One of our favorite things about a good Metroidvania is sequence-breaking your own path through the game world. Metroid has the wall jump and the bomb jump, which let skilled players play things out of order or even skip powerups and bosses in their entirety. Games like Dark Souls use similar tactics, where even obscure mechanics like fall damage can be exploited to carve your own path.
With Seafoam Empress, we’re aiming to push sequence breaking even further. The Seafoam Empress toolset lets players do some insane things. Rather than trying to prevent them, we’re leaving them in and pushing hard in that direction to give players the freedom to play the game the way they want to, in the order they want to.
While there are many upgrades to help Athena move around the world, Seafoam Empress is designed to reward players for exploring all the tools available to Athena, and most areas and items can be found early with expert use of her shell throwing abilities. The following tricks can be performed using basic shells and items found throughout the game, but as Athena finds shells with new behaviors, more options will reveal themselves to players who wish to look for them.
a.k.a. Double Jump
By throwing a shell downward, Athena can push herself into the air and gain extra height. This will often be needed to reach high ledges.
a.k.a. Manipulating Space
While Athena’s movement on land is limited without the Frog upgrade, players can explore some areas early by dropping a shell on a ledge, allowing her to use it for another jump. Paying close attention to the terrain will reveal opportunities to get Athena into all sorts of places off the main path.
Double Shell Juggle
a.k.a. More Fun Bomb Jump
Some items and paths will be harder to reach, but even without a ledge, Athena can throw multiple shells in the air to gain extra height. While sometimes tough to perform, this trick allows players who have mastered the game to have much greater freedom over how they progress through the world.
Triple Shell Juggle
a.k.a. You are Insane
A much more difficult task, throwing three shells into the air with proper timing allows Athena to jump to high ledges that may otherwise take a long time or require new upgrades to reach.
Tougher Items and Walls
Some shells do not immediately break when thrown against a wall, and this property can be used to the player’s advantage. In this example, Athena throws a key and treasure shell against walls to create points to jump from, allowing her to throw the key directly into a lock that would otherwise require carrying the key through a long side path to reach.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot here that we’re not showing off, because we’d rather players find it on their own. Some of it involves additional shell types, some of it involves new ability upgrades, some of it involves Athena’s swappable magic spells and familiar summons, and some of it involves intimate knowledge of the game world and its structure. Through these systems, we’re designing Seafoam Empress to be both as open and as replayable as possible.