Stonefly, a chill mech game, respects the environment and its creatures

In the treetops of Stonefly’s lush forests, people use bug-shaped mechs to navigate the wild ecosystem. Tangles of vines wrap round tree stumps and limbs, with large leaves taking pictures out into each route. Other creatures, like outsized bugs, stay beneath rocks and in tall grasses that dot the stony buildings hidden behind the treetop forests. In this world, people and bugs developed alongside each other, and Stonefly is about their tradition of environmental respect.

The world’s many risks are intertwined with its items. It’s a lesson that Annika, the player-character in Stonefly, quickly figures out after she leaves the consolation of her father’s residence to retrieve his stolen mech — a household heirloom that’s price is in its coronary heart. She flies off into the wilderness of the forest’s crown on the again of a cricket, which ultimately leads her to a mech that appears form of like a spider. She can improve and evolve it, altering its seems and options over the course of the sport. Much of the action-adventure gameplay facilities round exploring; whereas gliding from marshes to canopies, off mushrooms and rocks, Annika seems for sources to proceed upgrading her mech. Occasionally, which means defending herself from the harmful bugs of the world.

a scene at stonefly’s camp, with a big mech with spider legs

Image: Flight School Studio/MWM Interactive

There are loads of totally different sorts of bugs — ones that shoot slime, torpedo objects, or assault and sting. Annika should use her mech to stun bugs and push them off platforms. There’s no killing right here; that was an intentional and key determination.

“Annika gathers silk from worms, discarded shells from cicadas, that sort of thing,” Stonefly developer and Flight School Studio inventive director Adam Volker advised Polygon. “She may be very Nausicaa in that approach. We figured that these societies would have developed alongside the different critters of the forest. Some of them are harmful, however killing them would lower brief the function they play in the bigger forest’s ecosystem.”

Volker stated Flight School constructed out the characters’ perception system in inside writings that aren’t in the sport, however the stability and tradition of respect is obvious in how characters work together with the environment. Like Studio Ghibli’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Stonefly’s environment is as essential as its characters — the push and pull between the two, the unnerving rigidity between people and every part else round them. Stonefly’s hopeful respect of the pure world shines via, a showcase of an aspirational stability.

I might really feel this affect all through the sport, which is made further charming via Stonefly’s visible aesthetic. The sport simply seems dang good. Inspired by mid-century trendy artist Charley Harper, Stonefly’s world minimalist cel-shaded look is a 3D reinterpretation of Harper’s “incredible talent for distilling an object down to its most iconic form,” Volker stated.

In the sport’s 2D backgrounds and environments, Volker stated the crew might give attention to graphic interpretations of the world that pop like Harper’s work. Making the aesthetic work in 3D was more durable, Volker stated. “It was fun and easy while I was making the early concept art, but then putting a player in that space broke a lot of the visual design,” he stated.

A mech shooing away bugs on a green mossed covered rock

Image: Flight School Studios/MWM Interactive

Ultimately, although, it labored. Stonefly’s visible design encourages a particular curiosity about the world; it’s like our personal, however not an excessive amount of. It’s nonetheless rooted in real-life analysis, although, and that makes its message all the extra impactful.

“Learning the different ways leaves can grow made it really easy to design brand new shapes inside of that system,” Volker stated. “Starting purely from my imagination, in my experience, doesn’t actually give you as believable a result as when you use reference.”

The people in Stonefly are simply as essential as the different creatures who stay in its world; a core a part of the sport is centered round Annika’s reflections on her life together with her father, and the different characters she meets on this journey. Respect, on this case, isn’t essentially a given: That respect comes slowly, and in waves, as the Stonefly crew makes their approach via the environment.

“The story is about independence and finding your own compass,” Volker stated. “Family and different types of friendships are woven into the narrative as well. Annika undertakes a literal journey to retrieve Dad’s mech, but really the journey she takes is internal.”

Stonefly was launched on June 1 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

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