Papo & Yo developer Minority has released the first teaser trailer for its upcoming project Silent Enemy.
Much like Papo & Yo, Silent Enemy will be an autobiographic game about child abuse. Only this time instead of focusing on the relationship between a boy and his father, it's aimed at addressing the concept of bullying.
While Papo & Yo was based on Minority founder Vander Caballero's experience, Silent Enemy is based on the experiences of several Minority staff. It was particularly inspired by Ernest Webb, a member of the Cree Nation, a native Canadian tribe in the Northern part of Quebec. Originally Silent Enemy was set to be a survival hunting game, but Minority explained in a Reddit AMA that that didn't fit the tone it was going for and decided to change the focus of the game.
"[Design director] Ruben Farrus was in charge of making the first survival hunting experience of the Cree tribes of northern Quebec, where winter can reach -50 degrees Celsius (132 F). He came to me after we started receiving mail from people who had played Papo and who wanted to share their experience with us. Then, Ruben told me: 'We can't do a game about survival hunting. That's not what Minority is about.' I agreed and told him: 'If you're able to find an angle to bring people through an emotional journey of growth that respects the Cree's experience, you can do whatever you want with that game.'"
"He then started working with one of Minority's founders, Ernie Webb, a member of the Cree Nation. Along that process, they both discovered that they had both experienced bullying, though they were from different parts of the world. So, we set out on a journey to make a game about bullying. How can you cope with bullying in video games? You can't give players power-ups; that's not how bullying gets solved. This is very challenging in terms of game design, but Minority is up for it!"
Little is known about Silent Enemy's actual gameplay, but Minority said in the AMA that it won't be puzzle-based. "Puzzle balancing is extremely difficult. Either you make them reeeeally difficult and make people feel stupid, or you make them easy and hardcore gamers give you crap," said Minority in the AMA. "So, we're staying away from puzzle solving as a main driver for Silent Enemy. But I can't talk about our transversal game play yet. So, stay tuned!"
All we know about how Silent Enemy will actually play is it involved a shape-shifting protagonist trying to bring about spring in an endless winter, but the bullying crows won't allow it. Caballero explained some of the most basic mechanics to GameInformer in the Silent Enemy's initial reveal at GDC. "You have magic powers to tackle the obstacles, like crossing paths by collecting spirits or shapeshifting to a rabbit to get to a high ledge," explained Caballero. "Unlike most games where you get more powerful as you go on, Minority wants to make the struggle against bullying more realistic by showing you can't fix it with physical power; it's about surviving."
Minority expressed a desire to see games mature and address deeper issues than we're used to. "Video games for so long have focused on adolescent fantasies that help us escape, but at the same time, this has hurt us," said Minority in the AMA.
"In my case, I used games to escape and cope with my frustrations about life and I'm grateful to give the opportunity to kill so many people in virtual worlds when I was frustrated with society. But now, I'm getting older and I feel gamers deserve more; the older I get the more movies I watch and the less I play video games, and that makes me really sad. I want to grow old playing games, I want to experience other people's life experiences through video games. I want to play someone else's Papo."
Silent Enemy is set to launch later this year on iOS, Ouya and other, unannounced platforms.