Story-driven 2D action-exploration game Reina & Jericho coming to PS5

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Story-driven 2D action-exploration game Reina & Jericho coming to PS5

Create a perfect chain of cause and effect.

In August of 2019, after psyching myself up by watching clips from Office Space, I quit my web development job of ten years to focus full time on game development at Reclamation Games, the small studio I started with my wife, Vanessa.  She is a talented musician and composer, and I had experience on small hobbyist gaming projects, a background in computer science, and had spent the last two years learning about Unity, game programming, 3D modelling, and animation. It was not veteran industry expertise – we tracked down people to help with that later – but it was a start.

I had a prototype of a 2D action-exploration game where the story was interwoven with the non-linear exploration and progression, but we had reached a point in development where finishing it would require a massive increase in time commitment.  I had to either walk away from it or go all in by quitting my day job and focusing entirely on creating the game I had always wanted to play. So I did.

Almost two years later, I am excited to reveal Reina & Jericho is coming to PlayStation 5. Let me tell you more about it.

Story-driven 2D action-exploration game Reina & Jericho coming to PS5

Meet Reina

Reina, the main protagonist, is a resourceful and scrappy young woman with a chip on her shoulder earned from a life of hardship. She lacks all but the most basic knowledge of what is happening and what she has gotten herself into, and she is completely unequipped to overcome the obstacles in her path – two problems she will have to solve on the go.

For Reina’s design we had the good fortune of working with Leandro Franci, a fantastic illustrator with a knack for the stylized aesthetic we wanted to achieve, and Dan Eder, a master of stylized 3D modelling who was able to bring Leandro’s sketches to life. Reina’s scars tell of her difficult life and her simple clothes speak to her working-class status.

Around her neck rests a powerful artifact called the Regret Device which allows her to revisit the recent past armed with knowledge and items she has gained along the way – an imperfect form of time travel that makes events play out slightly differently each time she uses it. 

Non-Linear Time

A key hallmark of the 2D action-exploration genre is backtracking: the player will see a locked door or other obstacle blocking off exploration to some area, and later they will find the key to surmounting it and come back later to explore. In Reina & Jericho we wanted to push this idea further in two ways:

  • The player can backtrack through time and causality, rather than just geographically.
  • We integrate the story into this exploration and revisitation as much as possible.

The Regret Device allows Reina to quick travel to previous game locations, but also undoes all the events that have taken place after that moment.  Sometimes the implications of this are minor: a shorter path to power ups that were once out of reach. Other times they are crucial – people who were killed after the moment Reina has returned will be alive again, although perhaps missing a few items she has taken from them.

Integrated Story

I have long felt the exploratory nature of the 2D action-exploration genre had the potential for cool storytelling that could only be done through the medium of video games but was often relegated to a secondary role.  I would often think about the similarities between backtracking in a Metroidvania and the way the mind constantly travels back to moments of regret and previous decisions that could have been made differently.

With Reina & Jericho we have woven a powerful story about love, suffering, regret, and consequence that will follow Reina as she is gradually pulled deeper into the machinations of the villain, Eli Faust.  Reina’s attempt to rescue Jericho becomes more and more entangled with the broader events of the story – past, present, and future.

Emotive Music

Vanessa naturally gravitates towards an emotional, heavy style of music.  Our process for making the soundtrack was relatively straight forward: Vanessa would sit down at a piano and play improvisationally for somewhere between two minutes and two hours, and I would record everything so I could sift through it later and give her a shortlist of material to formally compose from. Sometimes we would listen to music beforehand to get in a mood – usually something from Nobuo Uematsu, Arcade Fire, Bear McCreary, or Yoko Shimomura – other times it would be conversations about what was happening in the story, but it always started with those sessions of exploring music on the piano.

Gameplay

Reina has a simple core set of moves that offers a solid foundation for newcomers to the genre while still leaving room for expressive and highly skilled play thanks to all the ways Reina’s different actions can be strung together and interconnected.  The critical path through the game contains a good mix of exploration, combat, and platforming, but side paths that grant minor power ups are where we put the more explicit challenges.

Stay tuned for the release announcement for Reina & Jericho. We are excited to share the game with all of you soon and think it will leave a lasting impression!

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12 Comments

  • brea-serrenity45

    Looks amazing!! Can’t wait to play it!!

