Canu Arts discusses its disturbing 3D platformer.
Horror games have diversified pretty heavily in the past few years. While the 90s and early 2000s saw Silent Hill and Resident Evil rule the roost, there have been more games that eschew violence and set-pieces in favour of more psychological torture. Case in point is Lithium: Inmate 39, a 3D platformer centered on a psychiatric patient trying to find out his true identity. Naturally, things are a little more complicated than that. GamingBolt spoke to developer Canu Arts about the title, which is currently available for PS4 and Steam.
"We were motivated just to increase the sense of claustrophobia and panic, the camera have strategically been placed to force the main character to confront his worst nightmares."
What inspired you to develop Lithium: Inmate 39 and explore the origins of its troubled protagonist?
We were inspired by the old classic horror games like Resident Evil 1 and 2, Silent Hill, besides other titles like Splatter House and Nightmares Creatures, but adapted to our budget which allows us to make basically a 3d platform game. The game has been written and directed by Marlon Cascante our creative director, who was based on a letter written by a psychiatric patient.
We’ve seen documents that players can discover throughout the campaign. How do these tie into the main story? Are there traditional cut scenes to propel narration or is the player left to their own devices?
These documents will allow the player to understand what will be faced later and how they should act to this and there are scenes at the beginning of each chapter that will lead you to your own conclusions.
What motivated you to stick with a fixed camera perspective for the gameplay? Even if it helps create awesome cinematic moments, was there ever any compromise to the gameplay in the process?
We were motivated just to increase the sense of claustrophobia and panic, the camera have strategically been placed to force the main character to confront his worst nightmares. But we have to say that in some parts the camera follows the character, lateral follow sometimes too.
What kinds of traps and puzzles can players expect? How do you balance sudden death situations to limit frustration while still keeping things challenging?
This game have many kinds of traps as chainsaws, guillotines, blades, hammers, static traps (as land mines and bear traps) and many many surprises. In order to keep things challenging the player will face traps that he must think what to do carefully and slowly and sometimes the player just need to be bold.
"The game has been created with a lot of passion and effort. We really hope you will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed the creative process."
The visual style is interesting in its use of shadows and tones but seems to be more dark fantasy in some places. What influences helped in designing the overall art style and the atmosphere?
This visual style has been influence by some stop motion films as “Vincent” by Tim Burton or Mary and Max by Adam Elliot (but a little bit more gore).
How important was sound design in a game like Lithium and how much work went into the same?
It is incredibly important, because many gore effects are based in how its sounds, ambiance and background music are important but the interaction with the traps and objects definitely increase the visual impact when it has a correct sound design and yes it takes a lot of work to find or create the right sounds.
Given the sheer range of horror titles that have released in the past few years, what is it about Lithium that sets it apart from the crowd?
We’ve really striven to create something entertaining and creatively designed, as original creatures, creative gameplay, unique story, and believe us; the game has been created with a lot of passion and effort. We really hope you will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed the creative process.
What is the average play length that players can expect? Will there be any collectibles and such that encourage further exploration through the story?
The average play length is about 10 hrs. for a regular player, there are some items that the character will need as oil cans for example that forces the player to do exploration.
"The game won´t be released on the Xbox One but it will be released on Steam at the same time than PS4."
“Additional DLC” has been promised for Lithium: Inmate 39. Will these be paid or available for free and what can be expected in terms of content?
Yes DLCs will be available, a female character with different abilities and a mini gore online game. Both of them will be paid.
Is the game going to release on the Xbox One? Is there a specific reason why the game is exclusive on the PS4?
The game won´t be released on the Xbox One but it will be released on Steam at the same time than PS4.
Is the game going to run at 1080p and 60fps on PS4?
Yes, the game has been optimized to run at 1080 and 60fps (most of the time).
With the PS4 Pro, Sony have increased the memory bandwidth a little bit, but they have kept the overall memory pool the same as it is on standard PS4 systems. Is this a fair trade off? Or do you foresee RAM becoming a bottleneck for game development as we move further on with this generation?
In our case, we don’t have to much to say about this but definitely for us it is better to create a game based on PS4 specifications and then port it to PC because of that.