If you like punishing design and smooth game flow look no further. Splasher is wacky, 2D platformer developed by Splashteam. Which consists of Romain Claude working on design, coding, and sound, Richard Vatinel handling the art and graphics, and David Boitier orchestrating the tunes. Some may even know Mr. Claude as the former designer of Rayman Origins, Rayman Legends, and Rabbids Go Home over at Ubisoft. About a week ago, gameplay for the titular game released on Youtube. I was immediately taken in with the fast paced gameplay and challenging level design.
I had to know more. Luckily, my inquiry was met with a response from the main architect of Splasher, Romain Claude. Not only did he agree to answer all my questions but also showcased his passion. The love he had for his creation was so palpable that I had no trouble believing Splasher had won several awards pre-release. Mr. Claude held nothing back regarding in-depth information and what inspires him. Needless to say, I can’t wait to have this game in my hands come early 2017.
Pure PlayStation: When people look at Splasher, they’ll see a fast paced, 2D platformer. I know paint plays a critical role in the gameplay but mind expanding on how Splasher is unique?
Romain Claude: So in the beginning the only thing you can do is shoot water and jump. At this point the game really looks like a traditional platforming and shooting game but with other powers thanks to paint canons, such as sticking and bouncing to walls. Later in the game you will acquire these powers and it’s up to you to choose what surface you want to paint, in what color, and in what order to create the path by yourself.
Pure PlayStation: Were there any specific influences for the game? A certain title or individual? Like Portal liquid for paints?
Romain Claude: Super Meat Boy, Portal 2/Power Of Paint, Battle Block Theater, Splatoon (when the game came out a couple of things inspired me as well, but we were already quite far in the game design process), and Ratchet & Clank (they do platforming + aim assisted shooting quite well). I also reused many things I’ve learned in previous games I’ve worked on, such as Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends.
Pure PlayStation: In the game’s description, you use the word demanding. What do you mean exactly?
Romain Claude: The first levels are quite cool and didactic but as much as you progress, beating a level requires trickier executions. Each liquid is mapped on a button. When you have to juggle with 2 of them, then later on 3 of them, in fast paced platforming sequences, with sometimes less than half a second to choose can very demanding.
Pure PlayStation: Splasher has a time attack and speedrun mode along with “special fun modes,” where you kill all the splashers yourself. Can you explain how they work?
Romain Claude: The speedrun mode features a continuous chronometer from the beginning to the end of the game. Whenever you finish one level you instantly start the next one until you finish the game. No cut scenes and Hub loop. Then you can compare your score with other people in a leaderboard. Some achievements will also be related to this mode.
The time attack mode features a chronometer per level. So the goal is to make the best time possible in a level you choose. Reference times to beat will be proposed for solo rewards such as bronze, silver, gold and platinum medals. This mode will feature leaderboards as well and special achievements too.
The dark mode is a special mode that you unlock after having finished the game once. If you do the game in dark mode, the goal is not to collect your buddies in distress but to kill them. An important thing is the fact that you can replay levels with powers you didn’t have the first time. So in this case it gives new tools to be even more creative in your sinister purpose.
Pure PlayStation: Splasher has picked up a few awards so far. Congratulations! Do you know what part of the game (if not all of it) impressed judges? No need to be modest.
Romain Claude: From what people of the juries said to me afterward : It is mostly because of the high level of polish we had in our demos at the time. I was actually kind of thinking the same way myself. Even today we still have a lot to do, but it was far from being bad (good controls / cameras / animations, nice flow, cool art).
But on the other hand it does not mean the game is truly awesome. (Sh*t I’m being modest!) To be honest, I think there is a bigger and bigger lack of quality in small indie games. These days you see more and more students trying to sell their school project (especially in France because it’s hard to find a job in the game industry.) You see young and un-experimented developers trying to sell their game jam projects, too. So when you see something that looks like an actual game you would like to play, you want to give it a reward just to thank it. And to be honest again, I probably haven’t any chance in big indie festivals like IGF. Holy crap, I’m being modest again!
Pure PlayStation: I know the game is slated for an early 2017 release and the game isn’t finished yet. Do you have any idea how long the game will be or a certain time you’re aiming for? Or are you just focusing on level design and gameplay mechanics?
Romain Claude: Initially I didn’t have any specific target duration. I was just focusing on designing interesting mechanics and designing nice levels to challenge the player with. But now that the game is almost finished, I can tell that it takes around 6 hours to see the end of the game. This is taking into account you are a core gamer and are familiar with 2D platformers. Then you can easily double or triple that time if you want by giving different modes a try and by beating the game 100%.
Pure PlayStation: Lastly, anything you and your team are particularly proud of about your creation?
Romain Claude: That is hard to tell but it’s an ambitious project for just two guys (not including music.) So if we manage to finish and release it, after more than three years of hard labor, we will be at least proud of that.
Splasher is expected to drop on PlayStation 4 sometime in early 2017. As soon as we have an exact date you will be the first to know. We’d like to say a massive thank you to Romain for taking some precious time away from his computer to talk to us.