Shoot and Navigate by Ear

Apotheorasis is a first-person shooter audio-only game; the first of its kind as far as the developer team, Tall Guy Productions knows. While they definitely leveraged the existing "language" of both genres (FPS, audio game), innovation was mandatory to navigate these uncharted waters.

Shooting in an audio-only game in a way that feels both fair and realistic at the same time was a big design challenge. There is a form of aim assist which factors in distance, angle, wanted section difficulty, player speed, and rate of fire to create forgiving yet challenging gameplay, ironed out towards perfection through countless iterations.

Combat-based audio games tend to switch between navigation, narration, and combat, which can be found to be quite an immersion-breaker; so the team did away with it and treated the game like they would a classic FPS. This of course created a series of problems they had to take care of, but the end result seamlessly blends combat, action, navigation, and social interactions without ever pausing the flow.

Simplifying what an FPS plays like, without butchering it, was a big challenge as well. All enemies die with one hit, you don't have to aim vertically (it was too disorienting for players), you don't have to recharge, and you've got a total defense as a panic button (which a few enemies can break, creating rock-paper-scissors gameplay).

Everything in the game is diegetic to reduce ludonarrative dissonance to the bare minimum. Even instructions that mention key binds are given figuratively, in a way that doesn't break the fourth wall (i.e.. talking to the character, rather than the player). The team said that choosing a sci-fi setting leaned itself quite naturally to that, but it still was a pain at every step to have to justify everything without being too verbose about it.

Apotheorasis is coming out next month (May 2022) and is already available in Early Access.