5 years, 14 near perfect marks, this independent team has created their game universe


After 476 days, Rust Lake Studios recently launched a new work, The White Door. This is the longest wait for loyal fans.

Developers Robin and Maarten took time to polish the finished product, and finally received rave reviews on Steam, with perfect ratings in TapTap-if you are familiar with Rust Lake, an independent game label, then the recognition on this side may not be Feeling strange.


The game’s Steam rating was 95%

Five years ago, the studio from the Netherlands made thirteen consecutive puzzle games around the same worldview. These games consist of two series, Rust Lake and Escape Blocks. They have a persuasive style, a strange story, an obscure atmosphere, and a brain puzzle. At the same time, the word-of-mouth of each work is almost perfect.

It stands to reason that “White Gate” would be a sequel to the “Lake Lake Universe” step by step, throwing players to a mysterious place to touch the bloody puzzles. But the works that really appear in front of you and me are very different. The painting style, puzzles, mechanism, and narrative are all shattered and come back; and the most anti-routine may be to change the former cold and melancholy, and change the atmosphere of the story. Easy and gentle.

The point is, most fans have accepted this new work.

Rust Lake’s New Work Without Brainburning Puzzles

The most obvious changes in Rust Lake’s new work are perspective and style. The first-person and vintage-style hand-painted oil paintings are gone, and now the black and white cartoons with single lines are used to present the content. The game may have a better experience on a folding screen device, because in the interaction, it introduces a split screen design, which uses a split screen to show the interaction between the protagonist and the surrounding environment.

In view of these differences on the bright side, it is difficult to classify “White Gate” and the old works of Rust Lake. But what makes fans more difficult to adapt is another group of puzzle mechanics and difficulty. Whether on Google Play or on Steam, some players who claim to be Rust Lake Iron Powder are very dissatisfied. In their eyes, “White Gate” is a sequel to the Rust Lake Universe that deviates from its original position, and it is frustratingly boring.

A negative comment that was praised a lot like this: “It’s really boring. A lot of game content is character actions like” brushing teeth “or” sliding on the lid. “There are too few really meaningful puzzles. I only have When the app has a bug, it will use its brain and think about what is going on … ”

The player was very disappointed with White Gate

If you also evaluate the game based on puzzle design and gameplay, you may get a similar experience. In the first half hour of entering White Gate, there is no need to solve the puzzle challenge. What you need to overcome in the process is to understand the scene where the character is located without too much textual guidance, and then follow the instructions of the narration or subtitles. To complete the relevant directional action.

And the role you play is living a highly procedural life: the protagonist is named Robert Hill, who suffers from severe amnesia. He needs to follow a strict schedule to get up, wash, eat, inspect, Memory training, recreational activities, exploring dreams, until leaving the mental health center after recovery.

The schedule is the game content of the player

Most of the time, gameplay and interactivity come from clicking or swiping according to what the hero needs.

The protagonist said, “I’m watching TV boringly.” Off the screen, you slide the scroll screen and find an old color TV in the room.

The protagonist said, “A beggar came towards me. I pulled down the window and gave her a coin.” It’s not hard to understand. You know that the fingers slide towards the window and the old woman’s hand. carry out.

Slightly more challenging puzzles are usually in the rounds, memory training, and entertainment activities. The so-called rounds are nurses and doctors to ask for personal information, such as name and address; the so-called memory training is usually to find faults; and entertainment activities will be more abundant, such as barbells, ball pitchers, puzzles, tricks every day Refurbished.

Although the difficulty of the puzzle will increase slightly after halfway through the process; these simple interactions in the early stages are not what the hard-core puzzle player wants. They are not brain-burning, they lack a logical connection with each other, not to mention the continuation of the bloody, cruel and curious puzzle flavor.

Rust Lake’s puzzle design generally requires stubbles and beheading

If everyone looks at “White Door” in this way, perhaps they ignore the more touching part of the work and the entire “Lake Lake Universe”, that is the story.

The plot is its core competitiveness

At first glance, a lot of recognition received by Rust Lake Studios stems from surprisingly winning puzzles and performances full of psychological thrillers. But this perspective is somewhat one-sided. According to the author’s observation, the main creators can continue to write more than a dozen high-score myths, more thanks to their core competitiveness in “narrative”.

Let’s put it this way, the author has been doing suspense serial dramas these years. This drama involves the grievances of two big families. The time spans over a hundred years, and the relationship between the characters is intricate. The creator breaks the story into pieces first, then throws out relatively complete parts a little bit, letting players piece together the whole picture by themselves.


The Family Tree in Rust Lake: The Roots

This is the consistent narrative way of Rust Lake. As long as you are curious about the direction of the plot and the fate of the characters, players can’t help but fall into a state of long-term pursuit. The so-called “rust lake universe” is that each work is independent, but the internal characters, scenes, events, symbols, clues, etc. are all entangled with each other and complement each other. Just like the achievement system in this game, unlock them, and you will be able to meet all kinds of people and things that have appeared in previous works.

