Level: Prologue
Level: The Wilds
Level: The Walls

Prologue

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Deeper into the swamp

The environment continues to shift:  after the dense forest near the Fountain, the crumbling ruins the heroes have been exploring now appear to have sunk into a swampy mire.  Ancient buildings and grasses emerge from the water at odd angles.


 
Intent

Not all systems are equal in terms of their importance to teach the player.

The concept of a "Fury bonus" (a special-attack meter built by attacking or defending without taking damage) is a second-tier mechanic of the game.  During discussions, we decided that if the player didn't necessarily learn the move at this moment, they were likely to stumble upon its use through play (and, in fact, could probably beat the game without learning it).

Weapon racks, on the other hand, are crucial to success, so I was instructed to place one across the player's path in such a way that they needed to "break it open" to progress.



Exploration

More skeletons appear to block the player's path, but these are quickly dispatched with mighty swings of Caddoc's sword.  The grasses also yield to his blade, revealing long-forgotten side paths that lead to hidden riches.

Back on the main path, the heroes spot an "island" appearing to float in mid-air—it appears that a deep pool has drained away sometime in the past, leaving the solid structure in the middle surrounded by open space.  On the "island" sits an ancient throne... and the mystical axe spoken of by the Death Stone spirit earlier.


 
Process

The optional paths and puzzle here were added as a bit of a pace-breaker.  To this point, the player's path—though winding—had been entirely linear.  As the number of new mechanics to introduce was starting to wind down, I wanted to make sure the level felt comparative to those that come after it, which feature numerous optional branches and small puzzle sequences.

Hoping that the majority of players would start to recognize our "cuttable bushes" (first seen back during the archery tutorial section but repeated later in several levels), I placed one of these right next to the main path on a branch that dead-ends at a bag of gold.

If a player interacted with the "Death Stone corpse" earlier, the heroes point out the axe referred to in the story it told.  In case they didn't, I include another staple of Hunted's trickier puzzles:  a golden plaque containing a hint.  (The contents of these hint plaques were intended to be rhymes... therefore I left the writing of them to others.  I cannot be held responsible for their contents.)

The solution here is intended to be somewhat obvious, given that it calls back to a trick that the player learned as E'lara only a few minutes before—creating a fire arrow and using it to light a brazier.  However, there's a trick to this one, since the player is trapped in the body of Caddoc and only E'lara is capable of lighting arrows.

Although Hunted can be played cooperatively, it can also be enjoyed entirely as a single-player experience, so any puzzle step that requires a second player must also be able to be done by the "buddy" A.I. character.  We intended to not let the buddy character solve the puzzle for a player playing alone, however, so he must indicate to the A.I. what steps he's figured out.

So, in this case, the player interacts with the lit brazier to entice E'lara to light an arrow.  Then, when the player approaches the item in question to light (an unlit brazier on the "island" on which the axe sits), the A.I. performs the task and completes the puzzle.

A note about development:  as mentioned elsewhere in these pages, finding clever ways to reuse elements is a key of successful game design;  observant players may notice that the "walkway" that magically constructs itself when the brazier is lit is actually a wall segment used elsewhere in the game (which is just playing its "opening" animation in reverse)!



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