Day three of EGX 2018 gifted me with an opportunity to dive into the premiere demo of Causeway by NFTS Games. Despite my profound curiosity to hear more about this title, I anticipated having a relatively jam-packed schedule throughout the course of the event and in light of this, arranged an email interview with one of the minds behind the game beforehand. In the interview below, I pick Sam Frazher’s brains about Causeway in hope of shedding further light on the title for both myself and you eager readers.
NH – Causeway is a “tactical adventure roguelike set in the machine inhabited remains of a dead earth”. Could you please outline it’s premise?
SF – The name Causeway is inspired by the actual Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland (see below) which looks very similar to the terrain in the game. It’s an adventure game which uses roguelike elements to keep every playthrough different, as you generate the world yourself as you explore. This is done through dredging up bits of the surface that have been buried beneath the sea. Sometimes you’ll also pull up dormant robots and drones that turn hostile towards your character, with the game entering turn-based ‘X-Com style’ combat.
NH – What inspired the story behind Causeway and it’s proceedings?
SF – Causeway takes place on a planet that has long since been abandoned by humanity after our neglect of the environment has caused sea levels to rise above much of the surface. They’ve left behind all manner of drones and robots, one of which is the player character in the game, who are starting to wake up and attempt to piece together what happened, who they are, and where they go from here.
NH – Are there any particular games that have inspired or influenced aspects of Causeway?
SF – I think Causeway is quite unique in the way it has come together, but it certainly combines aspects of some strong influences. The X-Com series is a big influence on the combat, which sees the player managing a certain amount of energy each turn and being able to stack abilities to take enemies. There’s a certain similarity with Into The Breach as well, in that you can use the environment around you to rig fights in your favour with a bit of strategic thinking. Thematically I think the worlds of Horizon: Zero Dawn and Nier: Automatahave looked at similar stories, but I think Causewayfocusses in on the robots’ point of view more than either of those. After all, in Causeway the humans are long gone.
NH – I’m rather intrigued by the robotic lead. What can you tell me about Causeway’s protagonist?
SF – There’s more than a little bit of mystery about themdefinitely! They’re an older model of robot that gets booted up from a long period of hibernation to find out what has happened to the planet. The difference between them and the others is that they wake up with a charged Magnetic Harpoon, the device that enables you to pull up bits of the sea bed to explore the world. You quickly meet a friendly drone called Skippy which accompanies you on the adventure as your guide.
NH – Is there a big team of passionate minds behind Causeway? How did you come together?
SF – The team is actually quite small, we’re all students on different causes at the National Film & Television School (https://www.nfts.co.uk).
Niru Fekri-Arnold (https://twitter.com/nirufekriarnold) is the game’s designer, who has conceived the idea and created it from scratch in about six months.
I’m (https://twitter.com/samfrazher) on the Marketing course and responsible for getting the game out there to gamers and press like yourselves, as well as getting the game in front of people who maybe interested in investing in the final version.
We also have a dedicated sound designer and composer who have done a fantastic job on those aspects of the game. For such a small team I think we’re all very pleased with the final EGX demo!
NH – The game appears to be rather dark from what I’ve seen. Is it intended to be at all atmospheric, unnerving or of an eerie nature?
SF – The demo takes place in the opening area which is certainly a dark and eerie place. We really wanted to emphasise the feeling of a large, abandoned expanse of water which your character gradually explores. There is a different atmosphere in the different parts of the world your character travels to.
NH – At a first glance Causeway emits a 3D platformer vibe. Can you shed light on your decision to make it specifically a “tactical” adventure title?
SF – I think a part of it was that in recent Roguelike titles the combat can be quite simple, and the designer wanted to drill down into the kind of deep combat you usually see in Strategy titles. It just adds another intriguing aspect to the game to go along with the freeform exploration of the procedurally generated world.
NH – What are you hoping to achieve with the feedback from Causeway’s premiere at EGX 2018?
SF – The main thing is to get Causeway in front of real gamers and see what aspects they enjoy and what we need to focus on improving as we go towards beta and the final game. Ideally we’d like to show the game to potential investors as well.
NH – When is Causeway’s intended release date and which platforms will it be playable on?
SF – We don’t have a nailed down release date as yet, but a 2019 release would be ideal if we can secure funding quickly. Causeway will be released on PC to begin with and then pending success on that platform we would look if it would be viable to release on console as well.
Sam has kindly provided links (above) to the various Twitter accounts of several members of the team behind Causeway. Besides this, you can keep up to date with the game via the Causeway Twitter account itself (@CausewayGame). You can read my thoughts on the game on the EGX Day Three coverage post.