Check out our interview with developers Black Hive Media about their upcoming Metroidvania-style title Kova:
How would you describe Kova to someone who had never heard of the game?
In the game, you take on the role of Kova, an explorer and mercenary who has tried to leave her past behind her. It is as much an action role playing game as it is a story driven exploration narrative. In the beginning of the game you happen across a beacon older than human existence that acts as a jumping off point to disrupt the normal politics and life of different colonies across the galaxy. You take on the mission of solving the mystery of what you uncovered and must work with different factions and colonists to understand the question that has been perplexing to humans for eons: Is there intelligent alien life out there?
It’s been mentioned that Kova features shooting that plays like a traditional FPS but across a 2D environment. How exactly is this implemented in-game?
We gave Kova full directional aiming with a cover system for combat that isn’t typical in a 2d game. While we’ve created this type of control for long-range combat, we also gave her melee for use in close encounters. We aren’t the first to do this in a 2D game, but for a side-scrolling RPG, it’s definitely not the norm.
There’s an emphasis on upgrading both your character and ship in Kova. What kind of improvements will the player be able to make as they work through the game?
In order to gain access to certain areas of the game you’ll need to use the galactic credits that you earn by completing primary and side missions to buy suit chips. Kova’s suit will require these to upgrade her jump pack to hit higher points, shields to take on damage from higher level enemies, new abilities like dash and sprint which will also require a higher capacity suit battery. By upgrading her battery, it will also allow for new weapons and the chance to upgrade a weapons cool down time, damage and clip capacity.
As you fly from planet to planet you will notice your ship will require maintenance on things like the landing gear, life support, thruster, hull and will require refueling. To travel to more distant planets you will need to upgrade each of these to support longer jumps. You’ll earn these upgrades through completing your primary missions and visiting different engineers who will craft these parts for you in exchange for your services.
A lot of time in Kova is spent travelling across and exploring a variety of dangerous Planets. What kind of different Planets will players get to visit in the game and how will they differentiate from each other from a gameplay perspective? Have any of them been inspired by specific locations or can we expect some incredibly unique sights?
The planets are based of ones in our galaxy as we know it. However, we do take a lot of artistic liberties with the flora and fauna on each planet. Some of the areas are also based off the concept of being able to colonize planets with Earth-like atmospheres. While some of the planets have been colonized others will serve as more desolate areas to add their piece to the Fermi puzzle. Some of these elements have been hinted at and teased in the trailers, but their full impact will not be realized until you really dive into the story.
Kova features a hand-drawn art style that looks incredible in the early footage you’ve shown. What made you go for this visual style as opposed to the more common pixel-art look we tend to see these days?
We are seeking to create something unique and think outside of the pixel-art 2d box. It seems the market has been flooded with that artstyle so we went with a different approach. Our artist is incredibly talented and has created beautiful concept pieces for numerous clients, one piece of which even ended up in the Bonus Content of the Prometheus movie. We felt like having hand-drawn art pieces would work beautifully in a 2d science fiction game, it brings something different to the table.
Given that Kova is considered a ‘Metroidvania’ game, some of its inspirations are obvious. Besides the likes of ‘Metroid’ and ‘Castlevania’ though, what else has been an inspiration for you when creating the game?
We’ve been inspired by different features of different games… we really wanted to take our favorites and make one cohesive design out of them. We love the open-world and exploration of ‘Elite Dangerous’, the upgrade mechanics of ‘Deus Ex: Human Revolution’, the expansive story of ‘Halo’, the emotion and metroidvania design of ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’ and the crafting and inventory in games like ‘No Man’s Sky’. We’ve brought each of these elements together and put our own spin on them giving Kova something unique that really blurs the lines across genres.
Kova is currently seeking funds on Kickstarter. Is it all or nothing regarding the game as far as Kickstarter success goes, or is there a backup plan in case you don’t reach your funding goal?
This game has been a long time coming for us. We’ve put so much into it and we aren’t going to drop it if it doesn’t succeed on Kickstarter. We have had such praise on the game and it has been received very well by the gaming community. We know we have created something that gamers want to play so if the Kickstarter doesn’t meet the goal, then we will regroup with everything that we have learned in the process, continue to update the wonderful community that has formed around Kova and come back with ‘Plan B’.
Can you tell us a neat fact about Kova that no-one outside of the development team knows?
The original name of the game was Fermi Paradox, but after seeing a few small games pop up with a similar title, we decided to avoid any confusion so we named it after our main character, Kova instead.