Erwan LeCun, co-founder Ape Tribe Games, speaks with GamingBolt about the upcoming cyberpunk RPG.
Non-linear levels, a mix of stealth and violent combat in vein of Hotline Miami, a slick cyberpunk setting, crisp pixel art visuals, a progression system that encourages player choice, and a story that reacts to decisions- on paper, Ape Tribe Games’ upcoming RPG Disjunction promises so many interesting things, it’s hard not to be curious about the game and how it’s shaping up to be. That curiosity recently drove us to send across some of our most burning questions about Disjunction to the developers- you can read our conversation with Ape Tribe Games co-founder Erwan LeCun below.
"We really didn’t want to force players one way or the other, and the game lets you customize your characters for whichever playstyle you prefer."
How divergent can Disjunction’s branching storylines be in terms of the choices players make? Are we looking at completely different ways the story could end for all of its main characters?
Just like the old RPGs that we’re inspired by, Disjunction features a whole bunch of different endings based on the choices that players make. Each of the three playable characters in Disjunction will have their own specific endings, and the main story arc of the game will also change significantly depending on how the choices the player has made throughout the game. We definitely wanted to make the player feel like their choices mattered and had realistic consequences.
Does Disjunction encourage players to approach situations stealthily, or are stealth and combat both equally viable options?
Both stealth and combat are completely viable gameplay options in Disjunction. We really didn’t want to force players one way or the other, and the game lets you customize your characters for whichever playstyle you prefer. Of course, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going in guns blazing every time without a backup plan.
Can players stealth through boss fights as well?
We actually decided early on that Disjunction wasn’t going to feature boss fights, specifically because it would break the design philosophy of both stealth and combat being purely optional mechanics. In lieu of boss fights, we just have a few extra hard levels!
Does Disjunction allow pacifist run playthroughs?
How in-depth are Disjunction’s progression mechanics, given that the game allows players to approach situations in a variety of ways?
Each of the three playable characters in Disjunction have four unique character abilities. In terms of progression, there is an Upgrade Tree for each character that allows players to choose between one of two upgrades for each of their unique character abilities. On top of that, there is a Talent Tree that gives passive benefits to things like sneaking capability, weapon effectiveness, and health boosts.
The progression system is deep, and definitely allows for players to play Disjunction however they want.
"The progression system is deep, and definitely allows for players to play Disjunction however they want."
Can you talk to us about how much Disjunction’s playable characters differ from each other in terms of mechanics and how they play?
Each character in Disjunction is suited for both stealthy and/or violent gameplay, but they definitely handle situations very differently from each other. For example, Joe has a shotgun and a Charge ability that lets him close distances with enemies very quickly. Spider, on the other hand, has a Holoprojector ability that lets her distract guards while she slips past them through the shadows.
The game doesn’t necessarily push you to be more violent with Joe than with Spider, though. Charge can be used to quickly dash behind cover to avoid being seen, while Holoprojector can be used to position guards to more easily mow them down with Spider’s SMG. It’s all a matter of how the player wants to approach situations.
Roughly how long is an average playthrough of Disjunction?
That’s a tough thing to estimate, since players can be either sneaky and methodical, or swift and violent. On average, I’d say a playthrough of Disjunction would take between six to eight hours. Keep in mind, the many different playstyles and endings make Disjunction a game you can play through multiple times.
With next-gen approaching, have you given any thought to bringing the game to the PS5 and Xbox Series X?
We’re currently only focused on current-gen consoles, but there’s nothing stopping us from going to next-gen in the future!
Will the game will feature Xbox One X and PS4 Pro-specific enhancements? Is 4K/60 FPS on the cards?
We have plans for 60fps, but 4K doesn’t add much to a pixel art game like ours.
How is the game running on the original Xbox One and PS4, in terms of frame rate and resolution?
1080p and 60fps.
What are the docked and undocked resolution and frame rate of the Switch version?
The docked resolution is 720p, and undocked is 1080p, running at 60fps.
"On average, I’d say a playthrough of Disjunction would take between six to eight hours. Keep in mind, the many different playstyles and endings make Disjunction a game you can play through multiple times."
There’s been a lot of talk of SSDs, which the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are both confirmed to feature. What’s the biggest impact it’s going to have on development, according to you?
The big thing for development is that SSDs will lead to shorter load/compile times, which will allow for faster iteration when making a game. I look forward to the day (in the pretty near future) where SSDs are ubiquitous.
Speaking of next-gen hardware, something else that the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are both going to have is a Zen 2 CPU- how big of a leap is it over current-gen hardware in your view, and how is it going to help development?
The benchmarks for the new CPU have it clocking in around three times more powerful than current-gen CPUs, which will lead to significant boosts in performance for most games. In terms of the development, it will allow us to make prettier games that run better.
The Xbox Series X also features GDDR6 memory- what’s the impact it will have on games in conjunction with the other advancements we’re going to see in next-gen consoles?
Memory is memory – more of it is always good, though for a lot of games it won’t necessarily make a noticeable difference. Memory has never been the main bottleneck of consoles in terms of performance, but it’s great to get more of it!
Backward compatibility is something else both new consoles are banking on quite heavily. How much of an impact do you think it will have from the perspective of both, developers and consumers?
Backward compatibility is a huge convenience for both consumers and developers. For indie developers who make low-system requirement games, it essentially means that we can develop for current-gen systems and not have to worry about a whole new port for next-gen consoles when they release.
What’s your take on the PS5’s haptic-enabled controller? Do you think it’s something that can significantly add to an experience, or is it just going to be a novelty?
The PS5’s haptic-enabled controller is definitely a cool feature, but I’m skeptical about whether most developers will specifically put in the effort to make their games use it. For games that launch on several systems, it can be hard work to target specific features on specific consoles if only a subset of your userbase will experience them.
"The big thing for development is that SSDs will lead to shorter load/compile times, which will allow for faster iteration when making a game. I look forward to the day (in the pretty near future) where SSDs are ubiquitous."
The Xbox One X features 12 TFLOPs of GPU. How will this impact video game graphics?
This is the most important upgrade that new consoles will have. GPUs make the biggest difference in the graphical quality of games, and the GPUs in next-gen consoles are significantly more powerful than current-gen ones. For AAA games, graphics will continue to improve.