The Art of Saviorless

If you haven’t heard of Saviorless, don’t go looking into its development just yet. If you know the game, let yourself be carried away.

The art of Saviorless game home screen

2 April 2024. A new 2D platform game is coming to consoles and PC. Developed by Empty Head Games and published by Dear Villagers, Saviorless tells us a story within a story within a story. This interesting mise en abyme conceals another, subtler and deeper message, appealing to our common imagination and the universality of stories, among other things.

At first, Saviorless is a relatively classic 2D platformer, with a dark and slightly strange atmosphere. But if you look at its development, its symbolism and everything that surrounds it and is present in its settings and character design, it’s a very different story. Saviorless is a narrative and graphic experience, a symbolic epic in the worlds of video games, reality and history.

Saviorless tells us a story about the stories we tell ourselves, the stories we experience, the stories we hear and the stories we imagine. Subtly, through a variety of narrative and visual means, Saviorless asks us questions about the narrative construction of any plot, whether it’s a video game or not. On the face of it, the aim is simple: to tell us about events almost through the prism of a tale. But be careful! There are rules you mustn’t break, or you’ll find yourself forever locked into a story you’ve built from scratch or, on the contrary, into which you’ve projected yourself a little too far.

The Story of… Behind the scene

Mise en abyme

The art of Saviorless video game screen, three characters on top of a mountain

The very first screen of Saviorless sets the tone: at the top of a mountain are three characters. Book in hand, they are talking: they are uncle, nephew and niece, but above all they are narrators. The dialogue bubble identifies them as “Narrator Len” for the teenager on the right, “Narrator Tobias” for the uncle in the centre of the scene, and “Narrator Arimbo” for the teenager on the left. By placing his characters – seemingly – outside the adventure, at the top of an impassable mountain, Saviorless unconsciously invokes the epinal image of the creator locked away in his Ivory Tower. Are these three narrators really outside the story they are about to tell us? Are they really the ones telling us the story or the ones shaping and constructing the narratives? Is there any other point of view than the one evoked by these three people at the top of their mountain, inaccessible but vulnerable? What will happen if the story goes beyond them, if one of them decides to break the rules while the others are asleep?

It is really in the first dialogue that we find the premise of the story, its questions and its construction.

The art of Saviorless, video game, Three characters on top of a mountain, Len says A good narrator never lets the protagonist achieve his goals

Imagine this:
Narrator Len: “Uncle, that’s the fifth time you’ve made me repeat the same thing”.
Narrator Tobias : “Please, Len, concentrate and explain the first rule again.”
Len: “A good narrator never lets the protagonist achieve his goals.”
Tobias: “We narrators control the protagonists. To do nothing is to lose control of the narrative. If a story unfolded exactly as it was written, what would happen?”
Narrator Arimbo: “We wouldn’t need any more narrators!”

A second rule follows: “A good narrator never controls several characters in the same story.”

The art of Saviorless, video game, three characters on top of a mountain, Arimbo says a good narrator never controls several characters in the same story.

Keep this dialogue in mind. Those first words, full of meaning, will echo in your mind over and over again. Throughout the adventure, they will take on a particular and different meaning. Sometimes light, sometimes heavy and deep, sometimes dramatic. Each event will make you rethink these few words. Because that’s what Saviorless is all about: a subtle blend between a discussion of narrative and the construction of video games, and a profound questioning of stories and how they weave a straitjacket of tradition from which it’s difficult to escape.

But is this the story of Saviorless? Yes and no. Because Tobias quickly returns to the original subject: “This is the story of a boy called Antar, who wishes to travel to a wonderful land called the Smiling Islands. A place far away and forgotten, where only the Radiant Heron still knows the way.”

The art of Saviorless video game screen, Antar hangs from a pulley on the right of the screen

Antar, protagonist, antagonist, archetype? It’s a question that will stay with you throughout the adventure.

