I always love a chance to check out an atmospheric game. Usually when I think of them, I’m drawn to console and PC games that really draw me in with high quality graphics or moody artstyles. I don’t expect to see this in mobile games. However, that changed when I saw OrcPunk’s mobile title Into the Dark: Narakan at the Halloween Playcrafting Expo. A creepy strategy game with plenty of atmosphere to spare, I wanted to know more about it. Thankfully, I got chance to talk to director Adriano Valle about the game.
TechRaptor: So I just got to check out Into the Dark: Narakan and it’s really interesting. So why don’t you tell me a little bit about the game?
Adriano Valle: So the game is a adventure strategy game with some roguelike, Zelda-like, elements. It’s heavily inspired, obviously, by The Legend of Zelda and by Chess. The game’s strategy mechanics are derived from turn-based, tile-based, pattern-based attack kind of movements. Sort of how Chess pieces are sort of based on attacking, defined by a pattern, and then there is also a sort of mysterious kind of narrative. It’s a very atmospheric and dark and moody kind of game, with this sort of dark and slightly twisted narrative.
TechRaptor: I do agree it’s dark and twisted because when I played it, even thought it’s a mobile game, I though the atmosphere was really great and genuinely really creepy. So what went into designing all that?
Adriano: Um… So the biggest inspiration, or the initial inspiration for the game, comes from a song, actually, by The Cure called A Forest, and that song tells a story that is very like dark and nightmarish and sort of just twisted and I really wanted to capture that feel that I got from it, it’s my favorite song of theirs, and I really wanted to capture that sense. So I started coming up with this idea of this knight character lost in a woods, sort of amnesiac, not knowing who he is and being surrounded by all these nightmarish creatures that sort of represent fear and internal conflict with your own fear. So yeah, I dunno, I’ve been doing everything I can to highlight those things in one way or another, be it through the color pallet or the design of the characters or the direction of the sound design or the writing, etc. Just trying to make sure it all fits that purpose.
TechRaptor: And speaking of the writing, while I was playing through it, there’s a lot of cryptic messages, when you die there’s pretty crazy descriptions. The writing is pretty exceptional actually. How do you sit down and decide “alright next we’re going to write this out and this is the tone we’re going to go for”?
Adriano: Well so, I’m not the writer of the prose itself. I hired a good friend of mine, David Kuelz, I hired him because I worked with him before on a game that I worked on called AVARIAvs. I really enjoyed his style and his sort of dark prose. So we sat down and talked over the general story arc that I already had in mind and sort of my initial ideas for what the story was and what kind of tone I wanted for it. I had already written some kind of placeholder stuff that tried to set the tone of that, but I am not a writer by trade at all and so I thought the game would be much better served by having someone that does this professionally actually take a crack at it, and he’s done a really great job of taking what is my initial idea and the tone I wanted to strike and really delivering on it and taking it that extra level. I mean, you talked about those death descriptions? Those are gold. They’re so great. So graphic. But I don’t know, I felt in kind of a classy way too, I mean… I don’t know if you can say that but… [laughter.]
TechRaptor: Now as someone who has played AVARIAvs, I’m pretty excited for that game too.
Adriano: Yeah. Can’t wait.
TechRaptor: So, the game is called Into the Dark: Narakan. What’s the Narakan part?
Adriano: No comment.
TechRaptor: No comment? Okay. Do I have to play the game to find out?
Adriano: No. No you will not find out what it is. It’s nothing. It’s whatever you want it to be.
TechRaptor: It’s friendship?
Adriano: No. It’s darkness.
TechRaptor: It’s everything I want it to be…
Adriano: Except friendship.
TechRaptor: Alright, so, Into the Dark: Narakan. When can I play it?
Adriano: November 8th.
TechRaptor: November 8th. And it comes out on what?
Adriano: It comes out on iOS on November 8th, and shortly thereafter on Android.
TechRaptor: Alright, and is there any plans to put it on PC or any kind of consoles?
Adriano: Not yet, but I guess it’ll depend on how well it does on mobile platforms and if there’s any sort of request for it, or if anybody actually wants it to be on a PC platform. I do think it’d be a little tough, considering that we designed it as a vertical experience. It could still work as a horizontal experience but…
TechRaptor: It would take a lot of work to make it work?
Adriano: I don’t know if it’d take a lot of work, but it… I don’t know. I’m not sure it would be worth the work. I don’t know, but we have talked about it. Actually, it started as… initially it started as something I wanted to build for PCs, but then shifted to the mobile platform for its accessibility.
TechRaptor: Okay. Well thank you for taking the time to talk to me, the game is really cool and I’m glad I got to see it.
Adriano: Thank you so much Sam, I appreciate it.
We’d like to once again thank Adriano for taking the time to talk with us.