April 18, 2017
Welcome to Emerald, a survival horror game where you must figure out how to return home, wherever or whatever that may be. You have been captured by mysterious hierarchical creatures who cannot be killed with simple gunfire and the like. You must escape their fortress and mysterious realm with the use of stealth, quick thinking, and sheer willpower.
As I am most proficient with Xbox controllers, these controls will be for the Xbox 360. These are standard controls. They may be adjusted in the “Options” menu.
- Start – Pause Menu
- Contains: “Resume Game”, “Load Game”, “Options”, and “Quit Game”
- Select – Item Inventory
- Categories: “Weapons”, “Ingredients”, and “Relics”
- These “relics” are key items. Once obtained they will only disappear after they have served their proper function.
- There are only 5 weapon slots. The player decides which weapons are worth keeping and which can be switched around. Once an essential weapon has been discovered, it will take up the slot permanently. There are only 2 such weapons in this game.
- Left Joystick – Move player (walk, run, crawl)
- Left Button – No function
- Right Joystick – Camera/Aim weapon
- Right Button – Dive forward (while running)
- Directional Pad – Select dialogue options (when applicable)
- X – Grapple (no weapon in hand), swipe (melee weapon in hand), strike (gun in hand)
- A – Select
- B – Crawl/crouch (when not standing next to objects that can be climbed) or climb (when standing next to climbable item)
- Y – Adrenaline Rush (run faster, attack harder, faster for 20 seconds [real time])
- This charges as your “Tolerance” bar is reduced. When your Tolerance is critically low, you may use Adrenaline Rush to escape or fight your way through a difficult situation.
- Left Trigger – Block or struggle (when being held by enemy)
- Left Shoulder – Hold breath (hold down when standing still, crouching)
- Right Trigger – Shoot gun
- Right Shoulder – No function
The Game Structure
– The player may walk, run, crawl, crouch, dive, and climb low objects that display the “climb” icon when the player stands next to them. They may attack with fists, or when holding an item that is listed in the “items” category, with melee weapons. They may also use firearms, which show up later in the game.
– Players can pick up items that are indicated as selectable. Players can hide in shaded areas and crevices.
– The player may also open doors.
– The game is only in 1st person perspective.
– The game autosaves: there is an automatic autosave after every cutscene and upon entering rooms.
– The game has several levels; as you progress, the game’s difficulty increases, and it becomes more difficult to restore Tolerance.
– As it is almost impossible to kill enemies during the beginning of the game, much of the game will require stealth and involve puzzles. The attainment of key weapons sometimes indicates an increased difficulty in the game.
- The Character Adjustments
At the beginning of the game, the character is named by the player. To make the game more personal, there is also a character customization option. However, as this is a first-person game, these options are very limited. The player can choose whether their character has a masculine or feminine voice (when breathing, shouting, crying, etc.) and can also choose from several skin tones (pale, medium, tan, deep, and very deep). At points where the player should be able to see the main character’s reflection (on water or other glassy surfaces), they will only see the character’s silhouette obscured with a deep gray.
- Dialogue Options, Gameplay, and Endings
- At certain times during the game, there are dialogue options the player can choose from. Although they may seem random at first, the player is actually speaking to the angel that will help guide them later in the journey.
- There are almost always four text options. 2 of them are melancholic options, and the other two are euphoric options.
- If the player generally chooses melancholic responses, the angel will guide them less throughout the game, provide less assistance, and may even be absent during crucial and difficult parts of the game.
- If the player shows euphoria, the angel will provide more help and advice. This makes the game a bit easier, especially nearing the end.
- These facts, however, will have to be confirmed or denied by the players of the game.
- Melancholy and euphoria will also affect the game’s endings. There will be four game endings.
- Health is taken when the player is attacked, harms themselves while in a frenzy, or takes fall damage.
- The player can be injured; injuries to the body reduce the size of the health bar until a cure is found. When a player is injured, a small icon next to the health bar will indicate the injury (broken arm, broken leg, broken finger, cracked skull, broken jaw). Most of these injuries will limit mobility.