Antar is a passive character: because he is subjected to the story of which he is the protagonist, and because, in accordance with the first rule, he has no freedom (the narrators control him), he is a passive actor in his own story. The mise en abyme becomes a mise en abyme when we begin to take control of Antar: in turn, we are forced to be the narrator, to take Antar, joystick in hand, to his destiny. We didn’t choose to play this role either. And the level design takes us ever deeper into the meanders of Saviorless: here, there’s no choice. Just a few hidden rooms where you can discover pieces of parchment telling your story. Just a corridor to cross, you and Antar in the same boat but not in the same cabin.

The gameplay echoes Antar’s passivity. He can only jump and push/pull certain elements of the scenery. He doesn’t take any fall damage, the archetypal immortal hero who must see his quest through to the end, whatever the cost. But at the same time, he has no health gauge and the slightest blow means his death (temporary, of course). It’s as if, deep down, he’s already wearing a suit of armour in scenarium, in the most literal sense of the word, since he’s the very object without which there would be no story.

Both passive and active, Antar can do nothing but move forward, despite the pitfalls: he must go to the Smiling Isles, become a Saviour. Until he fulfils his destiny, he’s nobody, and this is reflected in his character design. Antar is an androgynous figure, dressed in a long grey-beige dress, with long hair. There’s nothing that really sets him apart, so much so that apart from his face in close-up in the dialogue bubbles, he’s just an ordinary figure.

Because he can’t do anything other than progress on what appears to be his initiation quest, the story has to follow the codes of this type of narrative: Antar wanders through empty environments made up of platforms through which you learn the game’s simple controls. This tutorial zone is the beginning of the story, that introductory moment when everything goes right and the stakes are set (go to the Smiling Islands).

The art of Saviorless video game screen, platform with spikes, an enemy transforming on the right

Then come the first twists and turns: the first enemies, the details that start to jump out at you in the scenery, the meeting with a narrator, a milestone in the progress of your adventure. Antar meets his narrator, who tells him where he stands. Saviorless is first and foremost a video game, with its own mechanics and collectibles, in this case fragments of a page from your own story. Finding them all is optional, and doesn’t affect the course of your adventure… But they do have symbolic value, and open a locked chest at the end of each chapter. A term that, in the context of Saviorless, takes on even more meaning.

What if… ?

As we said, the story is set in stone, told a thousand times in the same way by Tobias, chained to rules that are beyond its control but from which it cannot free itself. Antar’s story must not move under any circumstances. Then, like a grain of sand jamming the perfect machinery, something happens to upset everything.

But the game’s story is not. We asked the developers to tell us more:

Point’n Think: How did you approach the script? I read that you took over 8 years to develop the game. Did the scenario evolve over time, or did you have this idea from the start?
Saviorless: “I typically start with an abstract concept that appeals to me, in the case of Saviorless, that concept was “control”. I usually write down ideas around this and draw them, creating a kind of notebook agenda, and then I start to land many of these sketches (visual and conceptual) within the logic of video games, meaning: characters, enemies, gameplay and mechanics. The narrative within video games has a rare adaptive quality, very different from a screenplay for film or theater, where the modification process is usually much more rigid once production has begun. In that sense, around twenty scripts were written and modified throughout the development, leaving really very little of that original vision of 2016.”

So there were many versions, but they all ended up as we have them today…

Antar’s quest for initiation is daunting for the two teenage narrators: they’ve heard the story more times than they can count. They know it and they want change. As soon as Tobias dozes off, the other two decide to change things. By waking up another protagonist and breaking the second rule, they not only change the dynamics of the story, they change the dynamics of the world.

The art of Saviorless video game, three characters on top of a mountain, Tobias says Each narrator is linked for life to a specific story

More than a new story, Saviorless becomes a catastrophic “What if…?”, the foretold drama of a society that collapses at the slightest change, of a story that spirals out of control and threatens to engulf the narrators. The risk is great: being trapped forever in this new reality, with all that it implies in terms of massacres, negative events and antagonists. And what if, deep down, everything was for the best before? Isn’t that why we cling to meaningless traditions? Because they maintain a kind of harmony, a comfortable ease?

