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Wake Up Call – the Unreal Engine 4 Choice-Based Stealth Shooter Revealed | Exclusive Interview

Stealth is fun. Action is fun. Shooting is fun. Wrap them all up together into a stealth action shooter and it should definitely be fun. Couple it with a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic world and a strong focus on story and player choice, and we’re looking at something with a great deal of potential. We’re looking at Wake Up Call. OnlySP recently had a chat with Millan Singh of Dark Synergy Studios about their upcoming stealth action shooter Wake Up Call, and found out just what kind of sneaky things we’ll be able to do.

Wake Up Call tells the story of Kyle Rogers, an ex-special forces soldier who, after waking from a hundred and fifty years of cryosleep, finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world of conflict. Caught between the tyrannical Kalders and a guerrilla group called The Scarred, it’s up to Kyle Rogers to discover the mysteries of the massive underground station full of humans in cryostasis and the potential disaster even worse than the one that caused The Collapse in the first place.

Wake Up Call’s approach to this story is focusing on “quality story-telling with maximum replay value.” The purely single player experience that will be on offer is a direct result of this, with Dark Synergy choosing not to sacrifice any development time to multiplayer or co-op in favour of delivering a game that is as “high-quality and replayable as possible.”

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What enables this is the emphasis on choice. “Wake Up Call plays like a linear game, but several choices you make in the game will change the entire mission structure for the rest of the game.”

“Choices may manifest in story or gameplay altering decisions that change the large-scale experience, or they may appear in the small choices built into a stealth-action game, such as whether or not you wipe out an enemy squad or sneak around them. Every choice matters. Every choice you make, deliberate or organic, defines Kyle’s in-game personality, altering his dialogue to match your play-style 100% organically with no dialogue wheels to slow the game down.”

There will be NPCs with which to interact, although the exact nature of these characters is yet to be revealed. Their role will be to flesh out the backstory of the world, as well as provide junctions for choice.

It is this extensive array of choice that enables Wake Up Call’s replayability. “You will have to play the game at least 4 times to experience every available mission, and there are a total of five endings for the game.”

“We haven’t nailed down a game length yet, but average play-throughs are likely to take 6-8 hours. Considering that, players are looking at 20+ hours of gameplay just to play all the missions, and easily another 50 hours to play through every mission with different gameplay styles and guarantee you play through all the side objectives.”

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Gameplay wise, Wake Up Call will be a science fiction stealth action first person shooter “with a heavy emphasis on choice-driven gameplay and story in a unique and atmospheric post-apocalyptic world.” That world will play an important part in the way the game plays. For example, Singh explained, there are two major types of locations in the game – the city and the forest. Each environment will implement the same core mechanics, while requiring a variety of different strategies to successfully navigate the two environments.

“[M]ost gameplay will happen on rooftops, in buildings, and in forests.” Singh told us. “As for how they play compared to each other, it mainly comes down to basics. City environments will typically be more intricate with more verticality to take advantage of, while forest environments will be flatter but have much more hiding places due to the larger foliage.”

That core gameplay itself revolves around stealth, with combat added for extra flavour. “Stealth is perhaps the most important aspect to Wake Up Call’s gameplay.” Singh told us. “It ultimately comes down to a few key principals: AI, organic hiding places, and tactics. Wake Up Call’s AI will be sophisticated enough to accommodate things like hiding in tall foliage and also to detect the player based on sight and sound. Additionally, different enemy types will have different abilities when it comes to sniffing out the player. Map design also takes stealth into account by providing hiding spots and shadows for the player which has come to be known as staples in the stealth genre.”

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A tactical approach will play an important part in a stealthy approach, according to Singh. “One important distinction to Wake Up Call’s stealth though is the tactical side. At any time, the player can smoothly transition from stealth to combat, and the player can use distractions or traps to help push the tide of battle in their favour. Then there is always the choice to just run through it, similar to Mirror’s Edge for example.”

But things inevitably go awry, and it is in these situations where the combat aspect comes in. “Combat in the game comprises two main pillars: weight and fluidity.” Players will be given plenty of freedom of movement, allowing you to quickly traverse the terrain and get a melee kill. The weight concept comes in to the feel of the motion. Characters’ actions will feel weighty, carrying over to the shooting mechanics. “Shooting will feel heavy and realistic, making the spray and pray tactic only useful for suppressing your enemies”. Singh expanded, saying “AI will be proactive in trying to flank you or get out of the line of fire; try lighting up their position, and they will run for cover. This is great for creating distractions to give yourself that extra second that you need to get back into the shadows, escape, or drop in from behind them.”

It isn’t just the two human factions standing in Kyle Rogers’ way. Dark Synergy are promising a few other enemy types, such as “mother-nature and some very creepy beasts that we have not yet revealed.”