- The cave system in which most of the game takes place has molds and fungi growing in places. These can be harvested and used to restore health and treat injuries. Health items are stored in the “Ingredients” menu. The set limit is 50 health items. These items can also be found processed and placed in vials throughout the game.
- Health Restoration Items:
- Immortal Growth (Mold, restores 20 HP)
- Karabul’s Wrist (Mold, restores 50HP)
- Injury Treatment Items:
- Moon Ice (Fungus)
- Milialik (Fungus)
- The Tolerance Bar
- Tolerance is an asset as crucial to the game’s functioning as health. It appears in a white bar below the red health bar.
- Tolerance is a measure of what the main character can handle. As the situation the player is going through is foreign, stressful, and riddled with nonsense, their tolerance for the situation dwindles with time.
- The only thing that can restore Tolerance is looking at the moon (like in the cutscene).
- It is relatively easy to restore Tolerance in the first third of the game. As you progress, finding openings where the moon is visible becomes difficult.
- As tolerance depletes, it becomes increasingly difficult for the main character to discern reality from illusion.
- There are certain rooms where Tolerance is automatically drained to zero. In these rooms, shadows can be interacted with (climbed, attacked), and the player hears voices (usually whispering nonsense) and sounds that belong to no one. When Tolerance is low and there are enemies in the room, the player may lose control of the character. An AI will control the main character, causing them to panic and run in circles or hit their heads against walls and altars. On a rare occasion, the character may scream, which may attract enemies.
- Moon shards can be collected to increase the Tolerance bar, and increasing your character’s overall endurance
- Misc. Crucial Aspects
- There is only one character that the player can control.
- Enemies and allies are present in the game. These characters can be interacted with (speaking to, killing, stunning). However, allies cannot be hurt by player attacks.
- One crucial ally is the angel, whose interactions with you influence the course of the game.
- There are other NPCs present throughout the game. These characters can seldom be interacted with.
- Most objects can be interacted with (climbed, opened, added to inventory, etc.) as long as it is indicated on the screen. Ex. (B) to Climb when standing next to box.
- At certain points in the game, shadows can be interacted with. They can be climbed (object shadows) or stepped on/touched (enemy shadows).
- Enemies can respond to indirect interaction. Enemies will follow the sound of bullets or breaking objects, forcing the player to find a hiding space if they do so. Enemies have glowing lights on them that activate if they spot you or a nearby ally.
- In-game, allies are immortal. They cannot die outside of cutscenes. However, they usually cannot protect you and may alert enemies at undesirable times.
The World Structure and Aesthetics
- This is a 3D game.
- The graphics are primarily realistic but a bit stylized. The game contains heavy black shadows in both the environment and on characters. The colors of the environment are a bit muted; the saturation for many of the background is reduced to so that everything is bleak, but not grayscale.
- To counter this, things such as flames, water, marble, enemies, plants, healing fungi/mold, and moonlight are vivid. The blood is also deep and rich so that it stands out against the floor/walls/etc.
- Enemies appear a bit bleak, and have a lot of neutrals in their color palettes.
- However, allies are usually more vividly colored.
- This game takes place in a realm that appears to be earth but just isn’t the same. The sky is green; a deep green at night and a brighter, ashen green during the day. The area is primarily grasslands. The grass is ankle length and the plains are windy. The land is flat until it reaches a large mountain range that sits amongst the flat lands. This is where most of the game takes place.
- Within the mountain is a grotesquely intricate and beautiful cavern and cave system. It is lit by large torches that burn varying shades of green and blue. The floor is dirt near and in the more run-down areas, but other floors are black marble.
- There are openings in the ceiling too small to crawl through and oftentimes too high to climb to, where the sky is visible. Here, players can look at the moon. Some rooms contain intricate “cathedrals” and other rooms of ritual.
- Altars can be climbed and structures (sculptures, etc.) can be hidden behind.
- There are many rooms that enemies simply patrol. Enemies also patrol some passageways and halls. Rooms containing major enemies or bosses are often more intricate.