Len and Arimbo no longer want to be subjected to the ancestral story told by the elder. They want a touch of novelty, a narrative revolution, big or small, that will shake up this overly rigid dynamic. The message is both profound and subtle: it can be interpreted in many different ways. On the one hand, as a desire to break with traditions whose origins are no longer known and whose meaning has been diluted by repetition. On the other, as a desire to take back control of one’s own story, to reappropriate it and change it. It is through this learning, this evolution, that we can grow and flourish. On the other hand, Saviorless questions our origins and the narrative constructs associated with them. This is intimately linked to the development of the game, but we’ll get to that a little later.

The art of Saviorless video game, three characters on top of a mountain, Tobias says Each narrator is linked for life to a specific story

The way we tell ourselves a story, propagate it and bring it to life is both political and societal. A story is a tool: of propaganda, anchoring a country in a vision fantasised by its leader; of rebirth, appropriating its oppressions, its experiences, making them its own; of adventure, with the aim of escaping, experiencing other things; but also of liberation, the cathartic tool it can become. What if the quest for initiation were to change its perspective? What if it was no longer a question of becoming a ‘Saviour’, but of freeing oneself from the shackles of a narrative representative of a bygone past? Who, Antar, Len or Arimbo, will be the tools of this liberation? They won’t be the only ones. You’ll come across Vide, Nada, two teenagers on their way to the Smiling Isles; Saviours who are still able to speak and give you a few scraps of information. Evocative names, each with a meaning, as the developers explain:
“I intended to move away from the type of expository narrative that is so characteristic of 2D platforms, allowing the content to be generated mainly from the juxtaposition of visual and text elements, thus generating a certain semantic ambiguity, of a vague and obscure nature. In this way, the whole game is full of quotes and symbols, which help to interpret Antar’s journey not as ‘another’ well-worn adventure trip, but as a meta-symbolic construction as a whole. From this perspective, all the characters in the game function more as archetypes than as individuals.
The chronicler Dasein is an allusion to the concept of being-in-the-world [Da-sein] of Heidegger; applicable to the logic of the character and the anomalous place he occupies within the fictional reality of the protagonist. The character of Telah, who is the incarnation of history, an acronym for the term: ‘the evolutionary level above human’, used by the suicidal cult Heaven’s Gate, in their illusion of transcending their own earthly nature and ascending to the Universe on a comet. The room where Nada and Vide lie dead in the Red Fortress is inspired by a room that appears in the film Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom by Pier Paolo Pasolini, a film where the topic of control is questioned through a story… and so there are many other examples. I believe that my intention with these ‘alternative’ contents was to reinforce the conceptual topics that define Saviorless: control and the redefinition of reality.”

The art of Saviorless, video game, right, the game screen, left, a scene from the film Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Shakespeare wrote: “We are the stuff of which dreams are woven, and our little life is surrounded by sleep”. In Saviorless, we could modify this quote slightly: “We are the stuff from which stories are woven”. This is about predestination, about what we see and what the game hides from us (and about what I haven’t wanted to tell you before, including a plot twist to this very article). Saviorless goes further than just neat writing and a strong statement about the nature of storytelling: the game also shows us how a story can be told, revealing elements of the plot right from the home screen, hiding subtle details and meaningful references that your brain assimilates, almost unconsciously, only to have them blown up in your face once the scenario has revealed certain facts.

But before looking at the welcome screen, at this image, this picture, heavy with meaning and significance, it’s time for me to tell you what I’ve hidden, the mystery I didn’t want to tell you until I’d talked about the stories, the impact of the stories on an individual or a society, the weight of tradition and what it implies…

A world premiere ?

