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When the Light Dies » Project Update 2: Survival Mechanics & Our Take on the Survivors-Like

Welcome back, Survivors!

We are excited to bring you the second part of our project update series where we share the latest news on development as well as some behind-the-scenes insights from key members of the team!

Today we’ll be catching up with Harrison, Lead Producer at PQube, and Hugo, game designer and project manager at Electric Monkeys, who will be shedding some light on the game’s survival mechanics and how we have reinterpreted the Survivors-like formula in When the Light Dies. Join us as our experts answer some of your burning questions and get to know more about the game before it releases in late 2023!

  1. What makes When the Light Dies different from a traditional Survivors-like?

    Harrison: When the Light Dies has all the features you would expect from a Survivors-like – waves of enemies, roguelike progression, multiple weapons, and abilities – but with a survival spin. Players not only have to worry about their health and ability choices (plus the hordes of undead) but additional parameters such as temperature and sanity, which affect the game in multiple ways. All our systems work together, meaning there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. For this reason, the game is slower than the usual offence-driven Survivors-like, but players will have much more to be aware of. And – as the name suggests – light is an important factor. Enemies are more powerful in the dark, and the player’s sanity will drop if their light source runs out. Keeping a light source going – whether through the environment or abilities – is critical. When the light dies, you’re in a world of trouble!

    Hugo: When the Light Dies is not only a Survivors-like, but also a survival game. It puts the players in two distinct situations: the imminent danger of creatures and the oppressive weight of the hazardous environment. To deal with creatures, players will choose their weapon of preference, and upgrade not only the character but the weapon stats as well. However, manmade weapons and natural talent won’t be enough, and during their fight they will have to corrupt themselves by learning forbidden abilities to fight evil with their own power. A trusty weapon will help players to defeat strong enemies, but it won’t help an insane character who is cold, hungry and tired. Although scarce, players must scavenge boxes and chests to find survival resources like food and beverages for their physical needs, and books to maintain their mental state.

  2. How did we decide on which survival parameters the player has to manage?

    Harrison: The grimdark 19th century theme came first, followed by the location and setting, and once we had decided upon that, survival mechanics such as hunger, stamina, and temperature just made sense as a progression to the usual Survivors formula. The release of ZERO Sievert was also an inspiration, as the tone and slow pace of the game, in addition to the edge-of-the-seat survival elements, inspired some of our ideation stages. Short answer, I was playing lots of Survivors-likes and lots of survival games, so I guess that’s where my mind was at.

    Hugo: As a Lovecraftian-inspired game, sanity is what drives the character through the darkness safely, we couldn’t ignore the effects of this environment on our characters. Ultimately, an insane character will make enemies stronger. In order to get back to reality, the character must be in touch with their humanity by reading ordinary books and always staying near a light source. When a character is fighting for their life, every resource is useful to survive. Even stamina which is used to perform physical actions like running and scavenging can be used to activate skills and abilities. Every stat plays a role in helping the player through the game, but not taking care of your character will make these resources a hindrance instead of a help. 

  3. How do these survival mechanics function in-game?

    Harrison: I don’t think I have enough space to detail each mechanic, but in summarised form:

    • Stamina affects running, scavenging, and shooting heavy weapons. Low stamina means worse firing accuracy and the inability to run.
    • Temperature affects movement speed, reload time, and scavenging.
    • Light affects sanity, reading speed, and buffs enemies in the darkness.
    • Lastly, sanity – our most interesting stat – increases enemy spawn rate and speed, but it’s also consumed like mana to use dark magic abilities.

    This is only scratching the surface of how the mechanics work together, but players are free to pause the game at any time and hover over parameters or icons to see helpful tooltips.

Stay tuned for more updates on When the Light Dies and don’t forget to wishlist the game before it launches on Steam later this year!

PQube & Electric Monkeys