- Rooms and passageways can contain glowing fungus and molds, used for healing. Some can even be found in water.
- There are rooms filled with dead humans and creatures. There is running water and even rooms containing artificial bodies of water, often occupied by enemies.
- Most rooms contain heavy areas of shadow that can be used for hiding.
- The world around you can change with fear. As Tolerance goes down, the impossible becomes completely doable. You can climb the shadows of objects, walk on them, swing on them, etc.
- The music in this is always low and haunting. It is background noise, just like the sound of dripping water. However, when an enemy spots you, the music swells to an urgent volume and pace until you die or escape.
- The music is also urgent when you are being chased, although the chase music is different than the detection music.
- This game only contains one boss battle, which occurs near the end. No music will play during this battle.
- Music will play when you meet allies. Because there aren’t many allies, they will have their own themes.
- This game will have a lot of echo, as it mostly takes place in a cavern, and most of the rooms have high ceilings.
- When out in the plains, there will be the sound of the wild blowing and the rustling of grass.
- When in the caves, there will be the echos of feet against the marble (the sound in the dirt rooms is muffled), falling pebbles, dripping or running water.
- There are also sound attacks for stabbing, weapons deflecting off of metallic-skinned enemies, gunshots and gunshot echoes, blows from blunt weapons, weapons hitting objects.
- As for voices, the main character is primarily a silent protagonist. You can hear them breathe, grunt, scream, cry, etc. All of their actual words are expressed through the dialogue options.
- Different races of enemies all have different cries. Some of them are more metallic screeches while some of them have low, beastly shouts. They all make noise when they are hurt, die, or spot you.
- Allies usually speak in-game.
- The aim for this game is to make the players feel isolated, anxious, lonely, and tense.
- The players should also be vigilant; they should always be on their toes. The player should never relax or feel too comfortable their first time playing.
- Although this game will not contain cheap jump scares, the player should feel as if something could pop out at them at any time.
- The lack of sound at during some parts can incite fear of the unknown; the player does not know what to expect. Every other sound around them is clearly audible.
- The rise in volume of the music can also do the same, as it will bring on a sense of urgency, and the need to run, hide, or escape.
- I also believe that this game plays much with fear of the unknown. An enemy can emerge from anywhere after hearing a noise.
- The enemies do not speak human language. I believe that including English-speaking creatures humanizes too much, and would bring the player too much comfort. English means that they can be negotiated with. I want these creatures to be completely alien.
- Losing control of the main character when Tolerance has been depleted breaks the 4th wall, which may at first shock players.
You are on a plane headed somewhere; the trip is smooth until things begin to go awry. The plane is hijacked, leaving you to wonder why your life alone was spared, and what kind of creatures the hijackers were. These inhuman creatures kidnap you and take you as prisoner in their formidable fortress- a cave and cavern system within a strange mountain in the middle of a grassy plain. There are glassy, iridescent restraints on your wrists, and a creature several creatures, cloaked in shadow with glowing green lights in the middle of their bodies are communing a few feet in front of you. They look when they see you stir. One comes forward, brandishing smooth, steel claws, and reaches for your eyes. Your character screams and thrashes for dear life. Your vision goes white. You wake up on your back in a pool of shallow water. From far above, moonlight shines down onto your face.
The creatures you were captured by are the Djenthe, gods of another realm, banished to live their existence in an artificial dimension, wedged between two other whole dimensions (our universe and the Djenthi universe). The banished Djenthe have taken a liking to capturing airplanes and space shuttles around earth, transporting it through a fragile hole between the two dimensions and torturing and killing the humans aboard. You are one such human.
By utilizing the strange and almost impossible rules of this dimension, your must navigate the many layers of this fortress, also called the Della. You must hide in shadows and move silently to avoid being caught and murdered. You begin in the prison area, located on the lowest level of the fortress, the caverns. A voice tells you that in order to escape, you must break the chains of the beast that has been held prisoner here for 30,000 years. You move up levels, but ironically, as you move up, the moonlit caverns of the underground become dark, dank caves where remaining sane becomes an increasingly difficult task. The creatures at the upper levels are more vigilant, and are quicker to catch you.