Just imagine. An unstable Internet, a country in permanent international tension, resources with limited access. Saviorless was developed under these conditions, and even worse: artist Josuhe Pagliery and programmer David Darias are both based in Havana. Eight years of work, a single laptop to develop the game, a lack of technology and knowledge, political problems with the arrival of Donald Trump in power and tensions with the island of Cuba, impacting internet access, among other things… Constant twists and turns for the two developers who never gave up on releasing their game.

Indeed, Saviorless is the first Cuban independent game to have gone beyond the borders of its own country to be released internationally.

In an interview with Radio Canada, the two creators explain: “There’s simply no video game industry in Cuba. It’s very difficult to find someone who has the necessary knowledge to design a game.”

Smiling Josuhe Pagliery and David Darias join fists in a moment of complicity in front of computer screens.
Josuhe Pagliery (left) et David Darias (right), photo by Radio Canada

With that in mind, how could we not see the very plot of the game in a different light? We asked Josuhe Pagliery and David Darias to tell us about the genesis of the project, the context in which Saviorless was created… They tell us:
“From an early age, I dreamed of one day being able to create my own video game. It was something that I always had in mind, even while I was developing myself in other artistic endeavors, a kind of obsession. After the Havana Art Biennial in 2015, where I participated with the piece Destroyer, a non-game or art-game (as you prefer), I felt that I had taken a shortcut, using the video game more as a means than an end in itself. I think that right after that came the idea of making Saviorless, of creating a “real” video game.
As for difficulties… I’m not exaggerating if I say that we’ve suffered almost every imaginable problem that a developer can experience. You name them: inexperience, lack of resources, power outages… The bulk of Saviorless was made on two low-end computers, real clunkers; I remember that the whole assembly of the Indiegogo page had to be done from hotels and parks in the area, since at that time that was the only way to have internet access in Cuba. The expulsion of Innovadores Foundation from the island in 2017 (the North American foundation that helped us), the closure of the American Embassy, thus losing our exchange program, not being able to be signed by American publishers, the departure of the first programmer, followed by multiple friends and collaborators of the project over the years… to that add the loss of our original name “Savior”, after being registered by a Portland studio. And while all this was happening, well, time was passing… almost eight years of work! There are games that literally didn’t exist when we had already been working for years, and that today, however, we must recognize as influences and inspirations… but that’s how things are, developing
Saviorless was a personal decision that we made, and then took on as best we could, sometimes better, sometimes worse, with the good and the bad together.”

So read the above again. Relive the adventure in the light of your new knowledge. In the same way that, throughout Saviorless, you’ll be reinterpreting everything you’ve read over and over again, as new areas, new revelations, new twists and turns unfold…

The art of Saviorless, video game, game screen, Telah floats and says We are a story that does not need a voice to be told but a protagonist determined to finish it.

One question led to another and we asked them what they wanted to convey by creating a game, what was their main objective?
“Of course, I wanted to leave a kind of generational record, a testimony, which now covers almost a decade of work, within one of the most turbulent periods of recent Cuban history. It was also a tremendous challenge! The toughest test I have experienced to date, not only of my professional skills but also of my personal integrity and the conviction I had to fulfill a dream. A dream that no one in our adverse circumstances was supposed to have. That denial of denial is a very powerful personal characteristic in me, so there was also some challenge and pride involved, but being completely honest, I think I was mainly looking to please that child who was once fascinated forever by an Intellivision, in the 80s.”

For our part, we’re going to continue our exploration. Our first destination is the home screen. Have you seen it? At the start of this article, the first image you had of the game… Did you see it, the silhouette of the Smile Islands, the silhouette of this mysterious island that has been the subject of so much ink since its creation in 1880 and 1886? It’s the prelude to a metaphorical journey through pop culture, of course, but it’s also the shadow of everything that dissonates in Saviorless.

The Art of… Dive into the screens of Saviorless

Once upon an island

There’s an island that shook up the history of art and pop culture, and continues to trace its path, discreetly, through the arts. Novels with references to it, music, videos (notably the excellent ALT236), paintings, but also videogame exploration.

Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead is a series of canvases painted between 1880 and 1886. Basel, New York, Berlin, Leipzig, and one destroyed in a bombing raid during the Second World War. There are currently five different versions of the painting. Behind the legend of The Isle of the Dead, of this symbolism of the afterlife, of the Isle of Avalon to which one heads in a boat, to this island symbolising both Limbo and other versions of the afterlife, lies a series of paintings with a tumultuous life. We won’t repeat here ATL236’s excellent video on the subject, but it’s well worth a look.

The story of The Isle of the Dead has found its way into pop culture through various references. It can be found in the comic strip Les Cités Obscures by Benoît Peeters and François Schuiten, as the setting for two Magic cards, but also in video games in a more or less discreet way (as a canvas in the Animal Crossing museum, as the island where the game RiME takes place, and even in Signalis, which we’ve already told you about here). Of course, you’ve noticed: in the background of the Saviorless home screen is also the Isle of the Dead. And what is sometimes invisible because of the menus and the title quickly becomes much more visible during the cinematic that turns everything on its head.

The art of Saviorless, video game, game screen with the painting Isle of the Dead in the background and Antar in the foreground

People talk about The Isle of the Dead, but in the case of Saviorless, we should be talking about the ‘Smiling Isles’. For that is Antar’s destination, his hope of becoming Saviorless. But therein lies the dissonance that’s bound to set you off: how can the Isle of the Dead, shrouded in mystery and darkness, also be the Smiling Isles, the positive archetype for the conclusion of our character’s initiatory quest? Can these two versions coexist? Can they even exist together in the same space?

The dissonance induced by this antagonistic vision resonates throughout the game. Whether or not you’ve been paying attention to the image at the bottom of the home screen, there are many other elements that remind you of this dissonance: the twilight tones of the game, made up of browns, greys, dark shades and, at times, even ‘dull’ tones. The presence of angular, sharp-looking elements that represent a potential danger. The presence of The Isle of the Dead, discreet but very present, reinforces the feeling of unease, the impression that something is wrong, that nothing is going to go according to plan.

Precision of line

As well as the reference to the Isle of the Dead, there are also references to painting and drawing. Artist Josuhe Pagliery has drawn Saviorless entirely by hand. It’s a titanic task, but one that makes for a title with a very special aesthetic. Asked about the process of creating such a game, entirely by hand, he replies:
“The artistic style of Saviorless can only be described as digital craftsmanship. Everything is done and placed specifically by hand. The visuals start from a strict flat design that is never betrayed, with a strong graphic element that takes from comics and manga, without being a direct reference to these styles. There is a certain iconic-religious tone in many of the game’s visual motifs, highlighted by a symbolic sensibility that appeals to melancholy and death. These are all topics that I am passionate about, so it came naturally to me to use an artistic process that entailed the same type of commitment on a formal level, hence the handmade finish. The animations, another very important visual element, are also completely handmade in a style close to full animation, enhancing the entire expressiveness of the product; we are talking about frame-by-frame animations, with an average of 18/20 drawings per cycle, a particularly complex style from a production point of view.”

The art of Saviorless, video game, right, a plant element from the game, left, the tree from the Kirby game

There are many, many references in Saviorless. Some obvious, like the tree and Kirby; some more obscure, like those mentioned above with the film Sado or the 120 Days of Sodom. In many ways, Saviorless is a profoundly rich title, drawing on everything from reality and fiction to the codes of one genre or another. Josuhe Pagliery’s precise lines bring dark but dense environments to life.

Before delving further into some of the other aspects, who better than the artist to tell us about some of the other influences that went into the creation of Saviorless?
“Well, more than an influence, it was a modest tribute that I paid not only to Kirby, but also to other titles that marked my adolescence such as: FF6, Street Fighter, Earthworm Jim, etc… Now, if we talk about visible influences in Saviorless, I would have to mention Another World, I think any narrative platform owes a lot to this title. In terms of structure, games like Earthworm Jim and Goemon (The legend of the mystical ninja) have been a constant source of inspiration. The seemingly illogical correlation of content, reflected in mini-games and abrupt gameplay changes in these two games, has always impressed me tremendously. Finally, I believe that much of the melancholic tone of Saviorless owes to the work of Fumito Ueda; and I also borrowed some of the dynamism and visual solidity of old titles like Demon’s Crest, Capcom’s Aladdin and Super Castlevania IV, all from Snes, my favorite console.”

