[Originally published on Nintendojo on November 9th 2012]
If you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground over the past year, there’s every chance you might have caught a glimpse of a strange, fleeting shadow hovering somewhere over Wii U’s eShop line up. You probably thought nothing of it at the time, but if you’re one of the few people that dared to cast their eyes skyward, you would have found the beautifully enigmatic Chasing Aurora, the sophomore game from the team behind WiiWare classic And Yet It Moves. We were instantly captivated by its soothing teaser trailer back in April, so we decided to sit down with co-founder Felix Bohatsch to talk more about this mysterious eShop title.
“Chasing Aurora is a game about the dream of flight,” Bohatsch told us over email. “Have you ever watched swallows playing with each other high up in the sky? This is what it’s about! In more general gaming lingo, though, Chasing Aurora is a physics-based 2D aerial action game. Interestingly, I think everyone in the team remembers the evolution of Chasing Aurora a bit differently. Here’s how I remember it: we started out with doing a motion-controlled game, [and] from this desire came the idea of flying with the wind. This is the core idea that stayed with us all through development and that made us settle for the world: birds flying through the Alps. We always wanted to stay 2D, and our biggest challenge was to invoke a beautiful, dreamlike feeling of flight in a two dimensional world.”
The power of flight is certainly an evocative idea– just take one look at Chasing Aurora’s official Facebook page and you’ll soon see it’s packed to the brim with facts about birds and flying, including the age of the oldest American crow (30 years, in case you were wondering) to little tidbits about the goddess Aurora herself. “I think the dream of flight is buried deep somewhere in our genes,” says Bohatsch. “During the development we researched birds and all things flying. We found references to it in myths and stories of all cultures and religions and on all parts of the world. It inspired us, so we wanted to share this knowledge with our community. Interestingly, crows are the birds that popped up the most during our research. They’re very mysterious and intelligent creatures, people just seem to be drawn to them.”
Of course, one of the most defining features of Chasing Aurora is its unique, pop-up book art style, and much like And Yet It Moves, it follows in Broken Rules’ tradition of creating visually distinctive games. “The starting point for the final art style was when [our lead artist] moved to a new apartment. He had to get rid of an old closet and broke it apart. During a break he started drawing animals and mountains on the pieces of wood of the broken closet. The style of the drawings is a mix of alpine wood carvings, origami and Japanese ink drawing. They’re the most amazing concept drawings I’ve ever seen and form the foundation for the art style of Chasing Aurora.”
But that’s not the only thing that’s different about Chasing Aurora, as it will also be split up into multiple different games. The first will focus on bringing out the best of Wii U’s asymmetric multiplayer capabilities and will feature three different asymmetric local multiplayer modes for up to five players, along with a single player time trial mode where you can try and break your own records. It’s an approach not too dissimilar from the BIT.Trip series, Bohatsch tells us, where each game will be unique on its own, but something more than just the sum of its parts when viewed altogether.
“I don’t specifically like sequels– otherwise we would have made And Yet It Moves 2— so I don’t see the future games as sequels. They will share the world and characters, but they will be different games. We believe that the one thing that games can do best is create worlds to explore and interact with. That’s why we put a lot of effort and thought into the world and characters of Chasing Aurora. We want players to be able to experience this world in different phases and through different roles they play. We couldn’t have done this in one single game, so we decided to make a series. Each game in the series will have a different gameplay and it will tell players something different about the world.”