Wake Up Call is being developed on Unreal Engine 4, the next-gen focused upgrade to one of the most influential and widely used engines of last generation. While Dark Synergy couldn’t give us any particulars on the ins and outs of working with Unreal Engine 4, Singh did praise its ease of use. “Unreal Engine 4 is a fantastic toolset in many ways.” he told us. “I can tell you that development with Unreal Engine 4 is much easier than Unreal Engine 3… I think Unreal Engine 4 will provide a great way for serious up-coming indie developers to create magical experiences.” Singh added, “Unreal Engine 4 is truly a tool set designed to make development much easier, not just to allow for prettier graphics.”

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Release specifics such as format and release timeframes aren’t available just yet, but Wake Up Call will definitely be coming to PC. Singh did state a desire to bring the game to “as many platforms as possible”, but nothing has yet been confirmed. Singh did promise that there will be a gameplay reveal as soon as possible, “hopefully within the next two or three months”. They are also promising to post work-in-progress footage when possible.

Thanks to Millan Singh at Dark Synergy Studios for his time. We’ll keep our eyes on Wake Up Call, and bring you all the details we can as soon as we know them.

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7 comments

Millan Singh February 6, 2014 at 11:21

Fantastic interview guys! Lachlan, you are doing a fantastic job!! We cannot wait to show off more of Wake Up Call, and if anyone has questions, I will be here to answer them.

Lachlan Williams February 10, 2014 at 05:41

Thanks for your time Millan. Looking forward to seeing more from the game soon.

Fábio Vieira February 6, 2014 at 14:31

1. I got the impression Dark Synergy Studios was formed by very young and somewhat inexperienced guys, is that correct? Are there any “industry veterans” on the team?

2. What’s being promised seems like a huge undertaking, even for developers well-versed in the “player choice-driven/immersive sim” genre (e.g. Arkane Studios). Does Dark Synergy has the means to accomplish its vision?

3. Dark Synergy doesn’t owe me anything, but how will they guarantee the game won’t turn into vaporware or an unscavengeable broken mess in the end?

4. How the project is being funded? Has Dark Synergy considered using Kickstarter or other crowdfunding method in the future (to help finish and polish the game, for example)?

5. In what ways is Wake Up Call going to be “next-gen”, besides being developed in Unreal Engine 4 and possibly coming to PS4 and XB1?

6. Those pieces of concept art in the article have a Mirror’s Edge/RAGE/DX:HR vibe going on. What are the inspirations for Wake Up Call?

7. Will Wake Up Call be more like Deus Ex: Human Revolution (kind of restricted, directed, binary) or Dishonored (allowing more player agency)?

8. Oculus Rift support planned?

9. ???

10. PROFIT!

Millan Singh February 6, 2014 at 17:27

1. There are some members that have more professional backgrounds (indie and AAA), but the beauty of modern indie development is that even relatively young/inexperienced guys can make some high-quality stuff. We require all our members to have at least 2-3 years of experience, and I am not a newcomer to game development (though this is my first big project).

2. Indeed this is an ambitious undertaking, but like I said above, you don’t necessarily need to have a background of seven AAA titles to create a great game anymore.

3. The only “guarantee” that i can provide is that we are all just extremely passionate about what we do, and we could never imagine releasing a half-assed game.

4. Right now the project is self-funded, but we are definitely planning on utilizing Kickstarter for funding a larger portion of the game.

5. Wake Up Call is a next-gen indie in that we are trying things with our story and level design that you just don’t see in linear games, even in AAA titles.

6. Wake Up Call has a lot of artistic influences, including Mirror’s Edge, Deus Ex: HR, and the movie Avatar (just to name a few). That said, we want to try to define our own art style, and we will definitely be posting about that in the near future.

7. Wake Up Call is all about player choice. The game plays like a linear game, but the mission structure is the opposite of linear. That said, in terms of how choice works out, I would say Wake Up Call would be closer to Dishonored, but I feel pretty confident in saying that our approach to player choice is novel in gaming in general.

8. Oculus Rift is a really cool peripheral, and we would love to support it, but we cannot guarantee it now since it is just too early to say.

9. ???

10. Profit is great and all, but for us profit is just a vessel to make more great games to make more profit, and the cycle continues.

Hope these answers were helpful!!

Fábio Vieira February 6, 2014 at 18:41

Helpful indeed! Thank you very much for taking the time!

Wake Up Call is my kind of thing so it’s kinda hard not to get too excited, and worried about it not getting to see the light of day for whatever reason (RIP Deep Cover, Prey 2, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, etc).

Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3 February 7, 2014 at 10:39

I think I can get behind this game.

Millan Singh February 10, 2014 at 04:36

I think you can too! 😉 Thanks for reading!!

Comments are closed.