October 25, 2013 7:20 PM | John Polson
Ecuadorian developer Freaky Creations has animated something special with its 2D twitch-adventure To Leave, an entry I found in the 2014 IGF line-up. A young boy named Harm has decided to leave his life behind using the Flying Door. Unfortunately, this door is so sensitive that one bump jolts the boy back to reality.
The concept art above conjures mixed feelings for me, as part of me would love to ride a magical flying door in a 3D realm. However, To Leave isn't your standard pixel art project. The world in HD looks wondrous already, and image of the boy desperately holding onto the flying door, trying to escape his rot, is already firmly etched in my mind.
I reached out to Jorge Blacio to ask him about the art and gameplay in To Leave. He says the art is based on the theme of the game, with a very abstract theme (the experience of leaving everything behind). "We use surreal artistic elements with imaginative elements that make you feel like you're in some kind of dream, maybe a nightmare? We leave that answer to the player."
Blow up this trailer below at 1080p to see the surreal environments so far:
Jorge says that To Leave does not reuse art between levels. Because the game is really challenging, it needed an artistic style that had enough detail so that the player wouldn't get bored when he has repeated a level often.
"For example, the fact that the borders of the walls 'kill' you, we made it necessary for our artists to create a style in which the contrast between foreground and background was really obvious for the player. Because of this needed contrast, alpha degradation effects were not a possibility, and this led to explore a high contrasting color palette. The results are what you see in our game.
"In other words, we use our art, as any other part of our game, to reinforce our theme."
Jorge says the inspiration of To Leave was at first based on a personal experience of the team's creative director. "But everyone on the team has built upon that experience, adding little personal experiences that reinforce the overall theme of leaving."
While the game looked gorgeous, I was worried the gameplay was nothing more than avoiding the walls. Jorge says the gameplay evolves after a few stages. "I really would like to elaborate more on them here, but I think it would spoil the experience and the metaphors that each one of them represent in the experience of leaving; it is best that you play it and make your own conclusions."
Players can begin making their own conclusions when To Leave releases in the second quarter of 2014. For now, check out more of the game on Freaky Creations' official website.