Through The Darkness

Through the Darkness sends the player into a mysterious cavern. Immediately upon entering, the player is trapped by a cave-in, and the only way out is through the darkness.

It began as a strategy game about managing fuel and torches while avoiding darkness. I wanted the player to stay in the light, and initially the only thing keeping them there was the fear of falling into the pits and holes I scattered around the cave. This didn't seem like enough of a threat, though; nothing could really stop the player from wandering around in the darkness if they were okay with falling every now and then. I wanted the player to avoid entering the darkness even briefly, so I borrowed from Zork the notion of the grue. With grues inhabiting the cave, each step the player takes through unlit squares of the cave increments the grue threat gauge. When it hits the top, the player meets a grisly (and quite temporary) fate.

There still wasn't enough of a sense of growth, though, so later I expanded the game to include some basic RPG progression by adding colorful XP crystals strewn about the cave. These can be spent on upgrades to the player's abilities to make the traversal of the cave more fun. I also added a few more tricks and features, such as an automap and the ability to teleport to any previously-visited checkpoint.

I'm happy with the way the overall atmosphere of the cave turned out. Players seem intrigued enough and curious enough about the unknown to continue to the exit of the cave. On the other hand, I think I could have done more to reinforce the specific manner of throwing and retrieving torches that I wanted the player to discover. I was happy to keep the amount of in-game text low, so further experimentation would be necessary to achieve this. I do plan to fix some of the game's problems when I expand this game further, and I'd like to add more player abilities, and see what I can do with the third dimension.

Through the Darkness uses the Zero Engine. I used Adobe Photoshop to create the 2D assets and Autodesk Maya to create the 3D assets. I used jsr's FamiTracker to create the music and sound effects and Audacity to edit them.