Hello everybody! I’m Hernan Lopez from Epic Llama Games and I’m happy to share the great news about the release of our new adventure game Unusual Findings with you and all fans of the 1980s! Looking back at all the work done, I would like to give you some insight into the game’s background.
Making Unusual Findings took a lot of effort. I mean a lot! The game script alone is humongous and it is full of scripted stuff and unique events. Yet it was so much fun to make it!
In case you have no idea what the plot of the game is all about, I will sum it up for you. It’s Christmas Eve in a calm little town, where three kids are desperately trying to watch a pay per view adult TV-channel using an illegal signal decoder. In a sudden turn of events, they had stumbled upon a killer alien from outer space. So, they had to catch him, obviously! Rest assured nothing will go according to anyone’s plan… things are going to get wild and stakes are going to soar!
You see the bulk of our team was born in the mid-1980s, so we grew up surrounded by that vibe. Although we were too young to “truly” experience the 80s since we barely lived in that time, we grew up consuming the 80s pop culture. When we were kids/teenagers, we were obsessed with the popular TV shows like Viaje a lo inesperado, Cine de trasnoche disco, El mundo del espectáculo. I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about here, as those were extremely local TV shows (We are from Cordoba, Argentina). For all that I’m also quite certain, that you grew up (if you are over 30 years old) watching pretty similar stuff. Those shows used to be like this: a host talks a bit about the movie that was about to come next, and then… the movie! It could be a horror or it could be an action (depending on time of the day), but usually it was some movie of 80s. Sometimes they showed a big blockbuster like The Goonies or Aliens, but you could also see more obscure ones like: Krull, Batteries Not Included’ or Explorers.
In Unusual Findings we wanted the players to feel like they are in one of those movies. Even more than that! Immerse them into a quintessential 80s movie that has the best elements of the narrative of that decade in it. Let them explore, visit, re-visit, play around, talk with interesting characters, experiment with stuff and try to solve the mystery behind the Unusual Findings. So to achieve this we had to do a lot of homework. In addition to all the 80s pop culture that we have already consumed back then, we made ourselves watch at least one 80s movie or TV show episode per day during the GDD (game design document) and script development phase!
Unusual Findings is not all about the 80s though. Of course, one of the main themes here is nostalgia, and I am not talking only about nostalgia for 80s. For instance, one of our main characters, Vinny, is a huge fan of the 1940s and black and white movies of that era.
Other big themes of Unusual Findings arefriendship andfacing the unknown. That is exactly what constantly happens during the game in very different ways. I am not going to spoil that for you, anyway.
To emphasize the “facing the unknown” point we had to add some unusual findings, I mean features, to the usual point and click game loop. So instead of having just one main character walking around and investigating everything, we came up with a group of three friends… walking around and investigating everything! While the player is still in control of just one character, Vinny, Nick and Tony tag him along, share their opinions or help Vinny directly if they can. It plays way better, since now the main character is not “monologuing” around, but is rather having an organic talk with the rest of the team.
We wanted Vinny, Nick and Tony to be real teen friends supporting each other during their adventure. They are constantly making jokes and sometimes arguing with each other.
As the player chooses between different dialogue options, the trio reacts accordingly. It is not just a nice narrative feature, but also a game gimmick, since the player truly influences how the things unfold, and a lot of puzzles change in the process, sometimes in radical ways! To give you an idea, the last chapter is essentially three different chapters which don’t share a single location or item (all the puzzles and dialogues are unique). So, this feature boosts the replayability significantly, even though the game is quite long anyway.
Location-wise these three friends are going to visit some places iconic for horror movies (woods in the night, the lovers’ lane, a junkyard, a secret lab, sewers) and some places full of nostalgia like an amusement arcade, a VHS store or a treehouse.
Another feature we are extremely proud of is the game art. Not only of the pixel art with particles, smokes and modern enhancements, but also of the music! We are so extremely proud of the sound in the game: we were able to get the #1 hit You Spin Me Round (like a record) from Dead or Alive – the real kings of synth pop! You would not believe how much effort is needed for a small studio like ours to get them into the OST! Not to mention how much it means for us to have a real piece of the 80s in the game, but apart from that mind blowing fact, we also have music from some new retro wave stars like Robert Parker and Midnight Fighters. The cherry on top of all this is our original OST composed by LATAM Grammy nominee Tomas Ferrero!
Unusual Findings pays tribute to all those iconic movies we watched, to all those toys we played with, to all that wonderful synthesizer oozing music we still listen to and, on the whole, to that wonderful era that shaped us… I hope players will enjoy the game as much as we enjoyed making it for them!