Rotterdam University's Game Design School Serves Up an Ace with "Soulbound"

A team of 13 students at the Hogeschool Rotterdam University have created a sales pitch to match anything any AAA studio has ever done. The sales pitch is this: Pokemon meets Diablo. That’s right, it’s the best premise ever.

Developer “Too Many Developers” are creating “Soulbound” as part of their final year course, but the game will not be complete until sometime after the group finish university. Of course, if their university grades them on premise alone, they’ll be getting a First Class degree for Soulbound.

It’s not just the premise which is looking good. The development itself appears to be going very well too. The game is a hack n slash dungeon crawler with a twist. The twist is that the protagonist is no Hercules or Conan, but a weak character who must survive by taming creatures.

Talk about turning the hack n slash genre on its head.

When the character tames creatures he can tether them to his soul. You can tether up four creatures and direct them separately, making the most use of their strengths and weaknesses. Much like Pokemon, the creatures level up, but if you lose one it’s gone forever. The developers have stated that Soulbound arose because they wanted the player to be able to catch and use enemies. It’s a truly fantastic gameplay innovation. 

Too Many Developers is planning to incorporate a crafting system so that you can catch monsters, harvest body parts and craft new beasts out of them.

Of course, the catching element was inspired by Pokemon, but the game was also inspired by Diablo and Baldur’s Gate, which account for the more typical hack n slash aspects of the game.

It never ceases to amaze me how indie developers and students are always able to come up with such innovative ideas. Truly, these are the sort of game designers who need to be working for AAA studios. Were these 13 students to find their place at the head of AAA game studios, surely the gaming industry would be a much more creative place, with more original games and less “factory line FPSs.”

Whether or not Soulbound ends up being as good as it appears to be, we’ll have to wait and see. What is certain, however, is that the thirteen students of “Too Many Developers” are bright minds that could very well go on to do wonderful things in the gaming industry. We wish them the best of luck.

 

Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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