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Aaru’s Awakening Coming to PS4, PS3 This Summer

Johann Ingi Gudjonsson's Avatar + Posted by Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 30, 2014 // Marketing Director, Lumenox ehf

When Aaru’s Awakening started out as a school project at the University of Reykjavík, we wanted to create an original platformer. The genre is congested, so new ideas are essential. Inspired by the teleportation gun in Unreal Tournament, we came up with the idea of a teleportation themed platformer.

When the project moved from being a mere school project to winning the Icelandic Gaming Industry Game Creator competition — and thus giving us the funding to start a company around the game — we realized that we’d have to do something more than just rely on the teleportation mechanic. That’s when we decided to add the charging mechanic that would serve as a double jump and make certain objects breakable, as it would add fluidity to the game and allow for some intense in-air moments. We also knew that to really grab the attention of gamers we’d have to create an original art style, so the art director proposed we’d do it completely hand drawn.

When implementing the teleportation mechanic we were focused on having it deeply intertwined with the gameplay, not just having it as a gimmick. So we designed each level with the mechanic at heart. That’s why we create each level with puzzles and zones that can only be solved and reached with the help of the teleportation function.

Aaru's Awakening on PS4 and PS3Aaru's Awakening on PS4 and PS3

The protagonist simply shoots his soul out of his body and then teleports to that destination. This is done with the trigger and shoulder buttons, though we do invite people to set up the control scheme as they please. An example would be that you shoot the soul out with R1 and when you see the soul reach a desirable destination you press R2 to teleport to that location.

The charging ability was not part of our original prototype, but added afterwards to have a faster-paced platformer. We wanted to force the player to make a lot of split-second decisions and keep him on the edge of his seat throughout the experience. The ability — which allows the protagonist to dash a few feet through the air — can help players get a double jump, buy time in the air, and break certain things like walls. One of the shoulder or trigger buttons are used for this ability as well.

With the traditional approach to visuals based heavily around line work, we were able to achieve a certain charm which gives the feeling that a real person was behind the art — especially since a lot of the line work allowed us to be quite rough and sketchy. 3D art work, for example, can become more mechanical (even though it looks awesome) and the connection between the viewer and the artist is often lost in translation.

Initially we wanted the whole game to be done on paper, but after our vertical slice we realized that with two artists we would be working 24/7 for the next decade. So in conclusion we wound up doing all the line work on paper and using watercolours for texture, but major coloring and touch ups were done digitally.

Aaru's Awakening on PS4 and PS3

Our aim with Aaru’s Awakening was always to do something new, something original,and something intuitive. After all, that’s exactly what indie games are all about. We’re not competing against AAA games, we’re offering something different and taking chances that big budget companies with shareholders are not capable of doing.

After two years of sleepless nights, we’re anxious to see if the risk will be rewarded and if people will enjoy our game. Aaru’s Awakening is coming this Summer and will launch simultaneously on PS4 and PS3. We’d love to hear from you guys in the comments, so tell us what you think and shoot us questions — I’ll make sure to answer!

//Add Your Own

40 Comments   13 Replies

1

+ Shin-Ra on May 30th, 2014 at 8:10 am said:

Looks great apart from a few times where it’s difficult to tell the background scenery and foreground obstacles apart.


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 30th, 2014 at 6:50 pm said:

    It might actually seem like that during the trailer, but we haven’t noticed any complaints about it during game tests. I think it might be easier to get a feel for it while you’re playing it yourself :)


2

+ l3uddha_0ne on May 30th, 2014 at 8:11 am said:

Looks Tasty :)


3

+ klassymike on May 30th, 2014 at 8:15 am said:

This looks like a pretty cool game. Glad you’re bringing it to both consoles.


4

+ PanTheMan16 on May 30th, 2014 at 8:17 am said:

Beautiful art style, but I agree that it’s too difficult to tell which is the foreground and which isn’t. Maybe some color adjustments would be good? Makes me think of Machinarium, which had the perfect balance. The developer wanted the interactive things to blend in with the world, but not become lost in it. When I was watching the trailer for Aaru’s Awakening, I would often think I was seeing a wall, or seeing free space, and it turned out to be the opposite.


5

+ Juelz345 on May 30th, 2014 at 8:20 am said:

This looks amazing.


6

+ PanTheMan16 on May 30th, 2014 at 8:25 am said:

In regards to my previous comment, I just want to say that I didn’t mean to sound critical. While some things were hard to discern in the trailer, that may not be the case at all when actually playing the game. It might be perfect. There are plenty of games I thought were amazing, but watching trailers would leave people wondering what was actually happening.


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 30th, 2014 at 6:52 pm said:

    No worries, getting critique is good for us! But like I responded here above, we haven’t received any complaints of the kind during game tests – so it might be easier to understand the levels while playing them yourself :)


7

+ Hayades on May 30th, 2014 at 8:26 am said:

Looks awesome and seems like the soundtrack will be perfect for the game. I did not have trouble seeing the difference between the background and foreground. Don’t know what people are talking about, the path was clear to me.


