Greek mythology is a common backdrop for games—from God of War to Kid Icarus and Age of Mythology—yet few games have ever touched on what is arguably the most important piece of Greek culture: their philosophers. But that all changes with Okhlos, a game about a charming philosopher rallying the people of Greece against their gods. I got in contact with designer and programmer Sebastian Gioseffi to discuss the game and its Greek mtyhology roots among other topics.
TechRaptor: What is Okhlos?
Sebastian: Okhlos is an upcoming PC game, where you play as a charismatic Greek philosopher trying to gather an enormous angry mob to start an uprising against the Olympian gods, destroying the Ancient Greece of legend and myth in the process.It takes elements from wargames and games like Pikmin but replaces the micromanagement aspects with beat‘em up style action and a pinch of Katamari Damacy, as well as adding mechanics from modern rogue-likes. The game's art-style combines 16-bit style pixel art character with fully interactive 3D environments, which tries to parallel the blend of classic arcade mechanics with modern ones.
TechRaptor: Where did you get the inspiration for Okhlos?
Sebastian: Even though we are console and PC players, our first project was a mobile game. It was a flop, and we ended up with no money and a game we weren't that interested in. So for our following project (which would end up being Okhlos) we decided to do something would enjoy both playing, and also making. At that time Roque, the artist, really wanted to draw lots of different characters so we started to think about what sort of game could feature a huge variety of characters. Soon the idea of a mob came to our minds. After that we tried to find a setting for the game. We both love Greek Mythology, and it is also a great source of all kind of different kinds of wondrous characters and stories, so it was a perfect fit.
From then on, we started working on finding a gameplay that would fit the idea of the mob. This was mostly a process of trial and error. Testing out different mechanics, taking in what worked, discarding what didn't, and then iterating. Along the way we mixed in some rogue-like mechanics, drawing inspiration in some of the best modern rogue-likes, such as Spelunky or The Binding of Isaac. We spent almost a year doing this until reaching the point where we are now, with a core mechanic that is both fun and conveys the chaos and mayhem of controlling an angry mob.
TechRaptor: In terms of Greek gods and monsters, how obscure are you going to get?
Sebastian: We aim to keep a balance between the most well known gods and monsters and the most obscure ones. All the big names are going to be in game, you will have the chance to test your might against Zeus, Poseidon, the Hydra or the centaurs. But you will also encounter a few enemies which are fairly obscure, like the Hosioi, the servants to Delphi's oracle. And, of course, there will be lots of enemies that fall somewhere in between. Creatures like Argos Panopte, the 100-eyed giant, or Talos, the bronze colossus, will surely be familiar to Greek mythology buffs, but may unknown to many others.
TechRaptor: Okhlos has champions, which sort of act like super units. What sort of champions will be seen once the game releases?
Sebastian: We have many champions already implemented in the game, and many more in the works. Midas, which can turn enemies he touches into gold, is one of our favorite ones. Pandora, who increases the amount of items you find inside crates but at the same time adds a chance that an enemy is spawned, is another one of our most beloved ones. Here, once again, we are trying to find a balance between the most popular names and the most obscure ones. Heracles, Achilles, Leonidas, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, they will all be in the game, but you will also find Erastosthenes, Gerana, Diotima, or Pygmalion. There will be a lot of the in game. At the moment we have almost one hundred champions, but we are eager to add many more.
It may also be worth mentioning that Okhlos features an in-game encyclopedia, where all the enemies, units and champions will have a short bio, so it will be a great chance to learn little bit about the most obscure characters (or read tons of jokes about the popular ones).
TechRaptor: What sort of interesting locations will players fight through in Okhlos?
Sebastian: Each level in Okhlos represents a different Greek city under the control of an Olympian god. Throughout the game the angry mob will travel through places like the volcano city Lemnos, the battlegrounds of Sparta, the sinking city of Atlantis (it hadn't finished sinking by the time the mob got to it), and of course, the imposing mount Olympus, where Zeus awaits at his throne. There will be eight locations in total, but each level is procedurally generated, so players will always encounter new scenarios in each playthrough.
TechRaptor: How tough is Okhlos going to be?
Sebastian: Okhlos is not a casual game, but at the same time, we don't it to be a masocore game. We are both hardcore gamers, and we want to make the kind of game we both enjoy playing, but this won't mean that you will need a phd, or spend ten thousand hours to master the game. So Okhlos won't be an impossible game, but be prepared for challenge (and getting your mob squashed by cyclops and harpies a few times).
TechRaptor: The game has a very interesting meld of pixel graphics and 3D models. Why did you choose this art style?
Sebastian: [On this one I am turning to Roque, who is the game's artist] From the start of the game I wanted to do something on pixel art, so that was the starting point. After that, when the we managed to pin down the mob mechanics, we reached the conclusion that it would be a better approach to have 3D backgrounds instead of 2D ones. I have always loved the mix between 2D and 3D, so it was a perfect opportunity.
TechRaptor: And finally, roughly when will we be playing Okhlos?
Sebastian: We still have a bit more work to do, but Okhlos will hopefully be out in the first few months of 2016. It will be released on Steam, and other major store fronts (like GoG and Humble Store), for PC/Mac/Linux.