Ecuador-based studio Freaky Creations will bring its exploration puzzle game To Leave to the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita later this year in addition to Linux, Mac and Windows PC, creative director Estefano Palacios said.
Palacios showed the latest version of the game at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, which has undergone some significant changes since we first saw it last year. The game's storytelling and cutscenes have been streamlined, and there is now a greater focus on environmental storytelling.
In To Leave, players take on the role of a young boy named Harm, who is trying to leave the city of Candice. According to Palacios, the game is a metaphor for the challenges of life, and the team of developers at Freaky Creations hopes that players will be able to relate to it in some way.
"[The city of Candice] is a fire with a mind, and the only thing she wants to do is to grow," Palacios said. "And to do that, she farms her people by luring them with what they desire and keeping them entertained until they are ripe to be burned. Then she goes and burns and devours them. That's how she fuels her growth."
The story and events in the game can be taken literally, but Palacios hopes that players will be able to identify with Harm is some way and project themselves into the world of Candice. The game explores feelings of hopelessness, the feeling wanting to leave but being unable to, maybe because it's too hard or because it's too tempting or easy to stay.
Palacios believes some people might be able to identify with these feelings in their careers, relationships, addictions or where they are in life. He told Polygon that the game's theme was inspired by unhappy relationships, people stuck in unhappy jobs and the fear of venturing out and trying something new because the status quo — unhappy as it may be — is the safest and easiest option.
...The game's theme was inspired by unhappy relationships, people stuck in unhappy jobs and the fear of venturing out...
"We want to match the player's feelings with Harm's feelings," he said. "There's a point in the game where you've been trying to leave for so long you've forgotten your purpose. There's a moment where's you feel like you've been trying to break free for so longer, you don't know if it will ever happen. Then you realize Harm's motivation for leaving. He's hanging onto his door, he feels like he's going to go down, he knows he could just go back, but he remembers why he is leaving. He remembers what kind of pain Candice inflicts, what kind of loneliness you can experience in Candice, and how Candice doesn't let you do what you want.
"The purpose for the team is to make Harm's story a bit vague in order for the player to project meaning into it. We want the player to say, 'In my life, this was happening to me.' Maybe it will resonate with players."
To Leave was developed within Sony Computer Entertainment's Latin America Incubation Program, which is an initiative that helps game development communities in Latin America make games for PlayStation consoles. The Incubation Program loans development kits to game-makers in the region at no cost and provides them with access to Sony's developer support website. Palacios told Polygon that without the program, To Leave would not have come as far as it has today.
Speaking to Polygon, the program's account manager Mike Foster said Latin America has largely been ignored by the rest of the world in terms of game development, which is why he and a few members of SCEA decided to travel to the region to see in what ways they could support the local industry.
"We were amazed by the passion and enthusiasm present in game development," Foster said. "I immediately fell in love with the community there and knew right away I wanted to be involved in bringing attention to them in any way I could.
"From the first time we met the team at Freaky Creations, we knew they were creative and motivated. Their game, To Leave, clearly stands out from a visual standpoint, and the gameplay is a great metaphor for the difficulty all of us face in trying to leave situations in life where we are stuck. I believe that the unique look and storyline if really going to capture the player's interest and, of course, the game is fun to play, with its evolving gameplay and incredibly difficult, yet rewarding level of challenge."