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 30th, 2014 at 6:53 pm said:

    Thanks! We got a really talented guy to take care of all the sound and music. We’ve actually been thinking of releasing the soundtracks for people if they’re interested.


8

+ italodancemp3 on May 30th, 2014 at 8:33 am said:

No Vita?

Hold on is it Sony’s official website? Then what’s wrong with you?

Sometimes I think here’s another website like Microsoft or …


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 30th, 2014 at 6:55 pm said:

    Nothing official yet. But the Vita has really good hardware, a crisp screen and controls that would fit Aaru’s Awakening really well. So although it’s not official we don’t see a reason not to port it over :)


9

+ DarknessTear on May 30th, 2014 at 8:42 am said:

Looks beautiful.


10

+ KaseiVallis on May 30th, 2014 at 8:43 am said:

Love the art style here.


11

+ JuggleMan on May 30th, 2014 at 9:06 am said:

Looks awesome! It reminds me of Lion King mixed with Velocity.


12

+ akibake on May 30th, 2014 at 9:37 am said:

The art is definitely the game seller here.


13

+ MakoSoul on May 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am said:

Wow, this looks very interesting. Definitely will pick this up for PS4.


14

+ MakoSoul on May 30th, 2014 at 11:02 am said:

Also, the music is AWESOME.


15

+ yowzagabowza on May 30th, 2014 at 11:19 am said:

Seems like velocity ultra the platformer. Do you just traverse the levels? And how is the direction of the soul shooting handled? It seems like a mouse would work best, but i dont have one of those on ps4. Maybe the touch pad somehow? Anyway, looms much betyer than most of the other indies we’ve been seeing.


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 30th, 2014 at 6:57 pm said:

    We all played the game at first with the mouse and keyboard – but lately we’ve all started to like it with the Dualshock better. The first few levels are designed to help you get a hang of the controls so you won’t need a keyboard :)


16

+ AlexGeorgeARG on May 30th, 2014 at 11:30 am said:

This is a day 1 buy for me, looks excelent and i’m loving the gameplay in that trailer. Last but not least, a big THANK YOU for supporting the PS3. Not everyone has a PS4 just yet :P


17

+ tusunami on May 30th, 2014 at 1:03 pm said:

Now this is the originality that i know developers are capable of. This title looks quite interesting and i will get this when its available first thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!


18

+ DeserttFoxx on May 30th, 2014 at 2:18 pm said:

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Another 2.5D Side scroll adventure for my HD “Next Gen” Console. I am so glad i bought a Super Ninte…. i mean PlayStation 4.


19

+ PhoenixDowny on May 30th, 2014 at 3:11 pm said:

Oh my FREAKING HECK! What’s wrong with Sony and these developers? Sony PS3 and PS4 are the only release platforms for Aaru’s Awakening???????? What about the Sony PS VITA? The system that is truly a game changer! It’s got a great HD OLED screen that makes games like Aaru’s Awakening standout and yet this game isn’t being released on it? At least the PSP had better video game developer support that was both FIRST PARTY and THIRD PARTY! What the heck is wrong with Sony and these developers? We, the fanbase own and support the PS Vita and want it to be successful but it seems as if the guys in the offices making decisions just want the PS Vita to die a slow and painful death!


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 30th, 2014 at 7:01 pm said:

    For now we’re releasing it for PS3 and PS4. However the Vita has kick-ass hardware and the controls are similar to the Dualshock, so we’d love to collaborate with Sony this summer to work on a Vita release. I think it would look great on that screen! :)


20

+ Rezolution77 on May 30th, 2014 at 4:32 pm said:

This game looks Alot like Fenix Rage.

Definately not Day 1, but a welcome addition.


21

+ Rezolution77 on May 30th, 2014 at 4:33 pm said:

Oh, and definately not unless it on Vita.


22

+ SeanStrange on May 30th, 2014 at 6:06 pm said:

Really like the art for this game. Will be sure to pick it up!


23

+ ZEHENRY on May 30th, 2014 at 6:41 pm said:

Vita please!!!


24

+ Skeetlejuice on May 30th, 2014 at 6:51 pm said:

The art and the music are very interesting. I think the game mechanic is a neat take on platforming but I worry It could end up being a bit of a one trick pony so I hope that you have some evolution to the gameplay as you play through.

Some of the linework was a bit hard to read at times but I am sure playing it won’t be a ploblem when you get a feel for it in motion.

I would be interested in this based on what I saw if it was Crossbuy for PS4 and Vita. I do not care about new games on PS3 at this point (unless it is only for ps3), I still have it and I appreciate that it’s being supported but it should not come at the expense of the 2 current platforms ie. PS4 and Vita.

If this is a 4-6 hr experience for 14.99 or more and just on PS4 I am going to have to wait for a sale. If you gave Crossbuy w Vita and a PS+ discount I would buy day 1 based on what I have seen.

Good luck with the game, will watch for more.


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25

+ Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 30th, 2014 at 7:03 pm said:

Thanks for the insight! We haven’t taken pricing decisions yet, but that’s definitely something we’ll have to think long and hard about.


