Centum Interview – Story, Inspirations, Art Style, and More

Hack the Publisher's head of studio Andrey Kiryushkin speaks about the developer's upcoming narrative adventure title.

Posted By | On 10th, Jul. 2024

Centum Interview – Story, Inspirations, Art Style, and More

With its promise of a narrative adventure experience and its instantly eye-catching retro art style, Centum has enough going as it is to grab attention, especially if this is a genre that usually appeals to you, but you add to that the game’s core hook of revolving around an unreliable narrator, and it becomes that much more of an intriguing prospect. Wanting to learn more about this upcoming mind-bending adventure title and what it’ll bring to the table, we recently reached out to its developers with some of our questions about it. Below, you can read our interview with Hack the Publisher’s head of studio Andrey Kiryushkin.

centum

"The visual concept began with sketches of the initial room and the “rat” character, establishing the game’s visual style characterized by grotesque imagery and a dark, cold aesthetic."

Centum boasts a gorgeous art style that instantly catches the eye. Can you tell us how you landed on this look for the game?

Centum is focused on its storyline, so the art department closely collaborated with the screenwriter. The goal was to emphasize the game’s originality and unconventional nature. The visual concept began with sketches of the initial room and the “rat” character, establishing the game’s visual style characterized by grotesque imagery and a dark, cold aesthetic. The art style drew inspiration from various sources, including well-known dark fantasy games like Dark Souls and Fear and Hunger, as well as The Golem, a novel written by Gustav Meyerink, and even dungeon synth albums. The art director maintained the style, while each artist added their personal touch to the project, bringing in their interesting visions and references. So collective creativity also allowed us to bring many interesting aspects into Centum’s look.

A narrative adventure game with an unreliable narrator- surprisingly we don’t see a lot of them. What prompted you to explore this storytelling technique, which has become popular in other media, but doesn’t seem to have caught on as much in games?

The reality of Centum is hostile to the characters for their own good—a paradox, indeed. It views the player as a character in the game, but the player doesn’t necessarily have to agree with it. Therefore, this narrative device seems the most appropriate for telling this story.

⁠In your opinion, why are unreliable narrators rare in video games?

Some of our greatest inspirations for Centum are games where the plot and narrative used this technique to some extent, from relatively unknown projects to widely acclaimed hits. It implies a somewhat greater involvement of the player in the narrative process, pushing them to act and resist the game world, essentially becoming a game within a game.

⁠What games would you say were your inspirations for this title? The Stanley Parable comes to mind as an obvious analog, but were there any others?

The Stanley Parable to some extent, and to some extent Doki Doki Literature Club. However, the main source of inspiration was the Cyberdreams1995 masterpiece I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.

centum

"The main source of inspiration was the Cyberdreams1995 masterpiece I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream."

Tell us about the dynamic dialog system. How does that work, and how much variation can players expect from it?

The dialogue system is not much different from those found in other games. However, it is self-aware of its own limitations. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes a completely non-obvious choice may appear. Here, we tried to create a part of a game that an artificial intelligence might create, not fully understanding what it is doing and how games of this genre should work. And this AI knows he’s terrible at his job. Of course, we tried not to cross the line where it stops being a narrative method and turns into an annoyingly poorly made game with bad dialogue.

How significantly will players’ actions impact the ending? How many different possible endings does the game have?

This is more a game about the illusion of choice. In the reality of Centum, all choices have long been made, and we are merely observing the consequences. The endings of the game are more about why these decisions were made rather than what consequences they led to. There are quite a few possible answers to this question, so despite there being five endings in the game, they can differ in various nuances across different playthroughs. The player’s decisions are crucial, even though the end is predetermined.

Roughly how long will an average playthrough of the game be?

You can expect about 8-10 hours.


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