The stunning vistas and colorful creatures in Mulaka are born from the myths and folklore of the Tarahumara people in northwestern Mexico. But it was a challenge for indie developer Lienzo, since it only had an oral tradition to go on. It had to dream up all the designs while still remaining faithful to Tarahumara legend. Mulaka will launch in 2018 for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
The first episode of Lienzo’s behind-the-scenes video series explored who the Tarahumara are and why the studio was inspired to create a game around their culture. This second episode investigates the creative process of crafting a world from nothing more than just verbal stories passed through the community for generations.
“So we had to seek inspiration in who they are as people, in their colors, in their attire, in their ways of living,” said Lienzo’s art director Daniel Gutiérrez.
Lienzo built its visual interpretations on a few Tarahumara concepts. For instance, the culture traditionally believes that everything in nature has a soul. Humans have multiple souls — men have three, and women have four. Both of these details found their way into the game. One of the creatures in Mulaka is a floating rock that’s surrounded by a kind of spirit or aura. And when the eponymous hero is injured, one of his three souls is ripped from his body.
The studio couldn’t include all Tarahumara mythology into the game, but Lienzo cofounder and director Edgar Serrano says that it found other ways to include the bits that didn’t necessarily fit with the main story.
“The main legend is the cycle of the earth and how you have to gain the favor of the demigods to prevent it, but along the way there are [non-playable characters] and, I guess you could call them side quests, and collectibles,” said Serrano in a phone call with GamesBeat. “Through those collectibles and side quests and NPCs, we tell you about a lot of other myths and lore that we’ve sprinkled around because we didn’t want to leave it out of the game.”