Thirty years after the nuclear disaster it is shocking to see the well-known region of Chernobyl. The emitted radioactive particles left irreparable damage and, as of yet, continue to harm the zone. Nevertheless, the zone now shines as a truly urban forest. Many species have returned, and little by little many species have begun to repopulate it and turn the dusty and grey image we all have from the post radioactive fallout days into a colourful, green and lush landscape where the grass, leaves and roots have effectively hidden the asphalt and concrete walls. Led by light tries to capture this transition from the urban to the natural, that takes place when humans abandon a once populated area.
We try to faithfully reproduce the wondrous and eerie feeling elicited by walking in a place that we know was once a populous urban centre, but where now all traces of that have mostly vanished.
This is a recurrent topic in the videogames universe, with iconic examples such as the Fallout and Metro series or Mad Max. Nevertheless, most implementations of this post-apocalyptic theme focus on a temporal and aesthetic perspective which tries to be close to the conflict or cataclysm that brought about the apocalypse, typically within a few generations. Consequently, all environmental elements are designed to be a constant reminder of that catastrophic event. Conversely, in Led by Light we step many more generations into the future after the civilization fell and disappeared, not by a nuclear disaster, but by a progressively overwhelming flood caused by the dramatic rise of the oceans water levels through a long period of time. In Led by Light, new plants and animals have taken over the long forgotten great cities of the past.
Human conflict is still present in this world, but the passage of time has created new landscapes, ways of living and social structure. This approach makes Led by Light closer to games such as NieR: Automata, Crysis 3 or The Last of us. Despite this apparent similarity, Led by Light is still far from these games, since we do not emphasize the catastrophic events and their consequences, but rather focus on things such as the feeling of loneliness when entering an abandoned place or the silence spelled by time while it relentlessly undoes objects and buildings. You will be entering a mysterious world in which the human project failed, its voices have been silenced and where the wildest nature has become the new protagonist.
While investigating the forests, you will find the rusted remains of another world here and there, but when entering the subterraneous areas, you will be able to see better preserved vestiges of the people from the past, their costumes and social structures. What has become of them? That is something nobody knows anymore or, rather, nobody cares to know.
In the next post we will let you in on some context about our own trajectory as a studio, and how we have come to where we are now and plan to implement this ideas into the game.