Mobile Game ‘Relieve’ Stuns With Innovative Dual-Perspective Gameplay

At Indie Game Award 2024, the narrative-driven mobile game Relieve from Salt Game Studio was recognized by the judges for its innovative dual-perspective gameplay and intricate storytelling, clinching the coveted “Best Mobile Game”.

The studio’s founder, Salt, revealed that the game’s initial demo was independently created by fellow developer Lyrids during his student days. The team later collaborated to fully realize this project, serving as a tribute to Lyrids’s youthful aspirations. As for whether the narrative drew from his personal experiences, Salt laughed, “Lyrids is tight-lipped about such things – you’ll never get it out of him!”

Salt candidly admitted that even pinpointing the emotional focal points worth emphasizing led to significant divergences and frequent disagreements during the development process. Fortunately, both eventually found a balanced convergence, propelling them in a unified direction.

The Salt Game Studio team

Prior to founding Salt Game Studio, Salt’s expertise centered on crafting game audio and music. As such, Relieve incorporates musical gameplay elements, paving the way for their upcoming narrative music game. He affirmed, “Not only will the current title officially launch this year, but the demo for our next project is also already complete!”

Game Design Debate: Emotion vs. Form and Substance, Teams Discuss Values Before Development

Salt explained that the initial design concept for Relieve was to utilize horizontal and vertical orientations as part of the gameplay itself, seamlessly integrating puzzle-solving elements and enriching the operative experience without adhering to gender norms.

Although this innovative approach risked coming across as a mere gimmick, after deliberation, they reframed it as a narrative storytelling technique. Just as a couple in love may share the same emotional journey, their individual life trajectories and affective arcs seldom converge. Rather, it is the intertwining of these distinct strands that ultimately weaves the tapestry of bliss.

Rooted in this philosophy, the horizontal and vertical perspectives were established as expressive modalities, shaping the game’s creative male-vertical, female-horizontal gameplay.

Despite solidifying the gameplay mechanics, Salt and Lyrids frequently differed in their perspectives on which emotional aspects deserved emphasis and how to portray them effectively. Salt admitted to harboring the belief that in young love, outward form often takes precedence over inner substance, leading to a focus on commemorating major events and grandiose gestures within the memory segments.

Conversely, Lyrids advocated for prioritizing intrinsic significance, aiming to convey the prevailing attitudes and mindsets that manifest through the romantic journey. This fundamental dichotomy extended its influence into level design and visual representation choices, prompting recurring discussions between the two.

With a laugh, Salt conceded, “More often than not, I found myself deferring to Lyrids – the end result proves his approach was the wiser one!”

From Virtual to Reality: Developers Navigate New Terrain with Excitement and Fear!

Initially developed remotely, the Relieve team members were rather insular and reluctant to venture outdoors, resulting in infrequent face-to-face interactions. However, towards the end of last year, they began actively participating in offline events such as the “WePlay Expo” and the “G-Fusion Game Fest”.

Facing live audiences, they garnered invaluable playtesting feedback, including constructive criticism. As attention towards their project escalated, the team found themselves both exhilarated and apprehensive, yet brimming with renewed vigor.

“From the moment I first learned about Indie Game Award, I desperately wanted to participate,” Salt recounted, “but at that stage, our content was insufficient to meet the submission criteria.”

It wasn’t until their proactive involvement in offline activities that the prospect of entering IGA became feasible, despite the game still being in mid-development. Consequently, this year’s successful submission filled them with immense joy, and although they harbored confidence in advancing to the final round, actually securing an award was an unanticipated delight.

Salt expressed regret at missing the opportunity to personally accept the accolade at Taipei Game Show and engage with fellow developers this year. Nevertheless, he emphasized that Relieve is slated for an official July release, with the prototype demo for their upcoming narrative music game already complete.

The team is diligently working on incorporating engaging new content, hopeful that this future title will also contend at the prestigious IGA. Salt extended an invitation to gamers to stay tuned for the team’s latest updates.

The Salt Game Studio team at physical events

Wishlist Relieve on Steam, and top up your Steam Wallet on Codashop.

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