After Us launches later this month on May 23rd. Ahead of the release, over at Piccolo Studio, the team wanted to take a moment and answer some questions we gathered from the community about the game. We can’t wait for you to experience this surrealistic exploration adventure game, so let’s find out a bit more from Alexis Corominas, Co-Game Director, and Jordi Ministral, Co-Game Director.
Do you have any tips for new players in After Us?
Alexis: Soak in the world. Don’t look at it like the type of game where you have to upgrade your skill tree or improve your character abilities, because we don’t do that. After Us is a game about exploring and thinking about what you’re seeing – and being moved by the environment, the main character, and the experiences you’re going to have.
What inspired you to tell the story of After Us and how does it compare to your studio’s first title, Arise: A Simple Story?
Alexis: Well, Arise a Simple Story was the tale of an old man looking back, and for After Us we wanted to change that, and we wanted to look ahead. Look ahead on what legacy we are leaving for our children, and even beyond that – for future generations, what kind of relationship we have with the environment and this planet.
What can you tell us about the protagonist, Gaia, and her abilities?
Alexis: Gaia is a small nymph who lives in the Ark. This is a game about desolation and hope and she is the light of the game, she is hope. We wanted to have this kind of very quick character, so she can run very fast while exploring the world. She also jumps very high, she has double-jumping, she can dodge in the air, and as we will see later on, she can use her heart for special abilities.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, the world of After Us seems tragic, yet beautiful. Was that your intention? Additionally, what were your inspirations while building the world?
Alexis: We wanted to create a very unique world that shows how humans interact with nature. It’s the world after us – the world after humans have destroyed everything, a world devoid of any life and full of concrete and steel. It has a layer of melancholy but we wanted to make it beautiful. We spent a lot of time creating the world and the right balance between a bleak world, but one that’s compelling visually.
What was the art process like designing the environments, Gaia, and the spirits?
Jordi: We start with high-level concepts like – like deciding this section of the world is about this concept, and figure out how to represent that visually. I don’t know about other companies, but I think maybe this is where we are slightly different – we don’t have design teams working on one part at a time, we have the animators, and the environment artists, and designers work at the same time, together. When designers are thinking about a puzzle, they need to have a sense of the layout and the artistic vision – we don’t want the puzzle to feel like a puzzle out of context.
Gaia not only can restore animal spirits, but she possesses the ability to regrow plant life. Tell us more about what this does and how it impacts gameplay?
Alexis: The player has an ability called “Burst of Life” – the ability to grow vegetation around Gaia. It can be used to deal with hazards, like in combat or removing patches of oil so you can clear the way, and there are even certain elements in the world that you can grow that will stay forever. We want the player to feel like they are impacting the world, not just by creating trees here and there but also because you are restoring spirits into the world.
What are the trophies going to be? Any difficulty/speedrun ones or just a straightforward list?
Jordi: The trophies are more of a straightforward list, like getting trophies for collecting all the animals in an area, or for growing a certain amount of trees. Trophies are probably one of the more conventional rewards we give to players in After Us.
It seems fans have really resonated seeing the dog spirit from the game, can you tell us more about how you picked which animals to include and do you have any stories about what inspired those?
Alexis: The weiner dog is the first animal vessel you will find in After Us. We wanted a small, domestic dog because it resonates a lot more that it’s a vulnerable animal, and it has a collar, so you know it was the animal of someone. For us, it’s like the last dog, and this corpse represents all the dogs.
Jordi: You will see that we have the deer, the shark, and they represent big families of animals.
Alexis: The shark is interesting because everybody would expect to be moved by the dog – but managing to move people by the shark – I think that was a bigger challenge. You are seeing the world through the eyes of Gaia, and she doesn’t have this human perception of animals. The dog and the shark are just the same: life-beings.
Without spoiling anything, which part of After Us do you think players will enjoy the most?
Alexis: The game has a lot of biomes, and sometimes the gameplay changes depending on them, so players may enjoy a specific area of the game. I think that people that really get into the loop of exploring the world and finding all the hidden spirits, as well as people that enjoy the emotional side of the game, are really going to enjoy After Us.
What message do you hope players will take away from the game?
Jordi: I hope that people finish the game and take away this message of hope. In the end, the only way to make the world a better place is to try.
Alexis: It’s not a message we want people to take away from this game, but a feeling.
Jordi: That’s a good point