Four Successes in the Year from Hell

We’re not even going to waste time talking about the general events of 2020 — henceforth known as the “thirteenth floor of the 21st century.” Instead, we’re going to stay positive and dive straight into what we did as a independent video game studio! (Spoiler: it’s a lot more than we thought.)

1) We expanded our library on Nintendo Switch

NintendoLife introduced their brand-new Indie Spotlight in September as a way to showcase new games from independent studios like ours. We were honoured with two features in the 30-minute presentation: announcements of new, Nintendo Switch versions of our first two games, Home and Alone With You.

Home: Postmortem Edition launched in October, enriching our “quintessential classic 2D horror” (VideoChums) with a brand new Postmortem Mode — a developer diary that’s integrated into the choose-your-own-terror narrative gameplay.

We’ve always been open with sharing our experience developing Home (the original source code was a high-tier item in the GameMaker Humble Bundle a few years ago). Postmortem Edition continues that desire to invite curious players and budding developers behind the scenes with us.

Alone With You: Deep Space Edition was announced for 2021, and it too will feature a special behind-the-scenes developer mode (we’re still working on the catchy name). The launch of our much-loved sci-fi adventure on Switch will mean that Nintendo players will have the ultimate versions of our entire current catalogue, ready for play anywhere. (This makes us happy.)

2) We launched our third physical title on PlayStation

Our third game, Worse Than Death, fused heart-pounding stealth, gruesome puzzles and a deep plot into an award-winning horror adventure. (Seriously, it was called “One of the Ten Best Horror Games of All Time” by GameCrate.)

Thanks to the fine folks at Limited Run Games, Worse Than Death launched in beautiful, physical form on PlayStation 4 this past spring. This means that players can own our entire current catalogue on disc for the PS4 (and, by extension, the backwards-compatible PlayStation 5)!

The highlight of this release was the detailed manual that featured sketches, process images, level diagrams and lots of never-before-scene material. And, if you were paying attention, it also contained a surprise announcement, which was that…

3) Worse Than Death became a comic book

From the game’s inception, we knew we wanted to expand Worse Than Death’s story into our other favourite medium: comic books. The game is heavily inspired by gruesome 1950s comics and Japanese horror manga, so a sequential sequel was only natural.

Set several years after the event of the game, the Worse Than Death comic follows two lead characters: Holly, the game’s protagonist; and Mia, a date-devouring monster with a complex history. We released chapters one and two in the second half of 2020, with chapter three set for release in Q1 2021.

(What’s Worse Than Death? The year 2020, amirite?)

4) We looked towards the future

If you read our Three Crucial Lessons article from the end of 2019, you’ll know that we have been a game development studio on the brink of change. This year marked our eighth official year in business, and we’ve been wanting to grow and try new things.

And somehow, despite this awful year from Hell, we’ve begun to do just that, with a brand-new project, a larger team, and an eye on the horizon. After 2020, who can say they’ll ever be the same? We sure can’t, and we can’t wait to share more about where we’re going.

Here’s to 2021! (Please be good.)

Game developer (Home, Alone With You, Worse Than Death) and game design educator at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. http://www.benjaminrivers.com