There are five chains that need to be broken by the main character. Two ankle chains, found in the east and west prisons of the third level of the caverns, two wrist chains, found in the east and west prisons of the second level caves, and finally, the neck chain, which is located in the sacrificial cathedral of the fifth level of the caves.
Your only help comes from fellow human and prisoner Hera Cairn, who you meet amongst a pile of dead humans and other species of sentient beings on the first floor of the caves. She helps introduce you to the structure of the caves, and the enemies that can be found on that level. She also helps you find the molten machete, a weapon that is quite a bit more effective than the glass knife and steel pipe you found in the caverns.
As you progress, you fight sadistic gods and creatures who only have your death on their mind, whilst trying to remain sane.
Your other help may come from Esalthedisia, a rebellious angel who was dragged into this dimension against their will. After the release of the ancient god, Ilo Segyar, the 30,000 year prisoner, the fortress is destroyed by his wrath and pent up anger. You are not spared the violence. You must kill the ancient god, Ilo Segyar, and find your way back to your universe.
The game begins when you, the player, on a plane. The game is in first-person. You are reclined in your seat, listening to music (the game’s opening theme) when the lights begin to flicker and turbulence increases. People begin to stir and talk amongst themselves. A baby begins to cry. A flight announcement reads:
“Good evening flight 22B9. We are experiencing a big or turbulence due to bad weather. The seatbelt signal-” the voice cuts off. Everyone is silent. The seatbelt signal goes on. People seem to relax. All is silent. Then, the lights begin flickering rapidly and the plane begins to lurch and shake violently. A commotion is heard at the front of the plane. You panic and shut your eyes. When you open them again, only a few lights have come back on. No one makes a sound. The plane is losing altitude; the people have passed out. The plane is shaking, losing altitude, and you stand to inspect your surroundings.
This is where the cutscene ends. Your Life bar (green) and Tolerance bar (white) appear at the top right corner of the screen, along with your empty item display box at the bottom right corner. And icon on the screen indicates that you can turn and inspect your surroundings. No one is conscious. After a few seconds, you can hear the sound of heavy footsteps coming down the aisle. An icon tells you to sit down by pressing B. You are told to hold your breath by holding down the left shoulder (LB). You watch through one cracked eye as something concealed in the shadows hulks past you, slowly. Quiet, ominous music plays, getting louder as it comes closer and reducing in volume as it passes by. When it is past, you are told to let go of the button/your breath.
You hear your character let go of their breath. The music comes to an abrupt stop. There is a pause.
There is another immediate cutscene; you are suddenly grabbed from behind and dragged from your seat. Your Tolerance drains immediately, but Adrenaline Rush has not been activated yet. Your voice is panicked and you grab for your seat, the seatbelt, the hair of other passengers, anything you can manage, but to no avail. You are given the option to repeatedly pull the left trigger to struggle from its grip. If you fail to do so, you will be thrown from the plane, die, and start from the part where the first cutscene ends. If you succeed, you tear from the enemy’s grip. Your vision is very blurry and shaky; you are told to tap X to attack. It does nothing. You are told to hit yellow for Adrenaline Rush (this does not adhere to the 10 second limit as this is the tutorial. The effect lasts until the player successfully crawls under the enemy); the screen flashes white and you are told to double-tap B to crouch, then move forward. The music is loud now, and the plane is now falling out of the sky. You crawl at startling speed towards the back of the plane. You double-tap B again to stand. There is a parachute next to the emergency door. You are told to tap A to take the parachute, then rapidly tap A to open the door.
Cutscene commence; you turn to see the creature walking towards you. The lights are out and it’s merely a shadow. You see another one behind it. You push the door open; air is sucked out of the cabin and the plane is sent spinning. You jump forward. The plane continues forward; you’re looking up at the moon as you free fall, and your Tolerance bar fades in and regenerates. You see the plane freeze in mid air and you make a startled noise. The cutscene ends and the game autosaves. You are still falling and scramble to release the parachute. You are told to press A to do so. As you’re floating down, there is no music. The dark world fades into view; vast grasslands and some low mountains in the distance. You hit the ground rather hard and mess up your ankle. Your life bar fades into view and some of your life is drained from the damage.
