The Souls genre has never been as big since the release of Elden Ring, and yet it feels like only a select few games are primed and ready to take advantage of the increased interest now surrounding the FromSoftware legend. The excitement around has subsided. Thymesia and Steelrising are two examples, and 2D title Moonscars looks set to be next.
To learn more about the debut project, we caught up with Black Mermaid leads Andrey Moroz (Game Designer), Stefan Semyonov (Art Director), and Alexandru Romanciuk (Lead Programmer) ahead of its PS5, PS4 launch on September 27, 2022.
Push Square: For those who don’t know, can you introduce Moonsuckers? What kind of game is it and what inspired you to make it?
Moonscars is a 2d non-linear Souls-like Metroidvania game. It focuses on combat with fast-paced, responsive gameplay and smooth animations, set in a grim, dark, graphic world.
As the team’s first game, what challenges did you face? Did you encounter any unexpected problems during development?
Being a newly formed team and the first game, we certainly faced many challenges. I think the biggest thing was that we didn’t properly account for time and iteration before we felt like we had a solid foundation to continue building on.
On the art side, the high-frame animations required a lot of work and were a difficult part to complete.
Looking back, it was a wild ride because it was our first game and we had to learn a lot on the go, but also because taking on such a project was too ambitious for our small team, considering , part of the Project for Better, we were three full-time people developing it.
The most impressive aspect of the game is probably its art style. How did you settle on this particular look, and did it go through many revisions?
Thank you! We didn’t really have many iterations on the style. Visually, we drew inspiration from the old masters of Dutch oil painting such as Rembrandt, who led us to create a world using a muted palette of dark grays, with accents of color. Early in development, we landed on some very stylized mockups, and these evolved to include more realistic proportions with a darker palette, which allowed us to become more efficient with the background painting process since we were a small team. also helped It remained largely the same for the rest of the development.
The “painterly” look, as it is often described, came from a passion for traditional oil painting, but also from our limitations – for most of the project we were one, sometimes two artists and could not afford to create many detailed assets. The final look resulted in an interesting and unique style that fans enjoyed.
The latest trailer for Moonscars also reveals some pretty awesome fight clips. How have you balanced enemy engagement? Do you expect the game to be as hard, easy, or somewhere in between as Dark Souls?
Every combat encounter in Moonscars is designed around three main ideas. First, the amount of enemies. We don’t use more than four at a time. Second, a level difficulty curve. For example, if the previous encounter was relatively difficult, the next encounter should be slightly easier. Third, world placement. This includes location features, geometry, environmental traps, etc.
In fact, our game is completely different from the combat of Souls games and often other enemies are engaged in combat. Still, we hope it’s a very tough nut to crack, in its own way.
Why should Push Square readers be excited to play Moonscars later this month?
For us, Moonscars is a labor of love, and we’re sure players won’t miss that feeling if they try our game. Also, this is a game from fans of the Souls games, for other fans. The genre isn’t just work for most of us, it’s our passion, so we hope Push Square readers who are also fans will have a great time with Moonsuckers.
What is your favorite FromSoftware title and why?
andrey: Bloodborne, Sekiro, Dark Souls 1 and 3. Each of them are unique and interesting in their own way.
Ștefan: My favorite would probably be Bloodborne, for its fast pace and how it encourages an aggressive style of play, as well as its gothic, Victorian-inspired setting.
Thanks to Andrey, Stefan and Alexandru for taking the time to answer our questions. Are you looking forward to Moonscars? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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