‘Chasing Aurora’ Preview – Catching Flight
One of the ten finalists at the first A MAZE. Indie Connect, Chasing Aurora was noted for its sumptuous artstyle and zen-like gameplay that attested to the dream of many: flight. It’s a 2D sidescrolling aerial action game in which you control a bird attempting to piece together the light beacon as the sun sets over the picturesque Alps for the last time. The setting of the game of course being a significant European landmark, possibly giving it a cultural significance which appealed to Indie Connect’s hope to see outstanding indie titles from around the globe, but in particular from Europe.
Chasing Aurora was available to play at Indie Connect but unfortunately this was a five month old build and contained a single multiplayer mode. In this, up to four players would battle it out to hold on to the light beacon which would dangle from their determined feather bodies. Apart from flying around attempting to get away from and dodge their opponents, who could snatch the beacon by mere contact, the player could fly the beacon into a flame which would cause it to catch fire and be used as a weapon too. Immediately upon playing Chasing Aurora you get the sense of just how simple it is. The only component of control the player need to occupy themselves with is which direction they are flying – no other buttons are needed to be pressed. Whether this will remain the same throughout the game’s single player is yet to be seen, but given that a playthrough shouldn’t last longer than five hours, you get the impression that the developers are keeping the game as simple as possible.
Clemens Scott, the lead artist at Broken Rules, affirmed the direction that they are taking the game, saying that they have been letting the game develop organically as time progresses but always ensuring that the feeling of flight is achieved. So to match this, Chasing Aurora looks to be a simple but highly pleasurable experience which should relax the player by the aesthetic choice alone, but also by its gentle gameplay. Most outstanding of the game’s features are its visual merits so we took the time to ask Clemens how he developed this stunning display, what we didn’t expect was such an elaborate story.
After a while of trying several different artstyles for Chasing Aurora, Clemens said that inspiration came to him one day when he let some anger out by kicking an old closet his grandmother owned. Once he had prevented the closet from collapsing, Clemens had to restore its contents back to their appropriate places, which led him to discover a bunch of old wooden boards. These boards had some form of pattern on them upon which Clemens began to draw and it was then that he stumbled across the visual style that Chasing Aurora was to take. After taking the boards into the office and showing the rest of the development team, they were just as pleased with what he came up with so he kept working on it until it reached the state you can see it in now.
If anything, Chasing Aurora‘s artstyle is a 2D origami look with bold colors, giving it a soft, papery kind of feel. Obviously, Broken Rules have a thing for papery visuals as their first game, And Yet It Moves, was etched out like a scrap book assortment. Focusing on Chasing Aurora‘s visuals though, they are quite remarkable in still images but really brighten your eyes when you see them in action (look to the trailer above), especially when combined with the game’s aural accompaniment. Inspiration for the music in the game came from the developers Austrian roots as they use a variety of traditional xylophones played with the fingers and string instruments played with sticks, as well as the usual plucks and strums.
Understandably, when questioned about the gameplay, Clemens informed us that the team is still working on it as they try to balance a slight challenge without losing the game’s sense of flow and chilled out feeling. As said previously, the game involves collecting the fragmented pieces of the light beacon. This sends the feathered protagonists across the many faces of the Alps and past its animal inhabitants, occasionally solving simple puzzles as well as being encouraged to explore to find hidden pieces. Some replayability could be found through finding all of the pieces but the hope is that the player will want to live that feeling of elegant flight over and over again.
The single player portion of Chasing Aurora has us lusting after it but the multiplayer doesn’t feel too necessary, nor that impressive. However, Clemens did point out that much more has been added to the old multiplayer build that we played at Indie Connect, so this section of the game may yet change our minds. Whatever the case, we still can’t wait to play Chasing Aurora sometime later in 2012. Thanks to the game’s bespoke engine we can look forward to it appearing on Windows, Mac and Linux, ports to mobile and consoles will be just as easy to pursue as well, so we’re told.
More information on Chasing Aurora can be found on the game’s official website.