When it comes to horror genre’s I’d hate to make myself look like a wuss. But I hate to say it, horror genre really isn’t my thing. Sure I get a kick out of watching someone play through horror games, and laugh at their reactions. But I’m completely and utterly scared to the point I would literally turn off the game and never touch it again. Just my type of mindset, but I tried my best to get through the indie title Rail Theory by Tryconic Studios, and here’s how it went.
You start off with a short cutscene that pans around what seems to be a small abandoned village post-apocalypse. As many other articles, I’ve written for EAG, I can’t stress enough how amazingly well developers polish the alpha demos. You take control of the main character, it shows some simple onscreen instructions for how to play then you jump right in.
Horror Survival Done Right
With any other game, I always start off exploring my surroundings and finding collectibles. Though most of the stuff I’d find here help keep you alive such as; Ammo, Health Packs, and Repair packs. You also start off with three weapons, a pistol, a shotgun and, the “Foyl Dredge”. A weapon that is designed to be a melee/ranged weapon. It also changes on how you use it depending on which enemy you’re in combat with. You then come into your first encounter with an enemy.
Very clever design and introduction, it's a burnt skeleton-like creature that pulls a horn off of its head to use as a weapon. One simple charge of your pistol and you can easily take him down. Coming into an encounter with other enemies I’ve tried to use all three weapons and found them very easy to control. Though I would recommend working a little bit on the blade-like weapon as it feels kind of odd when using it.
I didn’t notice until a little bit into the game that you actually have to keep an eye on things that affect your health. You have three things to look out for; your stamina, health (of course), and a cool little effect called “Trauma”. Having this effect will cause your stamina to decrease a steady pace, as well as cause your health to go down a little.
Exploring around the village and progressing through the demo gave me a great overview of how each feature played a big role in the game. These features being; randomized enemy components, such as seeing how an enemy will attack or defend itself against the player. The dynamic difficulty, now this one I found very cool. The game reads the player’s stats and basically changes the difficulty on the go.
So if you’re a laid back player who is bad at aiming, and defending yourself, the game will know when to lower the difficulty of enemies. Vice versa for hardcore gamers. Last but not least, cause and effect environments, depending on how you complete an area within the game such as the village, and moving on to the next area will depict what happens due to your actions.
I feel that Tryconic Studios did a great job crafting this alpha demo. The atmosphere of the game really gave me chills. The music adapts to your environment adding more immersion to the game. Rail Theory is well put together. I’m glad I had the opportunity to try out the alpha demo.
Although their recent Kickstarter was unsuccessful you can still support Tryconic Studios with their project Rail Theory and check out the alpha demo on their website!
In addition, we’ve also been able to reach out to the developers for an interview and here’s how it went;[Dave]: "What inspired this project?/How did it start?" [Tryconic Studios]: "Rail Theory started out as a project my brother and I were working on as a hobby. We really enjoyed the process of game development and decided to try to make a full demo of a game that would serve as a proof of concept for a game we could work on full time. A lot of this projects inspiration comes from Resident Evil 4, especially related to combat." [Dave]: "What difficulties were faced during the development of this project?" [Tryconic Studios]: "I’d say that our small team size was definitely one of the challenges of developing this demo. Since it was just me and my brother, we each had a lot of individual tasks we had to perform. The other main difficulty was the steep learning curve of creating a 3rd person shooter as our first project. In the end, we ended up learning a lot from the challenges we faced." [Dave]: "Are there any features that were planned but scrapped?" [Tryconic Studios]: "It’s hard to say if there were any scrapped features because the demo was such an early proof of concept for the game. Although, we did have systems for grenades made but we never put them in the final demo due to time constraints."
The Future and Advice[Dave]: "What are the future plans for this project?" [Tryconic Studios]: "As we switch to part time development, we may be putting Rail Theory on the back-burner for a while. If we resume development on the game, we would want to really refine the gameplay ideas, character, and environments to really give Rail Theory a unique identity." [Dave]: "Do you have any advice to aspiring Indie Developers?" [Tryconic Studios]: "The best way to learn game development is to start working on a project. Following YouTube, tutorials are extremely helpful, but if you don’t directly apply the knowledge, it's easy to forget. I would suggest working on a project at least 3-4 times a week, even if it’s only 30 minutes or so per session.
Also, don’t be afraid to redo systems and work that you’ve improved on or found better ways to do. Whether it be updating animations or redoing scripts, the practice will make you better and you’ll see gradual improvements overall in both your project quality and your skill sets.
My last bit of advice would be stick to it! The demo that we released was the 5th build of Rail Theory, which was the result of much practice and dedication over the course of 3 years. Keep practicing, keep improving, and keep working on a project you enjoy."
A big thank you to Tryconic Studios for letting us go through with the interview!