If you say that the strong style of the past puzzled the original narrative intentions of the Rust Lake series, then this time in “White Door”, the creator simply removed the puzzle and routine gameplay mechanism and tilted the focus to the story . The main creator wrote on their blog: “This time we want to focus on creating narrative content based on fun gameplay. It’s almost like a visual novel.”

Some people find it similar to Florence, because at the beginning of the story, both focus on small scenes of life. Looking back at the game’s split-screen interaction and directional click mode, the text is separated from the scene, and the action is matched with narration. The starting point of these designs does have a strong intention to tell a story.

So what kind of story does White Gate tell under the new narrative technique?

A big mystery in the entire Rust Lake Universe is related to the death of the female character Laura. The creator has not yet let the truth surface. This time, White Door threw out several clue fragments again. In the main storyline, this time from the experience of Laura’s ex-boyfriend Robert Hill, through his dream memories during the treatment of amnesia, a sad love story emerged.

The man was heartbroken after learning that Laura was murdered

Simply put, this time the story happened in a place called “White Gate.” You play as a protagonist who loses his memory. His life has lost its color and everything is empty and black and white. In order to regain memory, the hero needs a week-long treatment, and each day of treatment corresponds to a chapter in the story. After completing the schedule step by step, you will learn about the pain, struggle and loss experienced by men in a dream again and again. The sudden change in the protagonist’s life turned out to be Laura’s departure, which made him feel lost.

For the loyal players of the Rust Lake series, it is rare to be so straightforward and pay attention to the expression of personal changes in the heart. Looking back at other works in the series, the topics they focus on are mostly revenge and family tragedies. Even if it involves love, it will probably end in bleakness. And this time’s story, although the structure is small, it is also mild and beautiful.

At the end of the story, the hero regains the color of life. He watched the robin fly away, thinking of Laura’s departure. The nurse accompanying the male lead said something meaningful: “It has not disappeared. Its image remains in my mind forever.”

You know, this cure is really a rusty lake.

Breaking the Routine Starts with a Good Story

There is a 476-day gap between the works, which is a bit unusual for Rust Lake Studio. Prior to White Gate, players never had to wait a year for the sequel to Rust Lake Universe. In the early days of the business, Robin and Maarten could do the Moon Escape series with limited manpower.

As their creative ambitions continue to increase, they will spend more than half a year polishing their works. But this time “White Gate” came too late. The work was originally scheduled to go on sale last fall, but it was a bounce for about three months. So, where did they spend their time?

I once said that the popular Rust Lake series follows the fast production mode, and the sense of narrative, puzzle, gameplay and art is very strong. If you play too many Rust Lake works in a row, you will definitely notice the repetitiveness. As for the anxiety that there is no inventory, the creators have a deeper experience than me. They wrote on their blog: “As game developers / artists, we need to spend time outside our comfort zone.”

Therefore, the difficult to produce “White Door” is the beginning of the rust lake series. They no longer give you an obscure story. Instead, they picked out the small characters in the “Lake Lake Universe” and reconstructed it through new narrative techniques. It’s worth noting that Robin and Maarten did one more thing last year: they co-founded a new label, Second Maze. In addition to “White Door”, the creators publicly stated that there were four projects that were operating at the same time last year.

What I have noticed is that behind the game’s well-received on Steam, most players affirm the new attempts of Rust Lake.

Why is acceptance so high? The main creators say that they have succeeded in making distinctive works while maintaining their relevance to previous works. To put it bluntly, the deep and attractive “Rusty Lake World View” supports the special feature of “White Gate” which describes the encounters of little people.

Fat Pudding, the developer of the Lost Island series, made similar attempts last year. They launched two sketch games combining puzzle solving and picture books, namely “Thick Time” and “Far Story”. I think the two are similar to “White Gate” mainly because: the emotional tone of several works are similar; in addition, they are all breakthroughs in past styles; then in expression, they are biased towards narrative and emotion. .

Perhaps because the story lacked enough resonance, “Thick Time” and “Afar Away” did not gain much applause. Some hard-core puzzle players are unable to persuade themselves to give higher evaluations after they are expected to fail. And I think the shortcomings of these two works that combine narrative and games may still be in the depth of the worldview.

In comparison, the art, mechanics, and gameplay of “White Gate” may not be as stunning, but the creators achieved an effect: the three were unified around the core of the plot, and promoted by the existing worldview Story development. The solid “rust lake universe” is its advantage in plot and emotion expression. The author does not have too much ink on the surface, and the old players can still perceive the flesh and soul of the characters.

The universe is a buzzword, and when people talk about it, they think of Marvel’s grand system directly. In recent years, the field of domestic film and television has also been testing in this direction. There are both the “Myth Universe” and the newly emerged “Tang Tan Universe”. All in all, expanding the universe is a matter of no cost and no investment.

But the Rust Lake series did it. You see, they are all sketches, but the kernel is not thin at all.

Author: Mew Fez
Source: Game Grape
Original address: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/-TyrewZLZksNnk_61ut66w

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