We recently caught up with one half of Parallel Circles to learn more about perhaps the most addictive game shown at Gamelab 2016: Flat Heroes, the minimalistic 4-player co-op survival platformer.
"It's a very, very simple game in terms of aesthetics, controls, but at the same time it's quite polished in every single level," says Lucas González, one of the two developers. "It's a multiplayer game (versus and cooperative). In the cooperative mode you join your friends and you have to defeat some enemies across different levels. In the competitive mode you fight against each other in several variations as a typical couch game."
But, what about those gameplay mechanics that hooked many people at the event in Barcelona? "We focus on the movement: we want it to feel very fluid when you take control," adds Lucas. "You can do a lot of things, but in a very easy way. You can move around the scenario, you can wall-jump and also you can stick to the walls or even stop in the air and then you can also attack, but the idea is to focus on the movement: to move, to avoid, to dodge the enemies."
Thus, the goal in the main co-op mode is to survive hazards and enemies, and with just one player surviving, you all clear the level. But there's physical collision between 'characters' or shapes, so you have to take that into account if you don't want to be an added obstacle. Then, for those who want to go naughty, there's a handful of competitive modes with battles and such.
During the interview we mention several potential inspirations such as Super Meat Boy, Bit.Trip, VVVVVV or Super Hexagon given the visual approach, but there's actually one main, different source of reference:
"It's true it reminds some other games, but to be honest we focus more on new design trends such as flat design or material design from Google", explains the dev. "We actually read a lot about Google material design (...) So it's not the shapes or the geometrics: we focus more on the animations to make it super-fluid and also intuitive. These kind of aesthetics are very good to give the player a good feedback".
The Spanish-born, Manchester-based Parallel Circles left the AAA industry (they previously worked at studios such as Double Eleven and TT Games) as "we really want to do the whole game, not just one specific part". Flat Heroes has been in development for a year and aims to offer 100 levels when it's done. Currently, it sports 80 levels and 8 final bosses (more on that in the interview, along some gameplay demonstration). The game has just been pitched on Steam Greenlight and will reach Early Access the moment it's lit. Plan is to launch on PC first and then "we have an agreement with Sony" (for PS4), "hopefully Xbox One" and "we're thinking about a single player experience and PS Vita fits very well". Here's the new Friends Trailer for Flat Heroes:
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