Reset, a first person co-op puzzle game from Theory Interactive, has an unusual and exciting mechanic; you’ll have to travel back in time to co-operate with a previous version of yourself to complete its complex puzzles. But Reset will not just be about these tricky puzzles; it will also have a significant emphasis on story, atmosphere and immersion within its procedural generated island environment. We talked with Alpo Oksaharju – writer, artist and designer for Reset – about immersion, time-travel and developing for the single player market.
Reset is going to take an equal approach to narrative and puzzle solving. As a mech with the ability to travel in time, you will have scope to explore a game which is set an abandoned, and overgrown, city with a sophisticated procedural environment system, coupled with a high quality audio scape – an environment that “will make you just want to take it all in”. Talking with Oksaharju, it was clear that a major effort is being placed on generating the world to be realistic, live, and immersive. “The game world is one island, which has different kind of urban environments. And as a contrast to that, lots of forests.”, Oksaharju told us, with the procedural environment and weather system creating situations that invite the player to listen “to the raindrops hitting the mech, and looking at the sun setting in the horizon.”
It is this time travel mechanic that is, however, its most curious and – as we have seen from some of the pre-alpha footage – very accessible to grasp, aspect of the game. As Oksaharju explained, it’ll mean you “multiply yourself by first marking a place/time of re-entry in the game world and then proceeding to complete one part of the puzzle. You then reset (jump back in time) to the re-entry mark creating two separate co-existing timelines”. This will effectively mean that while it is a single player game, you’ll be multiplaying with yourself – explaining why the team have called it, a little tongue in cheek, a “co-op” game. Oksaharju points out that this gameplay style is going to appeal to more core gamers – “it’s not a casual game”. Difficulty ramps up fairly, with more advanced puzzles requiring “Multiple simultaneous timelines… to solve the more challenging puzzles.” Despite the focus on core gamers, “Reset is not a game that we want to be played with grinding teeth.”
Moreover, Reset has been designed from its inception as “a pure single player game”, appealing to the strengths and concerns of the medium. As Oksaharju explained, “to me gaming is a form of escapism. I have nothing against multiplayers […] but I really enjoy a game which transports me to another universe”. Reset aims to deliver precisely that intensity of narrative transportation.
But how do these puzzles fit into the game itself – into the island city and the storyline that the team have hinted at? Oksaharju explained that “the second big part of the game is putting things together”, using exploration as a mechanic to draw the narrative forward. It will present a narrative, “but not in your usual sense”. A non-directed movement in which the player “is in full control”, where “since it is an open world the player can totally explore and solve the puzzles as he/she sees fit”. How this gradually resolving narrative will relate to the abandoned city, and to the mech character themselves, is unclear but intriguing. More will be revealed about this aspect of the game “closer to the release”.
Producing the game as a two-person team through a crowd funded IndieGoGo campaign has presented its own challenges and opportunities, Oksaharju explaining that; “the campaign was an experience alright”, pointing out the snug fit between indie studios and crowd funding in that “it allows for the studios to stay indie and be in direct contact with the players”, offering an increasingly enticing and exciting blueprint for development in the future.
Oksaharju also revealed some final details and information about Reset, pointing out that while they are interested in platforms aside from PC, “we are dedicated to getting the game out on PC, our primary platform”. PC owners will be able to get their hands on Reset by the target release of Christmas 2014, with the team promising to “fight to make the date”. We can expect, in the near future, a “cinematic” trailer that will hopefully paint a wider picture of the narrative and the puzzles the player will encounter during the game.
Thanks to Alpo Oksaharju for taking the time to answer our questions. We will continue to keep you up to date with Reset as it moves closer to its Christmas 2014 release. While we can’t promise to teleport you forward in time, we will keep you as up to date as possible.