Bullies come in many guises, as anyone steeped in geek culture know – perhaps better than most. From schoolyard punks and their endless pursuit of lunch money to misogynistic goons of that sort that Crystal Dynamic community manager Meagan Marie recently encountered at PAX East, they’re inescapable. Minority Media founder and Papo y Yo creator Vander Caballero recognized this as he and his team of AAA vets turned to their next project, which we now know to be called Silent Enemy.
Silent Enemy is set in a land of endless winter. Resources are scarce and fearsome scavenger crows possess all of the power. Players guide The Boy through the harsh, unforgiving landscape, gathering loose spirits of the spring as he works to keep the seasons turning. These glowing golden orbs trail along behind The Boy when collected, and they drive much of the game’s puzzle-solving.
Silent Enemy is bound for touchscreen devices and, thanks to its touch-enabled controller, the new Ouya console. Players use the touch surface to trace lines for collected spirits to follow. Their properties can change when you interact with certain locations, allowing the spirits to either freeze or melt ice. The Boy is also able to take possession of nearby rabbits and wolves; the animals are able to reach otherwise inaccessible locations and the spirits of spring that may be tucked away there.
Then we have the crows, the bullies of this world. Silent Enemy is still in the concept phase, so Caballero wasn’t quite ready to show us what they look like during our sitdown at the 2013 Game Developer’s Conference. He stressed that they aren’t just birds. The game’s crows have more of a humanoid shape, black and feathered, with exaggerated crow-like facemasks on their heads.
It’s not yet clear exactly how Silent Enemy‘s mechanics work with regards to the crows, beyond the fact that they’re not traditional video game enemies. You can’t beat them up or kill them. You can’t necessarily take a completely different path either though, as that would give them the power. You’ve got to confront them in some manner; the details here are still being figured out.
Minority’s work on Papo y Yo impressed most everyone who played it when it came to PlayStation Network last year. Caballero’s goal is to put the game – a self-reflective journey that considers a childhood spent under the dominion of an alcoholic father – in the hands of as many players as possible. Next up for Papo is a Steam release on April 18, 2013. After that, who knows?
Silent Enemy may only be a concept right now, but it looks like a promising next step for a team that has proven its intention to deliver interactive content that doesn’t embrace the industry’s love of senseless violence. Bullying is an always-relevant topic and, as we saw with Papo, Minority has a deft touch when it comes to building gameplay around metaphor.
We’ll have more for you next week straight from Caballero on Silent Enemy and Minority’s continuing efforts to elevate the craft of interactive entertainment.