“If you’re going through Hell, keep going”
That’s the Winston Churchill quote that Latvian developer Aivars Priedītis used to define his upcoming title, Regret– but the quotation echoes his own development process as well.
It was a long four years ago that Priedītis first conceptualized Regret, a narrative-driven survival-horror game heavy on the psychology. He wanted to create something that could affect his players and remind them of their own lives.
“Video games are the perfect way to tell the stories, to inspire people, maybe even give them strength to achieve something in their life, should they connect with the character,” Priedītis says. “You don’t see these sort of games very often.”
Regret follows Keenan, a teenage boy, and his pet fox, Curo. After Keenan’s mother dies, the boy is forced to move in with his father out in the rural town of “Silver Pines.” Upon arrival however, Keenan finds the place has been devastated by a literal living darkness, and his father, a stranger to the boy, has gone missing. Keenan must fight to stay alive, to cope with the loss of his mother, and ultimately fight for his sanity– a personal struggle. Despite some clear inspirations, Priedītis says that Regret is less Silent Hill and more Dead Space or Alan Wake– except without the unanswered questions.
“It’s not about this weird place that seems to be alive and ever changing, it’s about the thing that is living there and changing everything and everybody. It has a reason to exist, and an explanation as to why is it there.”
Regret will feature classic survival-horror conventions, such as puzzle solving and limited ammunition to fight the darkness-spawned monsters. You will need to adapt to the enemies– should you hide or fight and, if so, how? However the game will shake some things up by offering a companion– something not often seen in the genre.
“A companion in a game where you focus on a character’s life and mind in pain is a perfect element. The companion is a weak spot for a character–the perfect enemy, if you will. Imagine the fear of losing the very last piece that is keeping you sane.
“It gives me a wide variety of ways how to write this story. Otherwise it would be, ‘well, here you are, alone in this dark room, go and survive.’ We’ve seen that before, right? Might as well make yet another zombie game. But in Regret you have puzzles. And something to care about.”
Priedītis still has more tricks in the bag, however, and isn’t shy to tease them on Twitter.
— Aivars Priedītis (@s3r10s1n) October 16, 2015
Priedītis has a clear vision for Regret, but it took a lot to get there. He says that the game will be something more, and something different, when players finally get the chance to play. In a way, Regret has been a personal struggle of Priedītis’ own. [Editor’s note: The dead link lead to a personal rant Priedītis made regarding his frustrations with game development.]
“It’s damn hard to write such a story,” Priedītis says, and when you do see games like this, people usually fail to understand the moral. Like Braid that was about this love story, but to people it was just Mario with a rewind button.”
Development challenges haven’t been limited to writing, however; until last year, Priedītis was working on Regret alone, full-time, coding and designing every inch of the game into sleepless hours. Now, he has German composer Thomas Hoehl taking at least some of the weight off.
“The guy gets it, you know. He understands what Regret is about. And to work with such a talented and hard-working person, is an honor to me.”
It’s been a long time in development, and Regret is still a long way off, but Priedītis continues to work hard on the game.
“Quality demands hard work and a metric boat load of time.”
This article was originally published on indiegamemag.com on April 03, 2013, and any dates have been edited accordingly.