But that’s not all…

Water, fire, earth and air…

In many ways, Saviorless plays with the elements of reality, shaping its story according to your actions, questioning the predestination of stories. But more than that, Saviorless plays with the elements. And the way they are used is fascinating…

It all begins with a ride high into the sky. The air? Well, almost. One of the first levels takes us through an aerial city, very reminiscent of the architectural structures in Gris. But even more than that, the use of air is mirrored here: at the beginning, when the journey to the islands begins (even if it’s not the very first level), but also at the end, with Antar’s ascent, which takes him through wind tunnels that allow him to rise. Air is used as the breath of travel and the breath of knowledge, pushing Antar forward.

The art of Saviorless, video game, game screen, the character floats, arms outstretched, carried by an updraft

The water takes us into the depths, into the abyss. But that’s also where a certain character appears, where we begin to understand what’s going on. Isn’t it by sinking into the depths of reality that we begin to perceive the truth? Extrapolating from this, there is also the idea of baptism, the complete immersion that shows you are worthy of becoming a Saviour. A double meaning that refers to the same idea: that of discovering reality, the elements that shape the world and the perils that our character will encounter.

Fire is very much present, whether in the red hues, in some of the final levels, or in the powers of the other Saviours. Purifying fire, divine punishment, it continues the story, playing on the idea that every part of Antar’s journey is designed to make him aware of the reality of things, to free him from the shackles of his own narrative.

The art of Saviorless, video game, game screen, two monumental sculptures hold the doors leading to a room where three chimneys spit fire

As for the land, it’s hard not to see in the settings of the levels taking place in trees the shadow of the wooden knights of our childhood. If there’s Kirby in those trees, there’s also a knight, a vestige of the tales and legends of yesteryear, abandoned to the point of merging with the surrounding nature. At times frozen for eternity in the background, at other times alarmed by what we know of video game codes, we almost expect him to detach himself from the background, start moving and attack us. At times melancholy, it also embodies the remnants of the tales and legends of the past, the childhood heroes we abandon as adults, the knights of legends who can no longer come to save us.

The art of Saviorless, video game, game screen, plant level with a gigantic wooden knight in the background and two small characters in the foreground

A world in ruins

In Saviorless, videogame ruins rub shoulders with real ruins. The ruins of a world falling apart, collapsing in on itself and its narratives. As we’ve said, there are many parallels between the history of Cuba and Saviorless. They are both narrative and graphic. And they go as far as playing on architecture and colour.

The art of Saviorless, video game, game screen, aerial level representing the ruins of a city

The architecture of Saviorless may seem linear. But it’s not totally linear. Sure, you go from point A to point B. But the game is full of other elements that make you think about the level in a different way: the transformation transcends you and changes the controls, for example. You become the Saviour, at the cost of your humanity and your life, all white and red, immaculate and bloody. Each element has a double aspect, like a coin with two opposing sides. Monsters hide in the bells. Characters are transformed, hatching into foul larvae… These humans are then the cocoons, the flesh chrysalises of these creatures that attack you on sight.

The construction of the levels is all the more interesting in that even the direction of scrolling is interesting. From left to right, towards the future, in a large part of the game; from right to left, symbolically towards the past, in the final ending (and epilogue). The reading direction then becomes the direction of progression, from chapter to chapter, from realisation to transformation of Antar and the story.

Until everything collapses. Until the ground shakes, until the structure of the story echoes that of the universe, collapsing in on itself. As we’ve already mentioned, everything in Saviorless is about storytelling. The game is a deep, meta narrative, in which each element echoes another, and then another, in a chain reaction that shakes the foundations of video games as much as it shakes yours, because the effect is all the more striking when you hold the controller in your hand.

