7DRL Success - Beyond the Light (formerly Daybreak) - Can a roguelike be scary?

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Joe M

Mar 17, 2012, 7:43:40 PM3/17/12

Made a quick website to host it as I'm hoping to continue working on this.

Concept: Survival horror with less combat and more evasion/stealth/running in terror. Light/dark system is used to identity "visible" but unknown monsters lurking in the dark. Sound is used to build atmosphere and tip off the player to where unseen creatures are lurking. There's also a sanity system.

Had to go with a very crude level generator (basic BSP tree) to approximate a house layout. It's a short game, single level, which means the randomness can sometimes result in an easy win or a very hard start. Otherwise, I'm pretty happy with the results, especially for my first roguelike attempt.

If you try it, I'd love to hear feedback!


Mar 18, 2012, 12:08:10 AM3/18/12
I gave it a short try. It definitely goes in a different direction than most games I've played, let alone roguelikes, but that makes it really hard to give constructive criticism. For example, my first reflex is to say that I don't like the way items and monsters are indistinguishable most of the time, because it makes any course of action beyond hiding in a small room and waiting a treacherous and possibly unwise risk. On the other hand, that's well in keeping with the theme of the game, and if the game was totally predictable it wouldn't live up to its premise. There are a lot of mechanics in there that I feel are at odds like that, and I think making them really fit together well is going to be difficult, though potentially rewarding. I'm going to play more later and try and make some sense of it.

One simple issue I found is that you need to press 'd' twice to quit the game from the main menu under certain conditions, such as immediately after dying. I'd also like it if you could skip turn using the numberpad '5' key as well as with the period key.

Joe M

Mar 18, 2012, 1:32:00 AM3/18/12
Thanks for the heads up on the numpad bug. I don't have one on my keyboard to test with. I've uploaded a fixed version.

I definitely agree with your initial observations. I've always loved the horror genre but games tend to have a hard time finding a good balance in it. It can't be scary unless the player is weak and vulnerable, but it's hard to make that a fun proposition for the player. I figured a roguelike would be a good setting to experiment with that.

I'll be interested in hearing further thoughts if you do play more. I've found that aside from getting swamped in the beginning with an unlucky start, it's generally possible to take reasonable chances on what you're dealing with. Of course, that might just be me using dev knowledge!

I'd certainly like to empower the player more, if indirectly. A lot of that will come with better level generation (more places to hide) and maybe making stealth while in the dark FOV possible.

Geoffrey White

Mar 31, 2012, 3:28:26 AM3/31/12

I thought this game was very interesting, the way it keeps information
from the player at every opportunity definitely gives it a unique feel.
Though I think it overdoes it and feels a bit repetitive as a result -
when you don't have any matches you're essentially facing the same
monster (a '?') over and over.

I'd love to see these ideas refined and developed into a larger game
some day.

- Geoffrey

Geoffrey White

Apr 15, 2012, 1:52:27 PM4/15/12
> Though I think it overdoes it and feels a bit repetitive as a result -
> when you don't have any matches you're essentially facing the same
> monster (a '?') over and over.

Having played it some more I've actually changed my mind on this. After
a few games you begin to notice the clues to what the '?' monsters might
be - how they move, the occasional 'noises' they broadcast and so on.

- Geoffrey
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