Inner Chains Is An FPS/Horror Set in a Surreal, Dark & Deadly Biomechanical World
Some of the older readers among you may recall the Heretic/Hexen franchise, developed by Raven Software. Those were among the first successful dark fantasy first person shooters (FPS), a subgenre that did not spawn as many works as one could have hoped.
Inner Chains certainly follows in those footsteps. Developed with Unreal Engine 4 by Polish studio Telepaths' Tree, it is set on a distant planet which hosts a very hostile and peculiar environment.
A rock floating in space, no longer resembling what it had once been. Without human interference, nature has begun to adapt to the new conditions, reclaiming what was once taken by humans. In its everlasting pursuit of perfection, it has begun to assimilate with the abandoned technology, giving life to biomechanical beings.
Left to its own devices, man-made technology has also changed as it tried to adapt to the new environment. Evolution cannot be stopped, so a strong symbiosis soon developed between technology and nature, making it difficult to determine what is alive and what is mechanical in the world of Inner Chains.
The game, currently trying to achieve some of the planned stretch goals on Kickstarter, will debut on Steam in the second quarter of 2016. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One ports are on the roadmap, too, though they will happen after the full release on PC; Inner Chains also features VR support, just in case you want to increase the immersion factor.
We talked about all this and more with Tomasz Strzałkowski, Creative / Art Director and Co-Founder of Telepaths' Tree. Enjoy our exclusive interview!
- What were your main influences when creating a biomechanical world like this one?
- My personal work is probably the largest part of inspiration. I’ve been creating my artworks since the beginning of my professional career and as soon as I started to work in the game industry I wanted to do a project influenced by this style. Inner Chains’ unique art direction is the result of that desire. It is my vision, and - of course - contribution of each of Telepaths’ Tree’s members.
- Inner Chains is described as an FPS horror game. What kind of split ratio can we expect between combat and exploration?
- It’s all about narration and how we carry it throughout the whole game. First stages are almost non-violent - we build this twisted, yet strangely beautiful atmosphere that sets the tone for the whole storyline. You embark on a journey, and over time, strange things are starting to happen around you. Turns out nothing is as it seemed to be, the world becomes hostile and you quickly realize you need to fight for your life. Or, should I say - something way bigger than your life.
- While detailing the backstory on the Kickstarter page, it was mentioned that the protagonist is just one of the human inhabitants of this world. Does that mean that it will be possible to interact with other humans? If so, will they be aiding him, hindering him or possibly both?
- The first chapter of our story describes humans as saviors - few chosen ones are even able to use the sacred remains of ancient technology. Those few lead humanity in a desperate quest for salvation, but - as you already know from our Kickstarter campaign - it will not come easy, there are enemies on their path. It’s all I can say right now, we don’t want to reveal everything.
- "Unprecedented ways of interaction between weapons, their users and the environment." Can you tell us more about this intriguing tidbit, perhaps with an example?
- Well, I think we have a quite cool concept behind it. As you may already know, weapons in Inner Chains are basically parasites. They interact with the environment and feed on the life force of their host. You’ll have to figure out how to use your arsenal effectively, so it doesn’t drain you too much. For example, sometimes the best way to survive would be to use your weapons on biomechanical surroundings rather than just shooting directly your enemy.
- Will Inner Chains offer a seamless world to explore or segmented levels? In the latter case, how many levels will there be and how many different environments?
- Our story is divided into four chapters and it feels natural, because there are four distinct phases of the game world, each phase has specific vibe and unique visual element. Those flavors complement progression of the whole storyline.
Within chapters, there are multiple levels, but the transition between them is seamless, so the player won’t notice the change.
- You've said that Inner Chains should last 3/4 hours. Will there be any specific reason to play through the game again? Also, are you going to price the game accordingly?
- There’s a significant replayability factor here. Each playthrough will be a special experience.
- The Kickstarter page touts “innovative VR support”. Can you tell us more about this, and do you plan to support the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive or both?
- Oculus Rift for sure. We’ll probably go with HTC Vive too, but we haven’t tested that yet. VR support will give the opportunity to dive into mesmerizing biomechanical world of Inner Chains and became a part of it. Also, our great, captivating soundtrack will increase total immersion.
- Do you plan to implement features on PC from either NVIDIA GameWorks or AMD GPUOpen?
- The game is built on Unreal 4, so NVIDIA GPU feature set depends on the current version of the engine. There are many NVIDIA Gameworks features already implemented in UE4, such as PhysX Clothing and Destruction, and they’re really useful for us. But GameWorks VR is the one thing that excites us the most and gives us a really big boost.
On a side note though - you need to remember we’re a small team and we’re pushing ourselves to the limits to take advantage of UE4’s features, but we won’t compromise game’s narration and storyline to technical wonders just for the sake of them.
- What about DirectX 12 and/or Vulkan support? Is that something you're looking at for Inner Chains?
- Not specifically. We use as much as UE4 gives us so we hope that DirectX12 will improve performance.
- Is the June release date for a Steam Early Access launch, or will that be a full release?
- The full release is scheduled for second quarter of 2016.
- You've said on Kickstarter that you'd like to bring Inner Chains to consoles. Are you targeting one console in particular (PlayStation 4 or Xbox One) or both? Also, you mentioned that it might happen later – does that mean next year or just in late 2016?
- We’d love to see Inner Chains on both systems. I can’t say when though, that depends on how much time we’ll need to adapt our game to consoles. It’ll be much easier to give rough estimates once we start working on those ports.
- If a PS4 release happened, would you like to add compatibility with PlayStation VR? Have you tried the device already and what do you think of it?
- It’s too early to talk about this. It would be great to add PS VR compatibility, but first we have to start PS4 development, which will not happen sooner than after PC launch.
- Thank you for your time.