The definition to knowing who you are is determined by where you reside either that being through a group of people you associate with or a specified location you call home. And while you might make new friends or get a new change of scenery, you always return to what you know first: and that is exactly what happens in Studio Fizbin’s Minute of Islands.
In this upcoming project from the German studio, you play the role of Mo as she goes on a journey amongst the surface of the archipelago she once lived on before her decision to live under the enclave of islands. Initially living on these islands early in her life, Mo soon found an interest in the giants that occupy the underground beneath the face of the Earth and migrates below to live with the larger beings. However, after years of living under the Earth’s crust, a spore has emerged that pollutes the breathable air for the giants and our protagonist is the only one able to repair the generators on the surface.
Which kicks off my demo for the game at the exposition of the story, Mo is challenged with a handful of puzzles and obstacles in her way from repairing the machines that cleanse the air from the emerging spore’s pollutant. While playing, I found prompts that initiated Mo to reflect on certain segments of the island that added more context to game’s mysterious setting as well as teaching about the character we would not have learned if overlooking.
One characteristic that truly defines this game in specifics is the engine being used and game’s overall art direction. Speaking with Game Director Anjin Anhut at PAX West during the beginning of the month, he shares that the comic book design for the game is all hand drawn even before the respected part of the game is created. So no assets or animation; the illustrations are an overlay and the studio then goes to work when said pictures are drawn and colored.
“It’s a graphic adventure that is then being developed into a puzzle platformer,” Anhut explains to me. This process that the title takes is derived from the Art Director Tim Gaedke who’s worked on webcomic series like 2013’s Mondo. Gaedke alongside the team that creates the game’s world use this method to fully capture their image for the game before handing it over to be coded into the final product.
Looking towards the overall gameplay, Mo is equipped with the Omni Switch which she uses, for my sake of the demo, to assist towards the generators location alongside use in powering the same downed machines. Expanding on the game beyond my time playing, Anhut explains that the core game aspects evolve when progressing more into the story. Explaining that transitioning between the islands above to the caverns below will differentiate in both the terrain along with what gameplay offers to the player.
Although new hurdles will be thrown at the player, Anhut does clarify that the difficulty will not be what throws players off when facing newer obstacles. Adding on, he says that the game is not intended to push those experiencing the title away as the studio wants to preserve your enjoyment when playing Minute of Islands. “The puzzles further into the game are not meant to be insanely hard – rather, just to make them [the player] think when progressing.”
The same change in gameplay is also applied to the soundtrack used for the game. While the first segment along with the game’s trailer presents a more harmonic and soothing score being introduced, the game does take some darker turns when learning more about the world you are playing in. The detailed design for the title leaps from the lush, overgrown tops of the islands to the dark cavity underneath which really shows its true form. And the sound design as well takes a sinister turn when coming upon some of the gloomy changes of pace in the game’s plot.
Minute of Islands is planned to release for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in Spring 2020. Feel free to wishlist the game by visiting its Steam page here.