I’m sorry I wasn’t able to post at all during December, December is just a generally busy and stressful month with Halloween and everything. Halloween is all about suspense and spookiness and such so many games are trying to get into the holiday spirit by making you However I’m building a metroidvania platformer and I have no intention of making it a horror game. However, I may still be able to incorporate suspense into the level design for a purpose other than spooks.
I loved Cat Nigri’s “Necrosphere”, if you are interested in metroidvanias I would strongly recommend looking into it (even though it only has 2 ability upgrades). It (much like my game) ditches the convention of large expanses of empty space, in necrosphere everything is crammed together so you are never more than a few seconds before the next challenge. This happens everywhere except in one place where you do almost nothing for about a whole minute as it builds suspense.
The whole first hour or so of necrosphere you have no way of moving up, you can only move left or right. Then suddenly while walking you see the background change you slowly drop
This immediately made me think I was finally going to get vertical mobility, and as I continued I dropped down the pit after pit reinforcing the idea that I was probably about to finally be able to jump or something. Notice how each ledge is only a couple of blocks beneath the previous ledge, this gives you some clues to how a potential vertical ability will work, it drops subtle hints that the ability will only allow you to move up a certain amount. Even though I encountered no challenge for almost a full minute, I was completely engaged, I was trying to determine through environmental clues how the ability would work, would it give you a jump, a wall run, a jetpack?
So I wanted to incorporate this into my own game, to before getting an ability hint at what the ability is going to be. For example one of the abilities is a blast that lets you reveal secrets
and so I made it so that shortly before you get it you must pass through this area
the extrusion of the ceiling to almost touching you is enough to make anyone notice it, and the slightly different color of the bottom blocks makes you feel like something is special about this, it also helps that this is the first screen where you will ever see floating enemies and also the first screen where you ever encounter platforms you can drop through so it can help you remember it. On the way to that same blast power up you later run into this:
which is also a very memorable location due to the new enemy type discovered here. This isn’t a location you will need to go back to in order to progress it’s just an optional side path resulting in a coin. The overall purpose of all of this is to get you thinking about what the next power up could be. And you eventually make it to this room
a relatively difficult (harder than it looks) room that may take you a few tries so you’ll spend some time in there. However, the whole time you can see the power up at the top and you can’t help but guess what it’s gonna be.