A setting that promises to blend reality with the extraordinary, an unflinching focus on puzzles, and the promise of numerous improvements over its often overlooked but solid predecessor- Dying: 1983 certainly seems to have the potential to be something unique and interesting. The upcoming first person puzzle game is currently in the works at indie studio NEKCOM, and to learn more about it and what players can expect from its setting, its puzzles, and its technical improvements, we recently sent across a few questions to its developers. You can read our conversation with NEKCOM CEO and Dying: 1983 creative director Luo Xiangyu below.
"The style of this game is similar to that of SCP Foundation, in which there are some fictional settings, but we also think over the scientific principles in it."
You’ve described Dying: 1983’s setting as a world close to reality, but different in many ways. Can you elaborate on that? Will the game be making use of surreal elements in storytelling?
The style of this game is similar to that of SCP Foundation, in which there are some fictional settings, but we also think over the scientific principles in it. Although I cannot reveal too much at this moment, I can tell you one of the important settings in advance.
The world that people perceive by their five senses is named the Perceived-World. The world exists in reality and cannot be perceived by human beings completely is called Real-World. Human beings live in the real world, but we can only catch and process a small fraction of information due to the limitation of our sensory capability. It is hard to imagine what the whole real world looks like with the limitation of the human body.
There is a research institute in the game dedicated to the research in this aspect.
When some senses are blocked, the left senses would be enhanced. For instance, the senses of hearing, smelling and touch would be enhanced in different degree when sight is blocked. Almost all ancient religions have the descriptions and records related to “breaking away from the dependence on body senses, you could perceive a wider world”.
However, the enhancement cannot be done overnight, it needs to accumulate over a long time. The institute in this game develops a certain potion that could enhance the senses in a short time by stimulating the brain. The degree and lasting time vary with different individuals. Some people would die from the overload stimulation on brain after using the potion.
The players in this game will have the opportunity to obtain such a potion, by which the players can enhance their senses and solve the puzzles.
How is Dying: 1983 approaching encounters with enemies, especially given its focus on puzzles? How do traps factor into the proceedings?
The gameplay mainly focuses on the puzzles. The game has some threats to contend with that can even kill the player. The treats most come from the enemies and traps.
Players could deal with the enemies with the gained items, for instance the pistol, water gun, bamboo dragonfly, and so on. However, the player is not good at fighting, so the player should better elude the threats.
The player could disarm the traps in advance with items, or enhance certain ability with the “senses enhancement” potion so that solve the enemies and traps much easier.
What can you tell us about the various items players will find throughout the game, how they will work within puzzles, and how much variety players can expect from them?
The items in the game are in great variety, besides some common tools (such as screwdriver, wrench, and etc.). There are a large number of mysterious items that are collected here and there by the institute in the game, for example a refrigerator leading to another space, a Dharma puppet going to enjoy the SPA secretly at night, a Tanuki statue with various foods appearing beside it, a mysterious ball without any poison, but would kill you by a lick, and so on…
Players would expect to encounter some novel things in the game, and you can use your best imagination on how to use them.
"The design of “senses enhancement” is really suited to the new features of the DualSense."
What’s your approach been to puzzle design in the game, especially when it comes to striking a balance between challenge and accessibility?
The puzzles are hardcore, but there are a large number of clues hiding in the game.
If you get stuck on the puzzles, you can enjoy the fun of solving them through careful analysis. If you feel it is too hard to solve, you can unlock the “secret file” with the gained coin in the game to get further clues of solving puzzles.
Plenty of coins in the game can be collected for free. We will not implement any in-game purchases.
Roughly how long will an average play through of Dying: 1983 be?
In accordance with the results of our internal testing, it is estimated to take about 12-15 hours for player to pass the game.
There’s plenty of content, and the size of the story may be a surprise for the players who love this genre of games.
What is the reason behind the timed exclusivity?
The design of “senses enhancement” is really suited to the new features of the DualSense. When we knew the controller of PS5 has some features that can enhance the interactive experience of the game, I target the game on the PS5 without any hesitation.
Seeing as Dying: 1983 is releasing first on PS5, what can you tell us about the ways the game will be leveraging the game’s more powerful hardware? For instance, are any of the puzzles designed to take advantage of the DualSense’s new features?
That’s right. We designed many puzzles combining with the new features of DualSense, and use these features as the core of many new puzzles. I should not give too many examples of the puzzles here, since I hope the players will experience the puzzles in the game by themselves.
Besides, the powerful performance of PS5 lets us make better graphics and audio, and the ray tracing makes the players immersed in the scene even further, which helps us a lot with expressing the atmosphere. As an original next-gen game, we are trying our best to implement the functions of the hardware, to make it feel like the experience cannot be done in current-gen game.
As a PS5 console exclusive, how can players expect the game to leverage the console’s unique capabilities? For instance, how will the haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and 3D audio come into play in the game?
We design the gameplay for the new features of the gamepad exclusively, which could make players immersed in the experience better. For instance, when the player uses the “senses enhancement” potion, the gamepad will shake slightly to replicate the feedback, so that the player may feels like his sense of touch is enhanced.
"We designed many puzzles combining with the new features of DualSense, and use these features as the core of many new puzzles."
The PS5’s SSD has been one of its biggest talking points- how has it impacted the game and the way you have designed the game?
The high speed of the SSD makes the game, from the title screen to the actual game scenes, load very smoothly. You even cannot feel the loading times.
It also boosts the gameplay considerably. For example, it makes player perceive the plot of Real-World instantly, as entering a new scene in a flash, the changes in the surroundings bring powerful visual impact to players. This is much better than the current-gen game experience with their long loading times.
Something else that the PS5 has is a Zen 2 CPU and a 10.28 TFLOPS GPU- how big of a leap is it over current-gen hardware in your view, and how is it going to help development?
Compared to the previous gen console, the performance of PS5 is significantly higher; meanwhile it also brings many improved functions. This is not only for the better resolution, but also the delicate details, realistic rendering, fluent FPS, 3D audio for precise positioning, and soon, all of these level functions will bring a better experience to players in visuals, audio, and gameplay.
I remember the amazing technical show of UE5 on PS5 half a year ago; I still feel surprised now when looking back on the show. Take the N virtual geometry system for instance, this truly shows what next-gen is about, and how new technology could impact the workflow and design approach of game development, and break away from the current traditional bounds. The sophisticated design of hardware, combined with improvements in software, is the core of next-gen.
Meanwhile, as an indie game studio, we are happy to see the tight cooperation between the platforms (PS/XBOX/NS) and the game engine provider. It provides us firm confidence in development; which will let us worry less and try new things more confidently.
What resolution and frame rate are you targeting? Furthermore, will the game have multiple graphical modes?
We are targeting 4K + ray tracing + 60FPS. Meanwhile, we are testing the 120FPS mode, but we cannot guarantee it will make it to the final release.
Lastly, what is the one feature that you are most excited about the game?
Certainly, it is the unique experience in “sense enhancement” and “sense deprivation”, combining with the fantastic items. I hope it will bring an amazing experience to the players.