What is Atropos?
The Short Answer
Atropos is a semi-open world role playing game based within the bustling heart of Manchester, England. It follows the story of five young adults and the people they meet along the way as they deal with juggling the realities of life – work, rent, social life, and the manifestation of supernatural abilities.
Play as Agi Powell, a young woman regaining her life after a change in circumstances, who stumbles into a confusing world intertwined with the supernatural. Gaining esoteric abilities and a group of close friends, she learns to deal with an ever increasing list of threats and dangers, and aims to learn just what the hell is going on.
The Really Long Answer:
Where and when does the game take place?
The game primarily takes place in and around Manchester in the north of England, sometime in the near future.
Other than a multiplayer level for Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 and a segment in Resistance: Fall of Man, we can’t personally recall any other games that take place within Manchester. We figured London’s enjoyed the limelight long enough (Plus we both have long histories with the city). Now we can give others a proper idea about north England culture (with some added superpowers and conspiracy, of course).
What’s the gameplay like?
The game features two sections, a ‘real life’ section and the ‘dungeon’ section, similar to the Persona series.
In the ‘real life’ section, you are given free roam of parts of Manchester. Here you can hang out with your friends, shop, play at an arcade, complete sidequests and so on. You are given a set amount of time each day to do these activities – which may be less if you’ve had work that day as well – and each activity takes up a certain chunk of time. Say, shopping in a corner shop will take 15 minutes, while chilling with your friends at the arcade could take a few hours. In addition, the world changes depending on the time of day (and time of year). Expect shops to close as night rolls in, as well as some shops potentially closing down, opening up or otherwise rebranding. We want Manchester to ‘feel’ real, and the location will evolve as time goes on.
In the ‘dungeon’ section, the game takes a more dungeon crawly style. Here, you investigate set locations with the team with the aim of discovering secrets and solving the particular scenario for the dungeon. Here is where you spend your time engaged in combat and actively using superpowers, as well as performing some light puzzle solving. While the real life section has its fair share of story progression, the dungeons will be where some of the deeper revelations occur.
That’s not to say you only get one or the other. Depending on the date, you could decide to spend an hour preparing in town, then go and explore a dungeon. In addition, there is a large persistent ‘dungeon’ that’s always explorable right in the heart of Manchester. This exists thanks to a mysterious event damaging a part of it, and that’s as far as we’re going to divulge…for now…
What is the art style going to be like?
We’ll be aiming for a sort of western animated style/semi realistic mix. We’ll use cel shading techniques and stylised characters placed within a somewhat more realistic world. We aim to make great use of colour to help tell the story. The game features a VN style dialogue system so we’re going to try and make the character models feel as close to their 2D counterparts as possible.
And the music style?
While we’re still up in the air about this, we’ll likely choose something that feels a little Madchester or British. We’re not opposed to some British D&B and other such styles though, and for the most part we’ll aim to combine modern with a little bit of your typical game orchestral when it really matters. In addition, we’ll also aim to feature street music throughout Manchester, adding to the atmosphere. Hopefully we’ll have a couple of songs with lyrics, but we’ll have to wait and see.
How does combat work?
Atropos uses a turn based combat system as seen in a number of role playing games. You get to control the entire team (Unless there are guest characters, they will usually act on their own), and the loss of Agi will not mean a full game over – we know how annoying that penalty is.
Before battle, each character will be able to equip three types of weapon simultaneously: a small melee weapon, a large melee weapon and a firearm. The small and large melee weapons act like agility and strength weapons respectively, while the firearm is a limited use massive damage tool. During combat, you will then be able to use any of the the equipped weapons at any time, with some passive buffs applying based on which one you last used. For example, using a large weapon now means you have it equipped, even after attacking. This would increase your defence a little, since you now have a sword or something to block with, at a small cost to the ability to dodge.
Using a weapon will trigger a small minigame – for Agi, she gets to play a very quick version of Blackjack. Winning the game (Getting 21 for Agi) will grant you a critical attack, while nearly winning (Scoring 19 or 20) may grant increased damage. Losing the game, on the other hand, will significantly increase the chance of missing an attack. Luckily, you can sway the game to your side by acquiring cheats as the game progresses. In addition, some enemies also have to play by their own game rules (Say a dice game, or roulette). Unfortunately, they too can cheat.
Alternatively, if you’ve got the energy to spare, you can skip the minigame malarky with some good old fashioned superpowers. These deal significantly more damage than normal attacks, but unfortunately cost some energy. Some powers from other members of Agi’s group may also act as buffs or debuffs, or otherwise provide other special effects. You can recover this energy by resting for a night or consuming an item.
There’s more planned for battle systems, such as event bosses and whatnot, but this should cover the basics for now.
What are you using to make the game?
We’re using Unity, mainly due to Dan’s experience in the C# programming language. Don’t worry though, Dan’s been a programmer for most of his life, and this game definitely won’t look like your usual Unity game affair.
Unity? Why not something like Unreal?
We’ve used and enjoy Unreal. The problem is that we’re not a fan of Blueprints for game logic, and compiling C++ can take a while – especially when we make core engine changes (As Dan is prone to do). In addition, we both have better experience with Unity and the pipelines within, and modern Unity is definitely a whole lot different from Unity 4.
Also, we’re trying to keep Unity store usage to a minimum. Specifically, we will only be using very useful utility tools such as Bolt (Yeah, we know it’s like Blueprint, but it helps with level scripting), UMotion Pro and ProBuilder. All assets will be developed by us, and any you see that aren’t are almost definitely placeholders.
When will Atropos be released?
At the moment we’re aiming for a late 2021 release, but honestly, we have no idea.