Derange #2: Tools of the Apocalypse

Welcome back to the Derange devblog, horror fans. It’s been quite a while since my last update (organising a wedding and then getting married has a way of eating up my spare time, it seems) but I’m finally back, bearing the latest portent’s from Derange‘s development. Last time, I talked about how Derange aims to translate the old school, Playstation 1 era survival horror experience to RPG Maker. This time, I’m going to elaborate on just how I’ve managed to emulate that experience, and the main features that make Derange subtly different from my previous survival horror games. Without any further delay, let’s get into it!

Inventory Management

On the surface, this is the biggest difference between Derange and my previous games, and the one singular feature which I decided from the very start had to absolutely, without compromise, be present in the game. Unlike in One Night and Mythos: The Beginning, in which you could hoard items to your heart’s content, your character in Derange can only carry 10 items at a time.

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Weapons, health items, ammunition and key items all take up a single item slot, requiring you to make tactical decisions about what you need to bring with you in any given situation and what you’re willing to leave behind. Surplus items can be stored in a Resident Evil style item box (usually present in save rooms and other strategic locations) and will be available for you to take later, but managing your inventory on a moment to moment basis will be a big part of the game – just like in the classics.

Limited Saves

In One Night and Mythos, you might remember how saving your progress was restricted to save points in specially designated rooms. This prevented the player from saving whenever they wanted, but provided you could make your way back to the save room you could basically save as many times as you liked. Whenever I’ve watched a Let’s Play or walkthrough of the One Night games, it’s been glaringly obvious to me that this system did little to inconvenience or tax the player in any considerable way.

Save

In Derange, you now require Blank Tapes to save your game, in yet another mechanic I’ve blatantly stolen from Resident Evil. Whenever you save, you’ll use up one of these precious items, so you’ll have to think twice about whether you really need to save the game at any given moment. Do you drop a save right now and risk not having a tape when you really need one, or do you press on and risk losing progress? That said, if you do manage to run out of Blank Tapes you won’t entirely be out of luck: you’ll still be prompted to save after major events in the game, such as completing the prologue or defeating a boss. Resident Evil essentially became impossible if you ever ran out of ink ribbons, but you’ll still have a lifeline in Derange.

Less Numbers

One thing I never really liked about the One Night games, but didn’t really have the skill to do any differently, was that it displayed the player’s health as an exact number of hit points (Mythos gets a pass here, since it’s an RPG). It was possible to determine exactly how much damage enemies dealt to you, and how many more hits you could afford to take before dying. You could effectively “min-max” your health and only use healing items when you knew you needed them. In the classic survival horror games, you never knew exactly how much health you had left, and it made the combat so much more tense.

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Likewise, Derange doesn’t show you an exact number. Instead, the status screen shows your character’s general condition: Unhurt, Bruised, Injured, Dying or Poisoned. Additionally, outside of the status menu, the screen will slowly fade to black and white as your health ticks down (yes – like a cover shooter, but at least this way you won’t have to constantly open the status screen to check your condition). This gives you a vague idea of how close to death you are, but doesn’t tell you exactly how much more damage you can take. When the status screen says “Dying” and you don’t know for sure whether the enemy around the corner will finish you off, exploration and combat are much scarier.

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And that’s all I have time to share for today. As you can see, we’ve managed to translate some of the main mechanics of traditional survival horror as closely as we can, while still trying to add a few small modern touches. I don’t often see these features among RPG Maker horror games (or the survival horror genre in general these days) but, being a purist, I feel they add so much more to the atmosphere of the game.

Next time, we’ll cover the combat system and Derange‘s dual protagonists. I’ll see you then!

About dgrixti

Indie game developer and writer. Founder of Dark Gaia Studios and creator of Legionwood, One Night and Mythos: The Beginning.
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