A Surreal Point-and-Click Adventure Game from Poland

Tormentum – Dark Sorrow is a surreal point-and-click adventure that’s visually inspired by games such as Demon’s Souls. It’s currently campaigning for crowd-funding on IndieGoGo, and, in our opinion, is one to keep an eye out for!

We wanted to know more, so we reached out to Piotr Ruszkowski, the game’s Illustrator, to tell us more about it:

Could you tell us about OhNoo Studio, as well as choosing to use IndieGoGo for funding?

Piotr: OhNoo Studio is small three-man studio, founded in 2012 by Łukasz Rutkowski (animator, graphic designer, project manager), Piotr Ruszkowski (illustrator, animator), and Grzegorz Markowski (Programmer).

I met Łukasz during high school in 1997. We would often spend time together as we shared common interests in SNES and PC games, comics, etc. I was even on the Commodore 64 demo-scene for about 9 years, where I was a cover designer. Anyway, after high school, our ways split for about 5 years, but we met again in 2009, where we started to work with the same educational company; where we met Grzegorz, our coder. We used to work in Adobe Flash, which was our main tool to create all sorts of educational software. We have created games, quizzes, and a bunch of deleted projects that never saw the light of a day (laughs). Sadly, the company fell into trouble in 2012, and we lost our jobs. However, we continued to work for ourselves, with our first project being an interactive childrens storybook called “Amelia and Terror of the Night.” The app was very well received by critics and the public, and while it wasn’t a huge financial success, we decided to hit harder this time with a real adventure game.

However, after almost one and a half years of development, our savings started to become very low. This meant, in order to finish our game, without risk of cancellation, we had to approach one of these crowd-funding sites for help. The reason why chose IndieGoGo was because we are based in Poland, without many contacts in the UK or USA. We would have liked to have considered a Kickstarter campaign, but we needed the local support.

What was the inspiration behind “Tormentum”, and who thought of the name?

Piotr: Well, the whole projecting process was a little bit of chaos. The main inspiration for the game was my darker illustrations, which I would complete in my spare time between work. In that time, I was inspired by many artists, but mostly by Beksiński and Giger. So, when the time came to create an original world for our next game, I thought that these illustrations were a perfect fit for the dark adventure game that we wanted to create. In turn, I started to fill the gaps between the illustrations, and I made a whole world in such style.

As for the name, it was a long and painful process. We had a bunch of names that were already in use, or they were too cheesy. In the end, Łukasz thought of the final name: “Tormentum” – which, in latin, means to torment; which I think perfectly describes the feeling of our hero, as well as ours efforts working on the game! (laughs)

What made you decide to develop a point-and-click adventure game?

Piotr: There were several reasons. First of all, we loved the genre. Łukasz and I played a lot of point-and-click games in the past. For me, the most influential games were Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Gooblins series, Grim Fandango, Dark Seed, and Syberia. Nowadays, adventure games are being modernized, and I think this is a good thing. In my opinion, the best company, right now, is Amanita designs; who inspired the whole world with what a modern adventure game should be. They also proved that its possible to do it using the same tools which we had been using for years, which was Flash. After Machinarium and Botanicula, we knew that we should create our own adventure, or, at the very least, we should try. Another reason we chose point-and-click was because it was a natural progression from our previous work, which was an interactive storybook for children. We already had an engine quite suitable for a game like this, so the idea was to create a more complicated game with inventory mechanics.

How would you explain “Tormentum” to someone unfamiliar with the game?

Piotr: Well, I think it would best be described as an adventure game where you have to solve logical puzzles. The power of your mind is your true weapon in Tormentum – Dark Sorrow. Additionally, I would also recommend it to people with a taste for dark/moody/horror subjects because the art style plays an important part in the game.
What has been the biggest challenge since you’ve been working on “Tormentum”?

Piotr: There were a lot of challenges during the development process. There was a problem with our parallax effect, as well as the animation of our walking hero. The walking animation looked awkward and too slow when moving your character into the background. In the end, we decided to disable the walk of our protagonist while clicking on objects, and it was a good decision. The player now controls the camera, instead of the character. We also had difficulty with the story. In our game, we have some moral choices, and it was challenging to connect all the missing dots. Additionally, figuring out all the puzzles was a pain. We wanted our puzzles to logical, not abstract, so it was kinda hard for us. Needless to say, there have been many difficult decisions to make, and many months of hard work.

Could you tell us what you feel sets “Tormentum” apart from other games in the genre?

Piotr: I think that the dark, moody world is something that really stands out. There are plenty of quality adventure games out there, but their worlds don’t interest me much. In adventure games, I value the creativity of the worlds. I must see something unusual and unique in there. And yet, I often see the “real world” in a cartoony style which doesn’t appeal to me. I love the worlds of “Darkseed,” “Machinarium,” “Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth” where is an entirely different reality. I don’t like to be in a boring world, it must somehow be crazy. I think we achieved that.

Have there been any mechanics that you wanted to include, but didn’t make the cut?

Piotr: Yeah, we thought about including a flying crow that would sit on the shoulder of our hero; which could then be used to fly to places where you couldn’t get to. It was too problematic, though. We also thought about making it possible to switch the worlds, between normal and dark one, but we knew that it would make the scope of the game so much bigger, and we really needed to remain focused as much as possible, so we could finish it.

As a fan of Demon’s Souls, I love the art style! Can you tell us some of the methods you used?

Piotr: We are fans of Souls series, as well. Personally, I have finished Demon’s souls, Dark Souls 1 and 2, and I think that those games have wonderful, fascination worlds! The key is to have a perfect balance between reality and the abstract world. If it’s too much of a percentage of the abstract stuff, then people will get confused. We made certain to keep that in mind when creating the world of Tormentum. You will find many objects from our reality, but with a twist, at other times, though, you will find something totally unusual and strange. To create such world, I was forced to spend hours searching for good references. It was very challenging, but also a necessary process.
Can you tell us something new about the game that we can share with our readers?

Piotr: We want you to experience the game for yourself, so we are planning to release a playable demo version of the game which you can play in your browser. We are working hard on this at the moment, and hope that you will like it.

Finally, how can we help, and when will our readers be able to get their hands on the game?

Piotr: Oh! You can support us through our IndieGoGo campaign, or just by spreading the word – especially to friends who enjoy point-and-click adventure games. The game is planned to be released on October this year!

William Kirk

William Kirk

Editor-in-Chief / Founder at GameCloud
Based in Perth, Western Australia, Will has pursued interests in both writing and video games his entire life. As the founder of GameCloud, he has endeavoured to build a team of dedicated writers to represent Perth in the international games industry, as well as unite his local gaming community.
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