Indie studio EightyEight Games is best known for frenetic mobile games like 10,000,000 and You Must Build a Boat — but Photographs shows a softer, more introspective side. It’s a puzzler that eschews the action role-playing game aspects of the previous two to explore five different short stories. It’s slated for release in 2018 for PC, iOS, and Android.
While 10,000,000 is all about busting through dungeons and fighting enemies using a hybrid puzzle-action mechanic, Photographs is quite the change of pace. EightyEight founder Luca Redwood said that he wanted to explore something “dark and tragic,” something the story hammers home.
“I feel like my niche is creating games that sit right on the line between casual and hardcore, so both parties can enjoy them,” said Redwood in an email to GamesBeat. “So I’m trying another way of reaching this end — it looks like a casual 3-star puzzle game, it plays like a casual 3-star puzzle game, but with a continuous narrative that gets under your skin.”
Each of the short stories explores a character, which is represented by a diorama that’s gradually filled in with each puzzle you solve. Redwood says the diorama also acts as a kind of bookmark, a visual representation of where you are in a story so you can always pick up and play later. All the levels feature puzzles utilize various mechanics, all of which tie in thematically. In one, you’re fitting pieces together to complete a picture. In another, you’re ricocheting objects off walls to try to reach another character.
“The game uses every tool in its box, and the puzzles are a major part of that,” said Redwood. “One example is a story about two people who are trying to stay together, but there is a wedge forming between them. The puzzles reflect that as you have to navigate around that issue.”
Redwood started EightyEight in 2011, and it’s mainly a one-person operation. Photographs is the first time he’s brought on partners for a project. He teamed up with Octavi Navarro, who creates pixel art under the moniker PixelsHuh and notably contributed artwork to Terrible Toybox’s Thimbleweed Park. And Ben Prunty, who’s previously composed music for the space roguelike FTL: Faster Than Light, is creating Photograph’s melancholy soundtrack.
“It’s a big, big change. In You Must Build A Boat, I did have a couple of people help with the music — but this is the first time I’ve seriously continuously collaborated with people for a project,” said Redwood. “It’s been a change for sure, but I wanted this game to be really special, and I didn’t think I could do it justice by myself, so I went and found the best people in the world for the job, thankfully they agreed.”
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