting up traps for his victims. Kong Orange has said that it’s got over 20 story levels, along with bonus stages and achievements to unlock.
Though the puzzles are a main focus in the game, another part is romance. Felix falls in love with Betty, who works at the Ministry of Life. It’s what Ravn calls an “impossible love story,” because she lives in the light while he dwells in the shadow, and their purposes are at odds with one another.
“He’s in love with Betty The Maiden. Another of the core motifs of this genre is Death And The Maiden, and this is our jab at that,” said Ravn. “So Felix has convinced himself that dancing will win Betty’s heart once he meets her.”
Kong Orange is currently developing a few other titles, including the surreal mobile puzzler Chadwick House. In 2014, it released its first game, Heartbeats, a puzzle game with a graphic novel aesthetic.