With talk of the brilliant Anima Flux coming to home consoles, we caught up with the development team behind this couch co-op metroid-vania game ahead of it’s release on Steam…
What is your personal history in gaming leading up to this development?
We are a core team of 12 employees from Eastern Europe (mostly in the Republic of Moldova, partly in Romania), which is hosted by a local company. Also we have a US partner investing in the game and it will be published on behalf of a US company. We have been working on the game since January 2017 and the game is still in working progress but in the final stage of development. For the moment, we are polishing our levels, enemies and bosses.
We are truly in love with our job and projects and can’t wait for the world to see the results. Our designers and developers do their best to make lovable visuals and understandable control for every gamer. Also our marketing team works on distribution of information for all who are interested in the metroidvania universe. We are deeply flattered by every positive comment and support from people from all over the world who believe in us.
What made you decide on a metroidvania-style game?
We chose a metroidvania-style in 2019 because we were impressed with this kind of games after playing Hollow Knight. Moreover the metroidvania genre was popular at that time. Our team wanted to recall those childhood memories and share them with new generations.
Were there ideas for other genres or was there only one way to do it?
In the beginning the main goal was to create a graphic novel. Later we decided to move on towards puzzle platformer. During the work on our project we came up with the idea to create an interconnecting world, not just a side-scroller. Our metroidvania does not refuse volumetric elements in the gameplay – this makes Anima Flux more saturated and realistic.
Couch co-op really gives us a big slice of what we love about retro video games – was this the motivation?
We can say that nostalgia was our motivation. It all started with a desire to create an interactive retro sci-fi comic from the 80s and 90s. Later it was developed into a metroidvania with a deep storyline and crafted game lore.
We are all inspired by retro and old school games like The Lost Vikings, Trine, Another World. Old school platformers: Flashback, Battletoads, Contra.
Of course couch co-op is an essential element of retro video games and we can’t be 100% retro “metroid+castlevania” without it. But also it was the question of game design – in Anima Flux we have some quests and tasks that can only be completed by the combined forces of two characters.
Therefore we can talk about unique mechanics in our game. For sure you will be able to play the game solo – the second character will be running by AI and you could switch between them and choose archer or swordsman at any time. But it’s better to keep together, because playing alone in co-op mode is twice harder than playing in single player mode.
And we are working on an online co-op right now – so you will have fun with metroidvania-fans from all over the world. It’s 2023, not 1993, we recognize it.
The game is so atmospheric, is there any particular movie or other medium that inspired the style and design?
“Alien” and “Aliens” by Ridley Scott and James Cameron, “Blade Runner”, “Ghost in the Shell”, “Akira”. You can find references with many “dystopian sci-fi world” movies. One of the reviewers mentioned that the artistic concept of the regular soldiers and the mutants reminds “Starship Troopers”. We didn’t even consider this move like a source of inspiration, but users drew parallels like this.
Who has provided the soundtrack?
Our tracks are composed by one of our team’s members. We are planning to add a soundtrack to SoundCloud and other resources so players could enjoy it.
Are there any plans for a sequel?
If the game succeeds, we are ready to take over the sequel – we have enough lore and arts to create another exciting story in the world of Anima Flux.
What else do you have in the pipeline?
Nowadays we’re working on the cut scenes, sound design, and polishing the Anima Flux. We are fully involved in the current version, preparing it for release. After that we can talk about our future projects more specifically.
Would you consider developing for VR – is this the future of gaming?
“Half Life Alyx” showed us that VR could allow players to feel a new experience and deeper immersion in exploring game levels. But such titles are quite expensive and difficult to produce. We doubt that 2D platformers and indie games need VR widespread, like old black-and-white movies don’t need colorization and 3D-conversion. We love them for retro style, not for innovations. But we are ready to experiment with other genres to create great VR-games.
LETS GET PHYSICAL
With this being such a celebration of retrogaming, will there be plans to release a physical version to preserve its legacy? And would a port to a legacy console ever be possible?
It depends on the publisher. We are considering several proposals, among which was the opportunity to release physical copies. Undoubtedly, it will be an important and symbolic step that fits into our concept of being truly retro in each area. After the release on PS, Xbox and Switch we may take a look at old consoles, like Sega or Dendy. We suppose our team will have to have new members to realize such a task. This is quite a challenge for developers, but how cool it can turn out!