We all remember the golden days of the 3D platformers with titles like Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Croc and Spyro The Dragon blessing our consoles. Whilst we still see platformers come along these days, none seem to be able to re-create the same experience that that the classics offered in the good old days.
Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth, the newest release from Australian developers Cardboard Keep, aims to change that by offering a 3D platformer that brings those classic platforming vibes into the modern generation. You can take a look at the game in action in the trailer below:
Looks pretty sweet, right?
We recently got a chance to speak to Calum and Morgan from Cardboard Keep about Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth to find out some new details about the game ahead of its release this week – check it out below:
Q. How would you describe Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth to someone who had never heard of the game?
Calum – Programmer:
It’s a love letter to the 3D platformers, collectathons and action/adventure games of the N64 and PS1 era. If you loved any of the classic mascot games of the late 90s, there’ll be something in Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth for you.
Plus, we want to bring the charm and colour of these titles to a whole new generation.
Q. You’ve mentioned that the game takes inspiration from the much loved classic Nintendo 64 platformers. In what way have these titles influenced Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth’s gameplay?
Morgan – Writer:
The most obvious thing that you’ll notice is the strong visual influence that the classic Nintendo 64 games had on Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth. The most direct comparison people make is to Zelda: Wind Waker, but a lot of the level design and themes come from its earlier brethren. There’s a colourfulness in Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth that was key to all those N64 classics too.
We’ve also drawn inspirations in everything from the items to the music from our favourite collectathons of the era like Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64 and Mario 64. We’ve stayed keenly aware of what kept us coming back to these games and feeling really engaged within them, despite them being far from realistic and happy to break the fourth wall.
Q. The story begins with a young Prince looking for a lost God in an ancient forest. Can you tell us more about this God and what influence it has on the game’s story?
The god is called Nyona, and is the first spirit of the forest – referred to by many as the mother of the forest. So she’s very powerful in her own right and has a very strong sway over, and connection to, the forest.
Prior to the events of the game, she was locked away in the spirit world, and you enter into the forest that’s lost its leader and become quite hostile to outside intrusion. And she’s stuck watching her world fall apart, trying to find some way to fix it. Enter the Wardens.
The bulk of the game’s story revolves around trying to release Nyona, and she’s a driving force in the player character achieving this. She provides insight into the ways in which elements of the world interact, and what remains of her magic is used to empower the Wardens.
Q. The game features three protagonists that the player has to switch between as the progress through the game. How do each of these three characters differ? Do you have a favourite?
They each have a different ability that allows them to influence the world around them, as well as each having separate inventory space the player can use to store weapons. But the big difference between them is their personalities. Each of the characters interacts with the other denizens of the world in their own way, so once you get to know their moods you can choose which character you want to introduce to a new face you meet. This is in stark contrast to games like the Zelda series where characters in the world often interact directly with the player – the silent protagonist is just a conduit. We wanted players to have a choice in their reaction, it’s almost like picking a Warden to talk is picking a response in a Bioware RPG. My favourite is probably Tavian, the character you start as, because he’s a fish out of water and an underdog – he doesn’t get picked as a favourite often!
Nah, Bitt all the way. Bitt’s perspective differs so entirely from the others characters of the game. That’s what keeps me coming back to them!
Q. The world of Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth looks fantastic, with vibrant hand-painted visuals making up the environments. Classic platformers are known for fascinating locations – what sort of locations will the player get to explore in Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth?
Oh gosh, where do we start… we did want to make sure that our environments were hugely varied, with colour palettes, characters and music that set them distinctly apart. That was always one of my favourite things about the Rare games on the N64.
So players will get to explore decrepit subterranean passages, a sacred grove overflowing with life, a recently abandoned fortress town and the remnants of a civilisation lost to time. To name a few!
Q. The player is able to use any weapon the enemy drops in the game, offering a great variety of over sixty weapons. What sort of weapons will players be using to take on their foes?
The weapons you can wield span damage types, attack styles, sizes, speeds and rarities, but most importantly they represent each of the civilizations and technology levels that have inhabited the forest. When you venture into the ruins of different empires you’ll find weapons of their construction and aesthetic, and with their specialties. Stay in the forest proper and you’ll mostly encounter the technology that originated there. Your current collection of weaponry can tell a story of where you’ve just been adventuring.
Q. I’m a big fan of platformers and one of my favourite things about them are the boss battles. Are there any epic boss encounters in Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth?
You bet! There are five bosses in Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth, but in one playthrough you only get to fight four of them (mysterious!). They’re each uniquely designed, and they challenge the skills the player has learnt up until that point – including the unique abilities of each Warden.
I’m personally not a fan of hard boss fights, but others on the team are, so we’ve had a nice push and pull of getting them to feel big and epic without being frustrating.
Q. There have been plenty of hidden secrets in platformers over the years, with ‘Stop ‘n’ Swop’ from Banjo-Kazooie having players scratching their heads for years. Can we expect to find any big secrets or easter eggs in the world of Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth?
Yes! This was a huge inspiration to us as well, I remember obsessing over Stop ‘n’ Swop and Cheato when I was younger. Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth features quite a few nods to the games and other media that inspired us, and there are a range of other secrets in the game that we’re expecting players to take to the forums – or break out a pen and paper – to get to the bottom of.
Q. Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth releases this week on PC, Mac and Linux. Where are players able to purchase the game? Do you have any new details on the upcoming console release?
We’re releasing on Steam, Humble Store and Itch.io on day one, with more storefronts to come – plus you can pre-order the game right now on our website at http://warden-game.com!
While we’re some way away from locking down any dates for console releases, we are planning to hit all three major consoles, plus maybe even more…
Q. Finally, can you tell us something about Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth that no-one outside of the development team knows?
We originally had another two playable Wardens planned during development. There are hints as to the identities and powers of these Wardens hidden in both the Fire Shrine and Abandoned Town levels of the game.
Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth is coming to us from developers Cardboard Keep – find out more and pre-order the game at the official website through this link!