PPeople looking for new Metroidvania games to play are spoiled for choice these days, but it’s the kind of genre where, no matter how crowded, if a promising new title pops up, you won’t can’t help but take note. Matt black studio LUCID looks like a game that belongs to this group. From its beautiful pixel art style to the unique way it approaches the structure of Metroidvania, to the way it seems to draw inspiration from things like metroid and dark souls to his universe, which seems to have the makings of a fascinating setting, there is a lot to be said LUCID it looks promising in these early stages. We recently spoke with game developer and Matte Black Studio founder Eric Manahan about the game and what players should expect from it in all of these areas and more. You can read the full interview below.
“I started doing pixel art and animation as a hobby, and then came a little game trailer for something called Super Light Wanderer. His wonderfully stylized new age pixel art pushed the medium to a place I had never seen before. So of course I started imitating him.”
LUCID sports a gorgeous art style that strongly evokes old-school sprite-based games. Can you tell us about the process of landing this aesthetic for the game?
My very first console was the SNES. My first game was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. From Mega Man X at Super Metroid, I grew up with it and I love pixel art. Fast forward to 2012 – I’m going to college to study architecture, and late one night in my studio, I discover the Iconoclasts demo online. I was blown away that this beautiful pixel art game was created by just one person! It introduced me to the world of indie game development.
I started doing pixel art and animation as a hobby, and then came a little game trailer for something called Super Light Wanderer. His wonderfully stylized new age pixel art pushed the medium to a place I had never seen before. So of course, I started to imitate him.
I continued to practice pixel art, but I also started to take a closer interest in animation. I was studying animations for a game called Duelysts and trying to match their fluidity and dynamics.
Over time, my own style began to emerge – an eclectic fusion of old and new, with a desire for smooth, punchy animation.
History and world-building seem to be an important part of the experience in LUCID. To what extent will the game emphasize these aspects of its experience?
LUCID will have a vibrant world filled to the brim with endearing characters, rich history, and deep lore. I developed the LUCID mythos and universe for almost a decade.and I can’t wait to share it with everyone! Ever since I was a kid, I had an affinity for creation myths, mythology, folklore, and Tolkien-style world-building. History is one of our oldest art forms and I couldn’t help but throw my hat in the ring!
As to how LUCID aims to deliver that story, I’m inspired by games like Dark Souls, Hollow Knightand Super Metroidwith a dash of The Legend of Zelda. The outline of the story will be part of the immediate game through cutscenes and events. But for truly curious souls who like to flesh out the world they inhabit, item and bestiary descriptions will help fill in the blanks, in addition to completing character side quests, talking with NPCs, and of course absorb environmental storytelling.
So LUCID will be less ambiguous and easier to digest than, say, a dark souls game, but will have a lot of nested content to be sought out by the player. I think developers need to be convinced enough that their game is fun and engaging enough that the player wants to seek out their most hidden content.
“I’m inspired by games like Dark Souls, Hollow Knightand Super Metroidwith a dash of The Legend of Zelda. The outline of the story will be part of the immediate play through cutscenes and events.”
LUCID the world looks very promising, even from a gameplay perspective. What should stakeholders expect from it in terms of size and environmental diversity?
LUCID was designed from the start with environmental variety in mind. After the prologue, players can choose to venture into one of five different biomes, from the arid wastelands of the Badlands to the wintery mountains of Onyx Ridge.
Environmental storytelling is an invaluable tool in any game developer’s toolkit.. LUCID aims to capitalize on every pixel it has to tell and advance its story.
As Metroidvania, what was your approach to design LUCID world, particularly in terms of interconnection?
It’s very important to me that the world feels completely seamless and interconnected. Everything from the enemies to the environment should feel like it belongs and makes sense in its context.
LUCID will have many secrets off the beaten path or hidden just out of reach, requiring special ability or Crystal Art, in classic Metroidvania fashion. This does not mean that a rollback, in the traditional sense, will be necessary. LUCID is played with player choice in mind. Similar to classic mega man games, the player can decide which stage or biome to tackle first. The player chooses where they want to go, which story to unravel, which problems to solve, in which order they want. As they do, they are sure to see a path just out of reach, and later remember that they now have the power to get there! But without too much spoiler, LUCID is constructed in a way that mitigates “backsliding” through storytelling.
LUCID promises tight, precise platforming and combat inspired by the classics. Can you say more about this and how it will develop throughout the experience as players gain more abilities?
Each of the abilities (Crystal Arts) the player acquires will not only improve combat, but expand mobility. As players become more comfortable using their abilities in tandem and swapping Crystal Arts on the fly, they will discover powerful combinations needed to conquer LUCID movement and platform.
What can you tell us about Crystal Arts and the impact they will have on the way the game is played? How will Crystal Arts differ from each other in terms of what they offer?
Each Crystal Art gives players new options both in and out of combat, and finding your favorite and upgrading their abilities through altars and with gear is one of the most important aspects of the game. LUCID. Each is completely unique in its mechanics and will offer a great amount of replayability, depending on which Arts you acquire and level up first. Some enemies and bosses are easier to take down with the right Crystal Art for the job. It’s not a “deal 2x damage” scenario, but rather “that crawling ceiling boss seems to want a crystal spear in the eye”.
“LUCID will have many secrets off the beaten path or hidden just out of reach, requiring special ability or Crystal Art, in classic Metroidvania fashion. This does not mean that a rollback, in the traditional sense, will be necessary. LUCID is played with player choice in mind. Similar to classic mega man games, the player can decide which stage or biome to tackle first.”
What should players expect from the game when it comes to enemies and bosses, especially in terms of design and variety?
Creating a huge list of enemies is paramount; it’s the only way to really test players’ builds and mettle. There are dozens of enemy types in LUCID, each carefully placed and balanced for maximum effect. Players will learn both from experience and from their personal bestiaries how best to take down the enemies they face.
What was your approach to difficulty and accessibility in LUCID?
LUCID is designed to be easy to understand and difficult to master. There are no traditional difficulty options as such, although players learn that certain abilities, upgraded or combined, will significantly tone down the difficulty. Conversely, players can choose to only avail themselves of the bare minimum and challenge themselves to conquer LUCID at its most difficult.
Approximately how long will an average reading of LUCID be?
I’m aiming for a range close to hollow knightbut time will tell!