26

+ TheBigSpoon on May 30th, 2014 at 7:37 pm said:

I got to play this at PAX East this year. Really cool game. I can’t wait for it!

I really enjoyed the mouse and keyboard controls, since there is a lot of precision in this game, how does that translate to analogue sticks?


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 31st, 2014 at 4:09 am said:

    Surprisingly well! Actually, some of us at the office now use the controller on the PC as well because we prefer it. I guess it comes down to if you’re a console guy or a PC guy. Glad you liked the game!


27

+ wilfareus on May 30th, 2014 at 9:13 pm said:

no love for Vita?


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 31st, 2014 at 4:11 am said:

    Lots of love for the Vita, awesome system! No reason not to bring it over at the moment, but we can’t say for sure.


28

+ spacemonkeyham on May 31st, 2014 at 6:41 am said:

So is this an adventure, or is the whole point to finish the levels as fast and accurately as possible?


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 31st, 2014 at 9:29 am said:

    The game has a narrated story – we consider the game to be an adventure game and put a lot of energy in to that. But the levels are built in a way that it’s fun to try to beat your best time over and over again. Once you get really good at the game it’s enjoyable to revisit the levels and master them.


29

+ Borshay on May 31st, 2014 at 8:18 am said:

Thanks for being honest about a potential Vita version. Game looks really fun and I hope it turns into a big success for you.


30

+ CommandingTiger on May 31st, 2014 at 9:20 am said:

Another great game hits the mighty PS4.
Keep up the good work and I’ll keep buying your games.


31

+ xClayMeow on May 31st, 2014 at 1:54 pm said:

I normally consider the Vita as the absolute best platform for platformers, so really glad to hear you’re considering it. However, I do think you’re lying a bit about the DualShock being better than KBM because this is a PS Blog, so I’ll likely look out for the Steam release instead.


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 31st, 2014 at 4:41 pm said:

    In all honesty I’ve been a console gamer my whole life. So for me personally and some of the other guys as well, we enjoy it better with a controller than KBM. The guys who are more accustomed to PC gaming do like their KBM setup better. In any case, I enjoy both and so do the other guys – both just take a little practice to get full control and the first few levels cater that :)


32

+ Hayades on May 31st, 2014 at 2:27 pm said:

You said in your response to me that you were thinking of releasing the soundtracks for people if they’re interested.. Well I am interested but only in hearing the full version of the song in your trailer and maybe another. It would be cool if you posted them on youtube or something. I wouldn’t want to hear more then that tho because i don’t want to spoil it before I play the game. Also in your trailer at the 41 second mark, what instrument did your guy use to make that melody? It’s hauntingly beautiful.


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 31st, 2014 at 4:43 pm said:

    Thanks! You might be right, it could be better to release the soundtracks we release the game. I’ll ask the sound guy about the instrument on Monday and let you know!


33

+ zenparadox1 on May 31st, 2014 at 3:18 pm said:

“We wanted to force the player to make a lot of split-second decisions and keep him on the edge of his seat throughout the experience”

This, along with the gameplay of the trailer is a bit of a turnoff. Here you have this beautiful aesthetic/art direction for the game but you base the gameplay off of timed split-second action which requires ultra concentration …basically tunnel vision.
I’d love to enjoy these artistic levels in a more exploration/relaxed platform approach. i know that is not the game you chose to develop, but I see it as a missed opportunity.


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    + Johann Ingi Gudjonsson on May 31st, 2014 at 4:47 pm said:

    I hear what you’re saying. It might be a smart idea to make a slower paced game sometime in the future, with this heavy art. However there are certain spots where you do get a breather and in the easier difficulty levels we are generous with checkpoints so you can look around as you please. We also hope to get players to play through the levels again after beating them and trying to best their time. In that case you’ll get a better chance to look around as you know your way around. But the game is a fast-paced action platformer and that’s something that we found to be most enjoyable.


34

+ PLZKLLME0080 on May 31st, 2014 at 3:36 pm said:

This looks like it would be fun on the Vita too!


35

+ Valyrious on May 31st, 2014 at 7:18 pm said:

Looks fantastic!
And please release the soundtrack!


36

+ xClayMeow on June 1st, 2014 at 2:28 pm said:

Thanks for the reply!

If you do wind up bringing it to Vita, hopefully there will be a demo so I can test out the controls.


37

+ Einhander138 on June 1st, 2014 at 6:48 pm said:

Is this going to have a physical release or is it PSN only?

No disc – no sale.


38

+ Einhander138 on June 2nd, 2014 at 9:03 am said:

I appreciate the honesty, but I’ll never, ever understand the desire to deliberately alienate potential customers and lose your company easy sales.


39

+ xClayMeow on June 2nd, 2014 at 11:58 am said:

@Einhander138, creating physical copies costs more money than simply placing it on PSN. I’ll never, ever understand why people don’t realize that. Would you pay $5 more for a physical copy?


40

+ Einhander138 on June 2nd, 2014 at 11:23 pm said:

@39 Would I pay more to have a physical copy I own? Yes. Yes I would.


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