Here, the screen shows that you can switch to 3rd person perspective if you so choose. You inspect your surroundings. You are surrounded by nothing but medium-length grasses. You sit cross-legged in the grass and rub your ankle. The grasses rustle for a few seconds. You look to the right, and the plane has landed perfectly, about 500 feet away. A very tall creature is standing next to it. It turns towards you. After a moment, something on its body flashes green, and it begins to run towards you at an alarming speed. You are told to double tap B to get on your stomach and crawl. You can crawl in any direction for about 20 seconds before it catches up to you. No matter where you are, it will appear in front of you when you involuntarily blink after the 20 seconds. It will grab you, and although you can struggle and attempt to fight it, others will appear, green lights glowing on various parts of their bodies, and overpower you. The screen fades to black as you are overtaken.
White text will fade onto the screen:
“Are you still falling?” There will be a graphic representing a directional pad on the screen. Each point will show a different dialogue option.
← “I flew.”
↑ “I must be dead.”
→ “Is this a dream?”
↓ “I wish I’d died.”
Screen fades to black. The game autosaves here.
This is the end of the introduction and tutorial. The purpose of this is to establish a main character, antagonists, and to give context to the character’s situation, as well as to give the players a basic feel for the game’s controls.
- Ending 1 (This ending is activated if the player chooses primarily euphoric text options and chooses to save Hera.)
- Cutscene. There is no music. You stumble outside alongside Hera. The sky is a brighter, more emerald green. The world is still bleak, however. You walk forward into the grassy plains, the world outside open and directionless. The camera is fixed behind you as you walk away; this will be be the first time you see your character in the 3rd person perspective. Your character is wearing a white, long-sleeve button-down and black pants. The back of their head, however, is obscured by a bright, emerald green halo. The wind is blowing. You walk away until your character and Hera are too far away to be seen. The game ends. White credits scroll over a black screen.
- Ending 2 (This ending is activated if the player chooses primarily melancholic text options and chooses to save Hera.)
- Cutscene. There is no music. You stumble outside alongside Hera. The sky is the same, dusty, gray-green it was when you entered this world. The camera is fixed as the characters walk away from it into the grassy plain. This time, your character’s head is obscured by a dull, shimmery-gray halo. When the characters are relatively far away from the camera, Hera collapses. The game end with you shaking her, trying to wake her. Your halo fades to black as the screen fades. The game ends. The credits scroll over a black screen.
- Ending 3 (This ending is activated if the player chooses primarily euphoric text options and chooses to sacrifice Hera.)
- Cutscene. There is no music. You stumble, alone, out into the sprawling, grassy plains. The skies are a plain, natural green. Again, the camera is fixed as you continue forward, your head obscured by a wine red halo. You continue on, the wind blowing the grasses until you’re too far to be seen. The game ends. The screen fades to black and the credits roll.
- Ending 4 (This ending is activated if the player chooses primarily melancholic text options and chooses to sacrifice Hera.)
- Cutscene. No music. You stumble, alone into the plains, wind blowing around you. The skies are a deep, almost black green. Your head is obscured by a pure black halo. You stumble on; your movements are labored. When you are relatively far from the fixed camera, you let out a blood-curdling scream before you collapse. Black lightning (highlighted with white) flash run across the clouds. The game ends. The screen fades to black, and the credits roll.
The Major Characters
- Player and Allies
- Main Character (named by player)
- This character was on a plane before they were thrust into an impossible situation. This character is silent and anxious, but resilient as well.
- Hera Cairn
- This character aids you for a good portion of your journey. She, having been trapped in this realm longer than you, she maintains her cool better than you can. She may calm you when you are in a frenzy. However, she is defiant and mischievous, which lands her into some trouble. When she loses her cool, she is reduced to a sad and anxious mess. Near the end of the game, you may save her life or sacrifice her for an exclusive weapon.