This hybrid architecture, made up of script and graphics, is reflected in one of the game’s strongest scenes. There, where the platformer is now based directly on the dialogue bubbles of certain characters, their words becoming the medium for your progress, fading as they wall themselves off in silence, appearing when they open their mouths. The effect becomes even stronger when you realise that the setting is an immense library, that what’s falling out are the pages of books, and that that platform over there is an open book.

Saviorless is in the details. In the choice of colours for his Saviours: red and white, combining the symbolism of purity and innocence (the white) with that of violence and blood (the red). The aesthetics of the masks, the bonnets worn by the Saviours that deny their original identity and give them a new one. The halo around their heads, a vestige of the quasi-religious glory of their status. The name ‘Smiling Islands’ which, when you realise the full extent of what awaits you, turns into a menacing sneer and a terrifying grimace. But also to the play on elements and their meaning, the details hidden in the scenery but which become important if you pay attention. Symbolism is strong and powerful in Saviorless, an essential element central to the story.

The art of Saviorless, video game, game screen, Dasein explains Without the missing pages, your story will remain unfinished forever.

Everything comes to an end

And Saviorless is no exception. The introduction of a new character, a sort of deus ex machina incarnate, the level of the Red Fortress, the whole conclusion of this story (and this article) revolves around the same idea: is this really a story? There are two endings to Saviorless, and they’re not really good and bad endings. The two complement each other perfectly. There’s the ending and the epilogue, in a way. The first is incomplete: it’s obtained by finishing the game, completing the Red Fortress and defeating the last boss. You then fully become the Saviour you wanted to be, beastly, striking down the abominations that also claim to be Saviours. The second is achieved by fully completing your story. Remember the collectibles, those fragments of pages scattered all over the place? Obtaining them allows you to open a chest at the end of a level/chapter and obtain an item. It’s these various artefacts combined that reveal the epilogue.

A bittersweet epilogue in which even Narrator Tobias warns you not to get too excited. You notice that the top of the mountain is almost deserted. Len and Arimbo have disappeared. Then you remember the bodies of Vide and Nada. Two synonyms for ‘Nothing’, ‘Void’, two figures who looked like Len and Arimbo at heart. No ?

Like the whole game, Saviorless‘ conclusion is as bitter as it is meta. It questions the stories, the lives lost, the events you’ve just lived through, to push you to put them into perspective. You’ve “won”, yes. But at what cost? What sequence of events and situations, some positive, some dramatic, have led to this conclusion? What history have you shaped? What paths have you travelled? What lessons have you learned?

We also asked the developers about what they’ve learned and what’s next:
“It’s a common misconception that having years of experience as a gamer automatically qualifies you as a potential developer. So, in essence, I was just that kind of person, one with the highest expectations and the least practical knowledge related to development; and of course, with this being my background, my approach to production was quite naive. If you look exclusively at the result, you could say that this approach didn’t work out too badly for Saviorless, but… if you take into account all the time it took us to get to that point, around eight years of work, you’ll realize that our production efficiency was less than ideal. In our case, we countered our lack of resources and experience with an infinite amount of production time. I believe that in a second project, I would try to focus much more on all these “invisible” aspects that make you more efficient and, by default, more competitive.”

Profound in all its aspects, Saviorless is not just a game, it’s an experience to be lived, beyond the classic platformer with its fluid progression. We won’t go into its progressive difficulty curve here, teaching us mechanics as we go along, as we grow and blossom, as we take on roles as circumstances dictate. We’ve only briefly touched on the characters and their archetypal power, their profound representation and their impact on the way you perceive the game. Because you could very well devour Saviorless as an interesting experience, detached from the story and its scope. To enjoy a platformer with demanding mechanics and interesting level design.

Or you can immerse yourself body and soul and become, in turn, a narrator unaware of his own condition…


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