The wonderful guys at Sand Sailor Studio gave us the chance to interview them about their upcoming game Black The Fall in conjunction with The Square Enix Collective.
Damien: So, who are Sand Sailor Studio and how long have you been operating for?
Cristian: Sand Sailor Studio is an independent studio based in Bucharest, founded by Cristian Diaconescu and Nicoleta Iordanescu in 2014. Since then, the team gradually grew into a cohesive group of nine developers working hard on our first title: Black The Fall.
Damien: How would you describe Black The Fall to people who have never heard of your game?
Cristian: Black The Fall is Orwell’s 1984 transformed into a puzzle game. This novel is maybe one of the best-known dystopias, that anticipated the atrocity about to happen: Communism. The real Communism as was lived in Easter Europe, for instance, or the one that still exists today in some countries.
Damien: Black The Fall reminds me of games such as Deadlight and Limbo as it has a very dark and atmospheric theme. Why did you decide to go down this route and was there any personal inspiration behind it?
Cristian: We wanted to create a game about the oppressive system, as our families felt it. So, we broke Romanian Communism into pieces and rearranged them to form something that transcends words: a compelling atmosphere. We had people who played the demo, then come to us and say “I felt very lonely and oppressed. Hunted, miserable, vengeful “. We’d be like: “That’s amazing, so happy to hear! That’s what we were going for!”.
Damien: Your main protagonist is a worker trying to escape a factory in Communist Romania, does he/she have a backstory that you can share?
Cristian: Like many other farmers, Black was forced by the State to work in a large industrial city. He was thrown into a dark, lifeless factory, bound to make his daily share of nuts and bolts. After the compulsory collectivization, the workers became the busy ants, keeping the industry going. When the Party started enforcing the Five Year Plan, they were the first to become an expendable resource, being forced to work until life would drain out of them.
This is the drama of a nation who lost its identity, the story of an uprooted man. It’s no longer about principles or what one believes in, but about surviving. So from manipulation to killing and stealing anything is permitted for Black, the antihero who just wants to survive. Even by paying with his life
Damien: The games’ description states that it uses manipulation mechanics – Can you tell us a little about this how works?
Cristian: The factory workers are assigned meaningless, repetitive tasks, usually being manipulated and supervised by abusive guardians. At some point Black will steal such a designator, so he’ll have the ability to manipulate workers, machines and even a robot pet. With this dictatorial laser pointer, Black is able to assign them specific tasks, thus building up his escape.
Damien: You’ve partnered with the Square Enix Collective for the release of Black the Fall – How have they aided you in terms of getting your name/game out to the community?
Cristian: Being part of the Square Enix Collective family, makes the journey much more enjoyable. From their support of our Kickstarter campaign to showcasing our game at major gaming events, Square Enix Collective has been an amazing promoter for Black The Fall. Also, besides the brilliant people at Square Enix Collective, we have the chance to share this experience with awesome people from around the world like the developers of Oh My Godheads, Tokyo Dark, Goetia or Forgotten Anne.
Damien: There are a wealth of puzzle games out there but for those looking to invest in a new one in the long-serving genre, what makes Black the Fall stand out?
Cristian: Black The Fall is illustrating the past while being painfully relevant for the present. For anyone curious about how an oppressive system feels like, we’re offering this experience together with the chance to be one of those who survives.
Damien: You’re scheduled for release this year on Steam – Is there any chance I’ll be able to sit on my couch playing Black The Fall on my consoles anytime soon and if so, which ones?
Cristian: Yes, this year it will be out on PS4 and Xbox One.
You can check out Sand Sailor Studios here: http://www.blackthefall.com/sand-sailor-studio.html
You can check out The Square Enix Collective here: http://collective.square-enix.com/
Take a listen to Game Hype’s interview with the Phil Elliot: http://www.gamehype.co.uk/lets-talk-square-enix-collective/