June was full of gaming announcements and events. Among all those big announcements and reveals, a small project from an indie studio ZeDrimeTim Studio caught attention of many fans. Yes, we are talking about a new game from ex-industry veterans, Darwin’s Paradox. It’s basically an adventure platformer video game.
The new indie studio was founded by Cedric Lagarrigue, Romuald Capron, Gilles Aujard and Mikael Tanguy. All 4 of them come from animation, film and gaming industries so ZeDrimeTim Studio is basically a blend of individuals from different entertainment industries and now, they want to use their expertise to make a game that many would be able to enjoy.
After the reveal of the game, we had a chance to talk about Darwin’s Paradox with Gilles Aujard and Mikael Tanguy. In the interview, we were able to discuss different topics about the game and the whole interview is as following:
Q: Tell us a little bit about ZeDrimeTim studio. How many people do you currently have working on Darwin’s Paradox?
ZeDrimeTim Studio has been founded by 4 people : Cedric Lagarrigue, Romuald Capron, Gilles Aujard and Mikael Tanguy.
Mika Tanguy: The studio positioning is unique. For several years, professionals from the movie and animation industry that Gilles and I were working into, had a growing use of Unreal Engine.
The studio is a gateway between these two industries : it merges talents from the video game with those coming from the animation industry.
ZeDrimTim is led by Romuald Capron, ex-Studio director of Arkane’s Studio, and Cedric Lagarrigue, founder and ex-chairman of Focus Home Interactive publisher (today Focus Entertainment).
Before the studio’s creation, Gilles & I, were working on our past jobs and developing our professional use of Unreal engine within a small project for quite some time: we wrote a full story, with characters and game mechanics.
As we wanted to get authentic reviews from the industry, we entered several contests and it went very well, especially with the winning of GameConnection x Chinajoy 2021, as Best console Game. This was the jumpstarter for the next steps.
We combined production and publishing with vfx, animation and design experts.
The target of the studio is to create rich feature film animation storytelling baselines to emphasize original game mechanics. We aim for streamlined video games for everyone.
We always wanted to propose games that steps out of the common zombie/bloody/hardcore games.
Currently, there are 5 people working on the game. We’ll expand in the next few weeks to 12 people.
Q: How far is the project in development? Do you guys have any release window in mind?
Thanks to the mechanics we developed on the prototype, we are now focused on the artistic part. We’re also fine-tuning the script and adding some new game mechanics.
The aim is for a Gold version by the end of 2023, and a release at the beginning of 2024.
Q: This is the first game of the studio, right? Any specific reasons you guys chose to make an adventure platformer?
Gilles Aujard: As we’re coming from the movie and animation industries, we think storytelling has a huge impact on the players. With a 3D sidescrolling platformer, we’re able to get that story flowing in a linear way, with directed events or cameras triggered in a cinematic way.
This will enable the player to unfold the story and the characters within a controlled storytelling and small cutscenes. We want to make it feel natural to the player, without breaking the rhythm of the gameplay.
Q: You guys won’t be releasing the game for PS4 and Xbox One, right? Was the decision due to last-gen hardware limitations or you just wanted to develop the game for new consoles?
Gilles Aujard : The visuals are empowered by volumetrics lighting and the game’s mechanics are based on dynamic animations. That could cost a bit on older hardware. We don’t want to restrain ourselves and the gameplay on these matters.
Nonetheless, we think that by the time of the release in 2024, the market will be mainly focused on new consoles and streaming services, and it’ll engage the studio’s tech for future releases.
Q: From which platformer game, Darwin’s Paradox is inspired the most?
Mika Tanguy: Not one in particular, because each game has a great ingredient that defines it and that inspired us.
Of course landmark games such as Playdead’s Limbo or Inside are great inspirations, as well as Little Nightmare from Tarsier Studios.
But there will be several differences in Darwin’s Paradox, with more platforming and action phases. Our main character, an octopus, can climb everywhere, jump, swim, camouflage and many more.
He has a huge span of actions and capacities that enables a rich and original level design.
Q: The game is titled as Darwin’s Paradox. Does the title reflect the nature of the game in any way? If so, how?
Gilles Aujard: Yes indeed. Our main character is Darwin. The evolution of cephalopods and especially the octopus, is separated from all the other species branches at the beginning of the Evolution tree, related by Charles Darwin’s theory.
So our character is quite an exception. Within the game, as well, he’s apart from the environment he fell into.
Q: You guys are using Unreal Engine 5 for your project. Any specific reasons for choosing it? How do you think the UE5 will assist you guys better for Darwin’s Paradox?
Gilles Aujard: The engine is still in its first versions, but has built-in features that attracted us. We believe the new Chaos engine will make the dynamics look better and more efficient. The working prototype has been done in UE4, and we’d like to have unlimited creation possibilities.
As said before, we think the output to the next gen console will be a plus.
Q: Let’s talk about gameplay a bit. We know that it’s a platformer. It’s quite an interesting genre with a lot of creative freedom, right? How do you guys plan to make Darwin’s Paradox unique from other great platformer games out there?
Mika Tanguy: We aim for a cinematic gameplay experience and story.
The animation of the characters and game mechanics are crucial to that end, and can be scripted in a linear timeline that the platformer genre allows, in contrast to the 3D open world game genre where players have to find the path.
Also the character’s genuine capacities enable a great span of movements through the game’s dangerous environment.
Q: Humor usually plays an important role in platformers. Will Darwin’s Paradox use humor to keep players engaged?
Of course! and that’s the basis of Darwin’s Paradox story and characters. We think in this game genre the comedy can be in the spotlight, in contrast to usually depressed and grim ambiances. We want the players to smile and have fun throughout the game.
The game will be rhythmized by clichés and references from pop culture and the golden age of 1950s science fiction.
Q: Can you share any plot details for Darwin’s Paradox? What will be the eventual goal of our protagonist?
The game takes place in the 1950s on the US East coast. Darwin the octopus is fished out from the ocean and awakes in a strange food factory. The player will discover the factory is being controlled by Aliens, roughly disguised as humans. There’s a vast Alien conspiracy in that factory, that wants to take over the human race. During its journey to go back to the ocean, Darwin, without knowing, might save the world.
The story is inspired from the golden age of US science fiction: it produced lots of Alien-themed movies during that period. The cold war was prominent and induced fear of a possible invasion in those productions.
There’s a second layer in the game within the food factory: you can view it as an allegory of Nature vs. Industry.
Q: Darwin’s Paradox will also feature some sort of puzzles right? Do you plan on including tricky puzzles or make them relatively easier for a broader audience?
We aim for a broader audience. Puzzles are simple because they reflect real life mechanics.
Observation, logic and locomotion will be key in order to win.
Q: As a new Indie developer, what’s your take on the current indie scene in the gaming industry. How do you think the Indie games genre can improve in our industry?
AAA’s have a real force and financial power to make great and very long lasting games with unlimited content, as the technical boundaries are pushed away every year.
In the indie world, we believe that constraints of budget & teams, help to focus onto the main subjects : artistic freedom and a great gameplay. This enables more creativity, reactivity and originality in our opinion.
As mentioned in the interview, the game is targeting a 2024 release so we are still far off from the release. By then, the next-gen consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series) would have more sales and naturally, it made sense to make the game next-gen only. Hopefully, we will be seeing more of the game in near future.