Psychological Horror games genre in video games is once again on the rise mainly due to some great classics Remakes like Resident Evil and upcoming Silent Hill 2. There have been some descent new games in the genre as well and Stray Souls is one of them. The game is also being promoted as an “action-horror” game so we can expect combat to play a major role as well. The game is being developed by Jukai Studio and will be published by Versus Evil.
After watching the announcement trailer, we wanted to know more about the game so we had a quick chat with the developers about Stray Souls. Starting with the introductions, the developer shared:
Jukai Studio is the brainchild of Artur Laczkowski. Having previously worked in a large studio, Artur felt that he wasn’t able to fully express his ideas and development concepts in that environment. It quickly became evident that he would need to spread his wings in order to reach his creative goals. Around this time, Artur’s father started to have some serious health problems and that situation, coupled with the start of the war in Ukraine which directly impacted people close to him, forced Artur to re-evaluate things and take a break from game development. It wasn’t long until his passion returned and Jukai Studio was born. From day one, focus was solely on creating narrative-driven horror games within the indie space. Stray Souls itself was born from a variety of Artur’s prototypes which ended up working better together, than as individual ideas. Once that concept solidified, Artur and his frequent collaborator Pete Wicher were able to move forward with crafting the world and its lore. A handful of other talented folks joined the team during this process and have all been key players in building the game. Currently, Stray Souls can be played from start to finish, but the team is still working on details, improvements and optimization of the game.
Considering the game can be played from start to finish, we can expect the game to stick to its potential 2023 release however, when we asked about a specific release date for Stray Souls, they weren’t able to provide us one.
While talking about the inspirations behind Stray Souls, the developer shared that Resident Evil Remakes were a major inspiration from them but as the development proceeded, they also took motivation from Alan Wake. They want to make a game that appeals to a broader audience:
Once we knew what kind of story we wanted to tell and what our core message was, it was time to think about what Stray Souls would be as a game. We all agreed that we wanted the game to have broad appeal for advanced players but also for folks with little or no experience with games. We took a lot of inspiration from the Resident Evil remakes, although we knew that people who don’t regularly play games might have trouble finding their way around. After some more brainstorming we found further inspiration in Alan Wake. It’s a game that doesn’t have an elaborate inventory, has a deep story and huge levels that are very diverse. We also couldn’t avoid inspiration from such classics as the Silent Hill games, so we got a lot of atmospheric cues from there, albeit with true Jukai Studio flair and a “next-gen” modernist approach. We also got a lot of inspiration from Elden Ring, but that’s not for now and we’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what that means.
Stray Souls will also feature a dialogue system. This dialogue system is designed to have some impact on narrative and what players will be to experience in the game.
We do have a system in place for certain dialogue options that will allow players to shape the story for themselves and draw their own conclusions about what’s really going on in Daniel’s world. This system is also designed to reward players in a variety of ways, either with additional story content or useful items, depending on the choices they make.
While the protagonist won’t have any skills which players can unlock, Stray Souls will offer players some weapon related items and upgrades which can prove very useful during combat.
Stray Souls will also introduce some randomization elements for puzzles, exploration and combat. While solving puzzles, players might not find everything in the same place upon each visit. Same goes for enemy encounters as they could be different for the new playthrough.
There are three key aspects that we wanted to focus on when adding randomization to the game. First is the weather system which allows certain areas to rapidly shift weather patterns from dense fog, to a chilling intensive storm and even a bright, sunny day. Second, key and non-key items are arranged randomly in the game world, which means that solving puzzles will require thorough searching, and health and combat resources may not be where you found them the last time through a given area. Finally, some combat encounters that present a mild challenge the first time around might be so difficult in a subsequent playthrough that there will be nothing left to do but to escape.
While talking about game length, while the developer didn’t give us a number, they do believe that the game can be completed in a few hours:
It depends on the players’ approach. It’s difficult to put an accurate number of hours on it because everyone plays at their own pace. It’s definitely possible for someone to charge straight through the game within a few hours if that’s the experience they want, but for players who want to explore more and see everything the game has to offer, it can be far more rewarding.
Stray Souls team is using Unreal Engine 5 and Metahuman Creator for character creation. When we asked about their experience with Metahuman Creator, the developer replied:
From the very beginning of development we wanted to focus on one main element of MetaHuman which was the head and its skeleton. This technology is how we were able to achieve photorealistic facial animations not commonly seen in games of this scope. We then created a custom system which consists of our own hand-made 3D character models to which we attached the MetaHuman head.
The game will also feature a considerable variety of enemies both bosses and regular ones. Enemy encounters will play an important role for the action element of the game. They don’t want Stray Souls to feel like a Walking-Sim game.
Combat was a very important aspect of Stray Souls for us. We saw a “walking-sim” saturated market and we wanted to bring something more to the table than that. For us, the best approach was to have variety in gameplay, so we designed Stray Souls to have puzzles along with combat. As a result, we have a diverse roster of monsters as well as their bigger brothers, the bosses. Some enemies are small and fast while others are huge and very strong. Nightmare fuel variety guaranteed.
Stray Souls is also coming to PS4 and Xbox One however, the developer revealed that they are developing the game for Current-Gen (PS5 and Xbox Series) platforms. The PS4 and Xbox One will get the ports after that. Naturally, since Stray Souls is a horror game, there is a lot of emphasis on the sound design as well.
There are chances that they might add Dualsense Edge related elements for Stray Souls but at this point of development, they don’t have anything concrete.
Stray Souls is scheduled to release for PC, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S in 2023.