I’ve always wanted to develop a game that is heavily-story based, but I’ve always waited to do it until I had a story I really want to tell; something personal and different. Problem is, I can’t just decide to come up with such a story whenever I want. It’s an unusual and mysterious process and it kind of just… happens. Knytt Underground is the result of this process. Oh, and it’s also a pretty sweet exploration platform game.
Knytt Underground tells a quirky and strange tale that connects to various things in my own life. It’s set in the future, hundreds of years after the humans disappeared from the planet. Sprites, fairies and various other lifeforms roam tunnels underground. They are curious about their origin and the meaning of life, and to find those answers they try to understand the ones who had obviously figured it out: the humans.
One organization is devoted to understanding our science and language. They have successfully decoded that the letter J symbolizes a hook and O the full moon. Another group tries to combine the truths of our different religions. I mean, what if they’re all right — at the same time?
All mixed up in this is our protagonist Mi Sprocket, a sprite chosen to perform a religious ritual that supposedly saves the world. Odds are it’s superstitious nonsense…but you never know, right? Mi is joined by two fairies; Dora (who tries to find some truth in everything) and Cilia (who thinks people are stupid). Together they must travel the underground to complete the ritual, even though it’s very uncertain what they will actually accomplish — if anything at all.
Knytt Underground really tries to make a point, but I’m not sure what that point is.
When I designed Knytt Underground, I wanted to come up with a minimal number of mechanics that would allow lots of complex moves and interesting puzzles. By combining a very accurate platform character with a fast-paced bouncing ball and letting the player morph between the two forms at any time, the game got its very simple, yet deep controls. Each form also have some temporary powers like a grappling hook or the ability to fly a small distance. Chaining these different abilities in a single move feels super sweet.
Following the tradition of the previous Knytt games, a lot of the areas in Knytt Underground do not have enemies or dangers. Most of the world is designed to simply be a beautiful place where I hope the player wants to be. Despite the game’s huge world, each area has its own looks, music and atmosphere (which is why the level design alone took a year).
So why PS3 and PS Vita? The question for me when I was offered to work with Green Hill and Ripstone was more “Why not?” rather than “Why?”. Getting out on a new console means I can reach more people with my games. Besides, Knytt Underground is the type of game that plays best on a gamepad, so there’s no reason not to have it on a console.
In addition, the times I’ve talked to the people at PlayStation, they have been super supportive. They also made a very nice impression at GamesCom; where 90% of all other games at the conference were the average AAA games about stereotypical males killing other males with guns or swords, almost every different and interesting game I found was in the Sony section. I hope they continue to support those kind of game projects.
Look for Knytt Underground to hit PSN today for $14.99, which includes both the PS3 and PS Vita versions.