Virtually terrifying

Vikintor (@vf_vikintor on twitter) is a Brazilian indie developer cranking out some of the most visually haunting art I’ve seen in recent memory. His upcoming game is a Japanese inspired platformer with macabre body horror visuals easily associated with the stylings of Tetsuo: The Iron Man or famous contemporary horror manga artist Junji Ito.

Vikintor’s first game was the Virtual Boy inspired Dungeon Crawler “Ritualistic Madness”. Set up as a “found footage” re-release of an unsettling game dredged up from obscurity, Ritualistic Madness pulls you in right from the start. The straightforward design of the levels and easy to grasp controls lures the player into a sense of comfort before the horror creeps in. You realize quickly you aren’t the only thing moving in the maze, and it’s a race against time to quickly find all the keys and navigate to the exit before you’re run down.

After you reach level two, the adrenaline rush of every close call begins to play against you. Ritualistic Madness is such a simple concept that employs slightly overextended hallways and narrow entrances to burn through your nerves. You start moving too fast and making mistakes, finding yourself face-to-face with a creature that waited for an opportunity inevitably presented by your self-destructive panic.

For such a minimalist title, it ensures over-confidence becomes the player’s downfall in inventively clever ways. We at Rebind recently got to discuss Vikintor’s influences, from this brilliant display of calculated fine-tuning to their intricate Japanese-inspired visuals:

Images of TAMASHII courtesy of Vikintor

REBIND: Tell us about yourself, your inspirations and what drove you to start making games.

Vikintor: I’ve started making small broken fan games as a teenager using Game Maker 4. More than 15 years later I remembered about a game that terrified me as a kid. This game was Paranoiascape by Screaming Mad George, I fell in love with it all over again and decided to give one more chance to game development.

I don’t have a vision focused on the industry standards, and I really don’t care that much about the industry state or what sells more. I believe that every game has their special place, and sometimes someone doesn’t know what they want until they see it. I see my games more like a handcrafted work than a digital product only. I like experimenting and scribbling until something interesting happens, and most of the stuff in my games were made that way.

I’m still seeking my own style and working toward that. My inspirations comes from religion (because of my spiritualistic background), philosophy, mythology, horror, and artists like Screaming Mad George, Osamu Sato, Chu Ishikawa, H.R Giger, and Junji Ito. If I could resume my inspirations for aesthetics: “Paranoiascape” and “LSD Dream emulator” (PlayStation) “Garage: Bad Dream adventure” and “Yume Nikki” (PC)

REBIND: How did you like developing Ritualistic Madness?

Vikintor: My focus was to reproduce something like Innsmouth for Virtual boy but with an “Arcade” approach. It was made in 3 days, and was really fun to design, mostly because I made it without any intention to make it good. It was a very rewarding experience. I want to make more short games in the future.

REBIND:  TAMASHII is very artistically ambitious and draws a lot on what you’ve learned so far while being a much different game from your first release. What do you think the biggest challenges have been so far versus Ritualistic Madness?

Vikintor: TAMASHII is a big game for me on a personal level. I worked on its concept in 2017. But the results weren’t satisfactory that time. In January of 2018, I started making the game again from scratch, finally with a more consistent direction. The most challenging points were my own programming skills at the time, looking for an artistic direction that I truly liked and tuning the puzzles. Because TAMASHII is focused on timing puzzles, it required a lot more playtesting than my previous game, also I’m working with a translator to help me localize the story. Another concern I had was accessibility. TAMASHII is a game that uses heavily visual distortion effects and a high framerate. Because of that, I’ve made available a few options to disable these visual effects, including one to assist players, making the game run at half of the speed if they press a particular button. The game is still simple on a gameplay perspective. But it was too complex for me to build and make it work as intended, that’s why I prefer making simpler games.

REBIND:  What’s TAMASHII going to sound like? Have you settled on a musical direction for it?

Vikintor: I wanted to make TAMASHII sound crude, mixing minimalistic industrial and atmospheric music.

REBIND:  What’s it like being a game developer in Brazil?

Vikintor: Making a living producing games in Brazil is almost out of reach, looks like every move is a risky one and regular jobs are becoming more precarious every day. But it’s not hard just to us developers, but also for any non-mainstream artist. At least our Twitter community is very warm and united.

REBIND:  You put together a zine for your new release, are you a strong believer in artistic mixed media promotional material?

Vikintor: I believe it can help to promote a game and expand an idea. Also can give players a preview of the game world without spoiling much. But I’m not so sure about how much it truly helps, but it was a thing that I thought it would be nice to try.

Make sure you stop by Vikintor’s and their Twitter (@vf_vikintor) for further updates.

Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice