The action role-playing game Nightmarchers is adding a tropical twist to the end of the world. Developer Wyrmbyte crafted a postapocalyptic version of the Hawaiian island Oahu, incorporating local mythology in protagonist Kai’s quest to reclaim the land from evil gods. The game is raising funds on Fig, with an estimated PC launch coming this summer.
Wyrmbyte portrays Oahu after an event called the “Great Thunder” wracks the island. In the aftermath, people are struggling to survive as otherworldly spirits and raiders maraud the island. An old god named Kamapua’a leads the forces of evil, and the only one who can stop him is Kai, a descendant of shamans who can wield mystical powers.
“I have had a passion for postapocalyptic settings since seeing Mad Max and playing the original Wasteland and we thought what about doing a postapocalyptic game in paradise instead of a brown, dead world,” said Wyrmbyte’s president Scott Brown in an email to GamesBeat. “With Hawaii being one of our favorite places in the world, it seemed like a great fit. Then as we began learning more and more about the past of the island it just became a really strong story that we finally decided we should create.”
Despite the calamitous Great Thunder, Nightmarchers’s world features lush tropical flora. Wyrmbyte did research to try to closely replicate Oahu’s geography. It studied coastal erosion scans from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as maps of the island. It also built internal tools to analyze data that it got from the coastal scans.
“While we thought we might make the entire island playable, it’s just too big so we have instead focused in on parts that are unique and interesting to explore,” said Brown. “Starting from this data and using all the tools we have now built allows us to really quickly build large maps in [Unreal Engine].”
As for the inhabitants of the doomed Oahu, Wyrmbyte mixes real lore along with fictional elements. Kai will encounter folks who have different ideas about how to survive, as well as spirits and scientists who are trying to harness the power of the supernatural. His arsenal is a mix of magical “demigod” abilities — for instance, players can unlock the power to summon a small volcano — and high-tech weaponry, like a “wave condenser” gun that looks like it shoots energy blasts. And the developer based many of the creatures on Hawaiian mythology, including the titular Nightmarchers, which are ghostly warriors who protect the land.
“We went into this with being respectful to the mythology from the start,” said Brown. “We had this amazing conversation with a Kahuna from Oahu for hours listening to him talk about the past, issues we should avoid, and more. It was a really fun way to start building a lore that fit into something as amazing as Hawaiian culture. The surprising thing is that nobody else has done this.”