  • Looks amazing with a compelling story. Can’t wait to play!

  • Deadmanshand_MB

    The problem here is that most PS5’s are in the hands of scalpers, and Sony keeps enabling them! Microsoft has a program that allows anyone with Xbox One to buy new Xbox with out hassle. Sony has NO PLAN. They don’t giver a damn who gets their consoles as long as they sell! It is time to cancel PS Plus and PS now alonf with Playstation!

    • reclamationdave

      Would it make you feel better if I told you Reina & Jericho is multiplatform, and although we won’t be on PS4 right away we want to get to that pretty quickly?

    • Ever heard of PS Direct ?

  • Interesting, but I have some suggestions.

    1) Apply SSAO
    2) cast some kind of shadow from the character. (which is odd because one of your previews does have shadows)
    3) Apply light sources to the character. Most indie games do this these days. She looks she isn’t part of the environment and its really throwing it off.
    4) not sure the camera needs to be that far out.
    5) dress the UI up a little bit more, its very generic. Makes this game seem more like a prototype than a final product.
    6) Name could stand out more. This feels like a fuzzy adventure wanting to fit in with the collection of other fuzzy indie games that everyone will forget in 6 months or less. This game is so much more. Ditch the piano music in the trailer, its bad, really bad as it fits in with that fuzz I was talking about. Maybe consider a name change that reflects the core of your game.

    I like the character design. Over all it seems like my kind of game, but the collection of rogue like metroidvanias and metroidvanias in general is a pretty lengthy list right now. You need to stand out. Literally just finished a Record of Lodoss War game in this style on steam. Deedlit and the Wonder Labyrinth (fun game). Great game play, but I doubt many will play it beyond those familiar with the franchise.

    Trust me it’ll be worth it and more people will find your game visually appealing enough to grab it based on that. I’m not trying to be rude. I think there is potential here, but the game is not ready for prime time and impatience is forcing your studio to push it out the door before it is ready. Is this money related? you just need 6 or so more months (unless you need to rescore the game). Just my honest opinion on the matter, as it stands I won’t be buying this game. I’ll be looking for a different indie metroidvania game to fill my time. Why would I buy your game over say Blue Fire which releases next month for PS4?

    • reclamationdave

      Given that you have specific suggestions, I thought I’d respond to some of them.

      1.) That’ll be in the final product on most platforms.
      2.) That should be more consistent in the PS5 release as well.
      3.) We’ve experimented with this off and on, and may try it again. This sort of stuff is getting touched up on. I am very interested in your comment that she doesn’t seem part of the environment – could you elaborate on this?
      4.) The camera zoom level is set on a per-room basis depending on the needs of each room. Generally speaking the more platforming, the further it pulls back.
      5.) As a trained UI designer with years of professional experience, I overwhelmingly disagree with you on this one. There is a place for stylized UIs, but above all a UI is a place for design, not art (and they are not the same thing). The UI exists to make the information it conveys obvious, and nothing else is required of it. UIs that draw significant attention belong in UI centric games, not Metroidvania/platformers.
      6.) It’s a story driven game about its characters, and we named it after its characters. As far as music goes we have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to it. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a very good match for the story and the game and that’s what matters most, rather than catering to individual tastes.

      As far as “don’t rush it concerns”, I mean we just announced that the game is also coming to PS5, and that’s it. The release date isn’t even announced yet. As far as whether or not you get it or Blue Fire, I think Blue Fire looks great – but I expect the experience of playing it will be very, very different. And hey, if you want to get some other indie Metroidvania go for it. I can guarantee you they won’t do what we’re doing in Reina & Jericho though.

    • reclamationdave

      Also, I just want to clarify in case it wasn’t obvious in my response, but I appreciate the constructive criticism and feedback, even on the subjects we disagree on. It’s tricky because we know we can’t make a game that will please everyone but at the same time we want to make the best version of our idea, win over people on the fence, and also keep making it better right up until release. Lots left to do!

  • This looks quite neat and I will keep an eye out for it!

    But…Make sure to make the font MUCH bigger, it looks almost ridiculously small to be readable.

    Something looking nice and tiny to a web designer eye will be infuriating to a buyer who can’t read it.

    Thanks!

  • Inspiring story and compelling game. So glad you took that chance and made your dream happen. As a game designer about to take the same leap, I’ll definitely support this. Greatest successes!

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