- This is the angel that guides you through your journey. They come to you in the form of a glowing white ribbon that twists through the air to move. This is a very powerful creature, and you never know why they are so willing to help you out. They ask you seemingly random questions, and depending on your answers, give you advice or alert you when there are difficult-to-see enemies up ahead, or how certain enemies can be defeated. If the main character is primarily pessimistic, this character may disappear completely, or come to you with nothing to say.
- These are tall creatures with bronze, metallic fur and feet of curved steel. These creatures, when alerted, spark a green flame from the tips of their heads and are capable of running at high speeds. As these creatures are high in caste, they are encountered in the fancier sections of the cavern. They have steel claw and a hole in the middle of their bodies that glows green when they sense your presence. These creatures emit a metallic screech when they see or capture you. These particular creatures enjoy ganging up on their prey and torturing them before killing them. They are also in charge of many prisons within the cavern.
- The vakarae are lightning fast creatures who prefer scaling walls and ceilings to travel. The color of their metal coats often take on the color of whichever surface they crawl along, but when standing on two legs, the coat returns to its original silver. Their arms and legs are very thin and composed of a black, lightning-like energy. Their heads are metal and resemble a showerhead, with little green lights around the edges that turn white when it detects you.
- Azak are seldom alone. As they are blind and function at a low mental capacity, despite relying on a keen sense of smell, they are almost always assisted by a vashae. They are animal-like in stature; quadrupedal, but unable to make sounds due to their lack of mouths. They do have a hole located above the chest that glows with a green light when they are startled or when they smell you. These are slow creatures that walk with a sway in their gait. If they spot you, they will use a steel growth located above the anus, slamming it against the floor to alert nearby enemies of a strange presence. They are covered in the same fur-like metal that covers the vashae.
- These are crystalline, polygonal creatures made of sharp edges. Their gray organs can be seen from the outside. These creatures have keen eyesight and are highly intelligent. They hover, and therefore make no sound when travelling. These creatures are very physically strong and prone to fits of anger, which can make them vulnerable at times. These creatures can cut easily through water, and often choose to spend much of their time underwater. If you are spotted by them, their entire bodies change to the color of an emerald. They take pleasure in killing their enemies.
- Ilo Segyar
- This is the final boss of the game. As this ancient god is extremely large and volatile, the creatures of the cavern keep it locked up. Its head can be seen from outside of the cavernous mountain. Its body parts are chained up in various parts of the structure, and the player must unchain this creature slowly as they progress. It has the appearance of a severely burned human, and its skin is covered in blisters and other marks of abuse. Once you release it, Ilo Segyar goes on a rampage, destroying much of the mountain and cavern. Although you helped the creature escape, you must destroy it, as you are seen as a threat to it as well. Once you defeat this creature, its spirit manifests in the form of a halo behind your head. You will not see the halo until the very end of the game, however.
- “Glass” knife
- This knife, seemingly made of glass, cannot kill your enemies, as they are much too strong, but may stun them when you strike their weak points with it.
- Steel Pipe
- This weapon is basically useless, unless you plan on killing other humans with it. This item can be carried for peace of mind.
- Molten machete
- This dangerous weapon can injure the metallic flesh of your enemies due to its extreme temperature. This weapons glows orange, and white at its hottest parts.
- Nail gun
- This gun shoots out white-hot metal at a very high speed. This gun is capable of killing enemies when shot at weak points, or disable them when shot at other parts of their bodies.
- Spirit of Esalthedisia
- This gun is loaded with the infinite body and soul of the angel Esalthedisia. It is capable of killing the god Ilo Segyar.
Game Dynamics and Rhetoric
- There is little time to explore in this game. Players must work their hardest at reacher their goal: escape the Della.
- The player will, however, have to take time to learn about how the world of the game functions, and how they can successfully sneak past or defeat enemies without getting caught.
- The message of this game is ambiguous. I want players to draw their own conclusions and theorize about its meaning. I think it would be interesting to hear what people think the meaning of this game is. I don’t quite know what it is myself.