The Companion | Studio 46 - Written Interview
We all Need a Good Indie Game
With so many major AAA titles on the way in the fall of 2020, it’s important to remember the indie game developers driving the industry with their unique and exciting titles. PM had the opportunity to speak with one of those developers, one-man team Studio 46, and discuss his upcoming title The Companion.
Built as a third person, narrative driven title, The Companion is set to debut in quarter one of 2021. We had the opportunity to get into the games story, environment, and in-game mechanics. Here’s PM’s interview with indie developer David Fazzio as we explore his upcoming game The Companion.
Exploring a Surreal World
1. What can you tell me about the story behind The Companion? Will it be open world, linear based or a combination of the two like Halo Infinite’s layout?
The game is definitely not Open World. There is a primary story being told and revealing the story is a major component of the game. Revealing the story is a hybrid of linear & non-linear. The story is broken into Acts and each Act has something to tell. Progressing through the Acts will be linear, however, within each Act you will have the choice to unravel the story in a nonlinear fashion.
2. Tell me about the spirit animal that players will be taking control of, can they expect any character customization or evolution as the game progresses?
In terms of appearance, no customization is planned. There will be additional actions your character gains access to. The goal is to keep the game very approachable. The game is not trying to test your button pushing ability. It's more about the discovery, story, immersion, and puzzle solving.
3. Given that The Companion is a narrative driven game, will players be guided along a predetermined path? Or will in game decisions play a major role in the games narrative direction?
This is definitely something I want to have happen, but I'll admit it may not be something that becomes a reality. One thing to keep in mind, and I try to advertise this whenever I can, is that this is a solo-developed game. Branching paths and multiple outcomes increases the workload exponentially. I will admit I've been testing some ability to make different decisions, but how that affects the ultimate outcome is yet to be seen.
4. Talk to me about the game environment and how it will impact your spirit animal? How many different unique landscapes will players encounter?
There are 6 locations planned. Each being its own Act and Level. There is a 7th level due to having a Night version of one location. This is seen in some material I've made public. It is intended that each location be unique in some way and memorable. You'll see with the most recent imagery that it strays wildly from the previous. I want the game to feel magical. If for whatever reason you aren't enjoying the story, I just hope the landscapes, and music, have made it worth your time to check out the game.
5. The Companion shares some similarities with 2019’s Spirit of the North, talk to me about what sets this game apart, and if any inspiration came from Infuse Studio’s title?
The biggest difference is that while they claim to have no dialog, my game is very narrative driven, and you will hopefully be invested in some of the other characters in this game. I would say the primary inspiration for this game is simply me wanting to be a storyteller, and also wanting to create games. I am just trying to do my own thing and see if people will enjoy it.
6. The games summary briefly mentions Spirit dust, what can you tell me about spirit dust starting with its impact on your character in game?
The intent of this is to have a resource in the game which can be a driver for guiding the character to specific locations and to be consumed to perform certain actions. I believe I'm calling it Spirit Essence now. I like to think that I have a unique take on how this will be consumed & used, fingers crossed. I know in video games, and most anything in general, you're never really doing anything for the first time.
7. With the games story being about 2 - 4 hours long, will the game have an rpg approach with a plethora of side quests, and hidden areas to explore along the way?
I very much want side objectives, puzzles, and achievements. So my current development strategy is to clearly finish the core story and make sure it works. After that I'll go back and try to add extra content. At this time I can't say to what extent this will be in and I will lean on my game testers to give me feedback as well. I do think there can be a downside with having too much fluff. It can start to muddy the story, confuse the player, and feel more like a chore having to find and collect everything. I want the game to flow nicely and be more of a relaxing stroll in the park.
8. Are the special gifts mentioned in the games description able to be upgraded with some kind of skills tree, and will more be unlocked as the game progresses?
So I think one of the major "special gifts" I have been advertising, and even posted a short video on Twitter, is that as the Spirit Companion you will have the ability to see visions of the Past, Present, and/or Future. "Special Gifts" mainly refers to this. There will be a couple other special "Spirit" type abilities you will unlock by playing. You will not upgrade or select anything from a skill tree as I feel those actions ruin the immersion of the game, however, one idea I'm exploring is to allow Spirit Essence to increase certain powers. So basically "upgraded" in a more natural way.
9. Will The Companion be strictly a PC game, or are there any plans to release it on other platforms such as next gen or current consoles?
I would love to do consoles if the game proves to be successful on PC but there's no way I can have a multi-platform launch right away. I'm focused on PC and I would need to lean on the expertise of others if I ever wanted a console port. However, I do keep it in mind when crafting the world and hopefully it wouldn't be a hard port if the time does come.
10. Are you considering any DLC content (skins, new story lines, seasonal content) following the games launch?
Everything hinges on how successful the game will be, but what I can say is that it would not be difficult to expand the story and the world if there is enough support for it. This game attempts to do a bit of world-building. It's not the main focus for this story being told but there is enough mystery to where it can be expanded. I have the option to do more Acts to expand the current story or completely new stories within the world that's been crafted. If the game is successful then anything is possible. But of course my primary goal is to focus on the current game and the story it wants to tell and to ensure there is a satisfying conclusion - still some mystery, but no cliffhangers.
The Road of the Spirit Animal Awaits!
David Fazzio’s Studio 46 is flexing every creative muscle with it’s upcoming title. With breathtaking environments, surreal characters, and a stunning soundtrack, The Companion certainly leaves a strong impression. There is no official word on an upcoming beta, however there is a good chance it may appear during Steam’s Spring Preview.
The Companion is currently slated to release in April of 2021, and should debut its first full length trailer in the coming months. Follow Studio 46 on twitter for more updates, Wishlist the game’s Steam page, and check out the titles official website for more to come. Check out some of the game’s footage below, and let us know what you think about the upcoming narrative driven adventure.