Level: Prologue
Level: The Wilds
Level: The Walls

Prologue

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Swords and Boards

Caddoc leads E'lara onto a rickety platform floating on the swamp water.  More skeletons rise up, but these are armed with swords and rotting bucklers instead of bows and arrows.

Caddoc's abilities are well-suited to combatting these foes—their shields shatter in the face of his furious attacks.


 
Lessons

To this point, although both characters carry shields, the player has not been taught to use them.

In Hunted, using a shield when using a melee weapon is as important as aiming when using a ranged weapon (hence why they're on the same button).

I intentionally haven't given enemies shields until now, either.  Now that they start dropping from downed enemies, the appearance of their "pickup" interface element becomes a reminder to the player to use his shield if he forgets.  The appearance of shielded enemies also raises the stakes slightly, requiring the heroes to more carefully judge when, where, and how to attack.  Shields can always be broken through direct damage, but they do a good job blocking arrows and encourage use of heavy sword attacks (rather than faster-but-lighter attacks) which break them down faster.

Though it's not explained in the tutorial, another "second-tier" system related to shields is that, in Hunted, both enemy and player arrows do more damage up close that from far away.  Therefore, a character getting closer to an enemy in order to use a melee attack on them incurs more risk as he approaches—so a raised shield can be the difference between a rout and a suicide run!



Seraphine Reappears

Here, Seraphine appears again, claiming that the swift enemy response to Caddoc and E'lara was unforeseen.  However, she now imbues Caddoc with the first of his magic-base abilities, a lightning attack which chains between nearby enemies.  As she says it will help them "survive the ancient battleground ahead," the camera pans up to show a vast wasteland covered in scattered bones and dropped weaponry.

The heroes never cross this killing field, however, because as they approach, the ground gives underneath their feet.  The battleground apparently exists on top of a network of tunnels carved to house an ominous shrine.

Caddoc and E'lara land on a deep pile of bones and realize the danger it represents—a potentially endless source of skeletons for the unseen evil power to raise against them.


 
Development

When drawing up the plan for the Prologue, I pitched this moment, and it's become one of my favorites in the level.

Besides the Crawlers faced early on (and briefly mid-way through the level), the enemies the player has been fighting have been resurrected, armed skeletons.  I wanted to present a moment that would inspire terror if it was handled correctly—a sea of bones, representing a potentially insurmountable force if they all raised up in front of the heroes at once.  Others liked the idea but felt it wouldn't be enough to imply the threat: why not show a bunch of skeletons rising to confront the player?

One of the requirements for the level had been to end it facing a demon that the player would be unable to defeat directly.  Since Hunted contains three types of environments (outdoors, dungeon, and city) and the next level takes place in a city, my team wanted this fateful confrontation to take place in a subterranean dungeon.  Therefore, as the skeleton horde appears, we collapse the floor beneath our heroes and drop them from the frying pan into the fire:  directly onto a pile of bones so deep that the bottom can't be seen.

This kicks off the final sequence of the Prologue.

(I had a little trouble convincing the team how this could be made to work, but once we started implementation, I think the idea began to speak for itself.)   The room the characters find themselves in appears to fade into darkness at the edge of the pile of bones.  After a moment for the tension to build, the player's fears finally come true—out of the bones on the pile, skeletons suddenly start to resurrect in large numbers.

They don't have shields, so the player can happily mash on their melee attack buttons to win, but the lightning attack just bestowed is an even more effective tool as it chains from skeleton to skeleton.  (The spell is too powerful for so early in the game however, so we take it away immediately after the fight.)

After the fight ends, the candle lights along the walls appear to raise (though, in actuality, the room's edges were just "cloaked" in a dark shell whose opacity fades out—this was the part I had to convince people would work... it avoids the need for a roomful dynamic lights at the cost of having a large transparent object all around the player).



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