Interview: Eitr’s got Soul

As has become a sort-of tradition at PlayStation’s E3 conference, the platform holder showed a snappy sizzle reel of upcoming indie games from publisher Devolver Digital.

Last year, there were a number of interesting titles, including Eitr, a 2D RPG title – coming to PS4 and PC – with more than a passing resemblance to a certain hardcore RPG series.

This, of course, was a sizeable moment in the studio’s history.

That was probably the best feeling in the world,” coder Tobi Harper (pictured, right) tells MCV.

We used to watch E3 all the time on the internet and stream it and fantasise about sitting there in the crowd watching the whole thing. Then we were actually there and to have your game come up on a big screen and people are watching it – that was a dream come true really.”

Eitr only started development the year before. Eneme – a two-man team consisting of Harper and artist David Wright (pictured, left) – had worked together for a long time on small projects. But Eitr is the first game the duo decided to see through to the end.

We followed tutorials and used to make little twin-stick shooters and shmups and those kinds of simple games,” Wright says.

We even made projects that were similar to Flappy Bird and stuff like that. The problem was we didn’t play those sort of titles, we had strong backgrounds in RPGs. All of the old games I used to play were things like Diablo and Lineage. I always had this love for RPGs. Eitr was the first one we started making and in turn it was the first project that we enjoyed developing and stuck to.”

Looking at the game – with its high difficulty, slow combat, red health bar and green stamina metre – Eitr has certainly taken its fair share of inspiration from the Dark Souls series.

The idea was originally to blend elements from games like Souls and Zelda,” Wright explains. We were also trying to blend things from the RPGs we love like Diablo, Lineage and Path of Exile. It’s a mix of all the games we enjoyed.

"Dark Souls is my personal favourite game of all time and Eitr expresses that clearly. That game shines through when it comes to Eitr’s inspirations. In the last five or ten years, Dark Souls has had a huge influence on the industry, especially on indie studios. The systems that [Souls studio] From Software designed in the game are very old school and we indies love old school games.”

Harper adds: A lot of releases that you play these days hold your hand. Having that feeling of playing a game where you are not being led anymore and that challenges you is reminiscent of the old school games.

That’s why it has such a strong influence on us especially because we wanted to make a game that would challenge even us, rather than something that you can play on autopilot. We wanted players to focus on what they are doing. A lot of old games like Mega Man required a lot of focus. We wanted to basically make a game we wanted to play.”

The team has also been inundated with requests for code from many YouTubers. But then Dark Souls-focused content creator VaatiVidya got in touch to see about covering the game. So Eneme gave him a code in order to reach its target audience.

He makes a lot of Souls videos and is really into those games. So for him to play our game and give his output and feedback on it was very educational for us,” Harper says. He was the best person to give the game to. And there’s a lot of Souls fans who already watch his videos and now are interested in the game.”

So far, Eitr has been announced for PS4 and PC. But many fans are asking for a Vita edition – and Eneme is listening.

We haven’t made a decision yet. It’s something we are thinking about doing, but haven’t decided,” Wright says. It’s likely going to be more looked into after the game is released.”

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