I’m an old-school gamer. I’m going to show my age here. I grew up on classic point & click adventures like Monkey Island, King’s Quest, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, and many, many others. . . LOOM!!! Voodoo Detective, from Short Sleeve Studios, aims to recreate that experience in the island town of New Ginen. I had the chance to ask Erics, Ackerman and Fulton, of the dev team behind the game a few questions and their answers have made me very excited for the game. . . The music is being composed by Peter McConnell!!! Even if you’re not into the point & click game style, the music is not to be missed and the Monkey Island games have absolutely phenomenal scores.
Check out the teaser for the game and then scroll on down to the interview. Voodoo Detective releases in 2022 for PC, iOS, and Android.
Voodoo Detective Interview with Devs Eric and Eric
Sierra and Lucasarts pretty much had a lock on the point & click adventure games, outside of their more popular titles, were there any indie gems that you took specific influences from?
There was a successful indie point-and-click adventure game called Unavowed released in 2018 by Wadjet Eye Games. I think it’s fair to say we (Eric Ackerman and myself, Eric Fulton) were influenced by that game. At the very least we paid attention to its design as we were researching how to handle certain user interface elements, in-game menus, aspect ratios, portraits, walk cycles, etc. It’s a fun romp if you’re looking for a classic point-and-click adventure.
And as long as we’re taking a stroll through the gallery of modern games that influenced Voodoo Detective, Oxenfree by Night School Studio was also one of the games that we kept coming back to for reference.
More recently, both Eric and I played Night in the Woods by Infinite Fall and The Forgotten City by Modern Storyteller. I don’t think they could be listed as influences for Voodoo Detective since most of our game is already made, but we both enjoyed those games. I (Eric F.) especially enjoyed The Forgotten City and recommend it to anyone looking for a game with a strong story.
Modern gaming has evolved incredibly over the past 30 years, how hard was it to balance modern gameplay sensibilities while staying true to the old school feel?
That’s a great question! Our philosophy has always been that, first and foremost, we’re here to tell a story and entertain you. We didn’t set out to replicate our favorite games, we wanted to take only our favorite pieces and assemble them around a story we thought was worth telling. A lot of the older games are characterized as difficult, but we think some of them were difficult in the wrong way. We’re looking directly at you, King’s Quest!
So, while we set out to honor the spirit of the classic adventure games our forebears left us, we want to push the genre forward rather than replicate the past. Our puzzles are difficult, but we never want you to have to seek help outside of the game to solve them. We have given Voodoo Detective every conceivable quality of life feature we could think of. I’ll give you some examples of all of these philosophies in practice.
In Voodoo Detective, there are no unrecoverable mistakes (in stark contrast to King’s Quest). If you lose the game, you can restart where you left off without hassle. If you don’t want to hear dialogue, you can skip it. You won’t have to consult a manual to decipher the user interface. If you don’t like waiting for Voodoo Detective to walk across the screen, you can push the “speed walk” button. If you’re a little bit stuck, you can always click on Voodoo Detective to hear what he’s thinking. We don’t employ “Moon Logic” in our puzzles.
When you play Voodoo Detective, it should feel as though you’re being drawn down a river in a gondola past a scenic countryside. You may have to paddle at times, but by and large, the water moves with you. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Ron Gilbert’s Grumpy Gamer blog. He has some very interesting and insightful lessons to share from his years at LucasArts.
In games like the Monkey Island series, Guybrush was unable to die, where in games like Kings Quest, your character could, can you talk a little bit about which route you chose and what led to that decision?
We spoke a little about this in the previous answer, but basically, there are scenarios in the game that result in an early rolling of the credits. However, none of these scenarios are unrecoverable. We will never try to trick or trap the player into an unsatisfactory ending.
Many of these games are also known for their amazing soundtracks, obviously, the setting of Voodoo Detective will directly influence the style of the music, but can you walk me through how you develop the score with your composer and how that will contribute to the tone of the game?
There are no words in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of men that could describe to you how completely excited we are about the soundtrack for Voodoo Detective! Our composer is none other than “The” Peter McConnell of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, and Psychonauts fame. The music in Voodoo Detective frequently favors a small jazz ensemble for the moody noir elements of the game, but we’ve also got a fair amount of classical strings, and other less western instruments to evoke the various aspects of the game’s heritage.
Whenever Peter started working on a new track, we’d begin with a few seeds of reference material for him to cultivate and grow into something unique. Eric and I would pick songs we thought fit the emotional requirements of each scene. Peter would take the reference material and send back musical sketches. Sometimes the sketch would be exactly what we were hoping for, and sometimes we would iterate on the idea. More often than not, the very first sketch is pretty close to what you’ll be hearing in the game.
Is there a story behind how you came to decide on the game’s setting?
Both Eric and I enjoy the whimsical contrast of gritty noir and tropical paradise, but beyond that, I honestly can’t recall any fun story behind the decision for the locale. We wish we had a more interesting answer for you!
The love the Erics have of point-and-click adventure games is very real and they have poured it into Voodoo Detective. The game is set to release on PC, iOS, and Android in 2022. For more on the game, Short Sleeve Studios, point-and-click adventure gaming, or gaming in general, The Illuminerdi has you covered. What do you think of Voodoo Detective? Do you like that there’s no bad ending? Was King’s Quest really that hard? Discuss all things point-and-click adventure gaming in the comment section below or hit us up on Twitter.