Chatting with SERUM Creative Director, Michał Ojrzyński

by MaddOx
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Welcome to another thrilling exploration into the future of gaming, where the boundaries of survival and strategy merge into an engaging narrative. Today, we’re excited to present an exclusive interview with Michał Ojrzyński, the creative mind behind Game Island’s latest venture, SERUM.

This game stands as a bold statement in the realm of survival adventures, introducing a unique serum-based gameplay mechanic set against the backdrop of a world crippled by environmental neglect. Through Michał’s insights, we’ll uncover the inspirations, challenges, and innovative features that define SERUM, offering players an immersive experience unlike any other.

Prepare to delve into a world where every decision counts and survival hinges on the very essence of life itself.

Could you introduce yourself and your role in the development of SERUM?

Michał Ojrzyński, Creative Director behind SERUM.

What was the inspiration behind the game’s unique survival concept, particularly the use of the serum as a central gameplay mechanic?

While SERUM draws inspiration from a few sources based in the science-fiction and survival genre known in games, literature and other pop-culture sources, we still managed to create something unique. The concept of the “doom clock” may feel familiar. Still, SERUM focuses more on the brewing aspect, where the players can devise different strategies to overcome the obstacles ahead by creating various mixes of the life-prolonging substance and using it to enhance their character’s abilities.

Can you tell us more about the Blight and how it affects the world and gameplay in SERUM?

The Blight is an apocalyptic event caused by the constant negligence of the environmental changes. It’s basically a man-made extinction event and nature’s way of saying “enough”. Due to the pollution of the environment by mankind, the world as we know lies in ruins.

The various illnesses caused by The Blight first started the extinction of many animal species, and soon after, it began to take the lives of humans. The EVAS corporation was the first to find a cure for the effects of The Blight, but it requires constant administration and only works for a limited amount of time. Hence, every human who can afford the cure must have a timer embedded in their forearm and constantly check the time for the next dose.

Environment affected by the Blight in Serum

The game includes both melee and ranged combat without a target lock. How does this influence the combat experience in the game?

Of course, we fight for our lives in SERUM, but we do not consider combat one of its core features. We wanted it to feel very primal. The players will battle various creatures using primitive hand-made weapons like spears, machetes, clubs and a bow for long-range combat. The players can craft several traps and devices, but the primary weapon is the strategic use of Serum and the enhancements it will offer.

There is also a co-op mode where only the host plays the main character. How does this affect the gameplay dynamics between players?

The players joining the host will work towards the same goal as the main character and help him on his journey out of the island. Together, they can search for essential Serum ingredients and cooperate to gain an advantage over the dangerous creatures that will stand in their way.

The game was rebuilt in Unreal Engine 5. How did this transition enhance the game’s visual and technical capabilities?

Transitioning Serum to Unreal Engine 5 was a monumental leap forward for both the game’s visual and technical aspects. It has been instrumental in realising our vision for Serum, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of both visual fidelity and technical innovation. We’re incredibly excited to share this enhanced experience with our players.

Serum trap set up to catch animals

What can players expect in terms of crafting and weapon customisation in the game?

Every weapon in Serum will have several tiers to unlock, and players can modify them to deal more damage. Some modifications will also unlock special attacks that will use more of our character’s stamina but can get us out of a tight spot when needed. Weapons are not the only craftable items in Serum, though. Players will also craft various traps and devices useful during exploration.

How do exploration and survival interplay in SERUM’s gameplay, and what challenges will players face in this environment?

Players will find themselves in a hazardous environment where almost every living being has been altered by the unexpected mutations caused by Serum experiments. Still, the creatures will not be their only concern. Some areas may be unreachable to them at first and will require a specific variant of Serum to become available for the players. Having a proper Serum-induced ability will become crucial during exploration.

The game allows players to create different serum formulas. How do these formulas impact the player’s abilities and survival strategies?

The abilities that our main character can gain from using the different Serum recipes range from immunity to environmental hazards to what some might consider superpowers, like inhuman strength or night vision. All will become crucial to survive, depending on the current situation and progression.

SERUM gameplay at workbench

How does the environment in the game react to player actions, and what unique elements does it bring to the survival genre?

The constant time pressure the players will face is a unique aspect of the game. Considering that we might not be able to return from an excursion in time to purify our blood from the deadly effects of The Blight or administer the next dose of Serum to prolong our life is indeed a fresh twist on the survival genre. We must never forget that serum can be both a curse and a lifeline, and we must be ready to bear the consequences of our loadout choices every time we leave our base.

With the game entering early access, how do you plan to incorporate player feedback into the game’s development?

Player feedback is invaluable as we continue developing SERUM during its early access phase. We see our community as an essential part of the development process, and we’re committed to actively listening to their thoughts, suggestions, and concerns to shape the game into the best possible experience. Ultimately, our goal is to work hand in hand with our community to shape SERUM into a game that exceeds expectations and delivers a truly exceptional experience for all players.

If you could choose any other game’s world for the SERUM to appear in, which would it be and why?

Many people would probably expect me to say either Fallout or Bioshock, but If I were to choose, I would pick the rich and immersive universe of The Elder Scrolls series. Bringing Serum into Tamriel would offer a captivating fusion of Serum’s futuristic, dystopian setting with the deep lore and diverse environments. Just imagine fighting all those mythical creatures while dosing yourself with Serum to gain those superhuman abilities to tip the scale.

As our journey through the desolate yet intriguing world of SERUM comes to an end, we’re left with a deeper understanding of the passion and innovation driving Game Island. Michał Ojrzyński’s vision for a game that transcends traditional survival mechanics and immerses players in a narrative-rich, strategy-driven experience is nothing short of revolutionary.

With a community-focused development approach and a commitment to leveraging the latest technology, the game is poised to redefine the boundaries of the genre. Whether you’re a seasoned survivalist or new to the challenge, the game offers a unique adventure that promises to captivate and engage.

We thank Michał for sharing his journey with us and look forward to the impact SERUM will have on the future of gaming.

For more reasons why you should check out this game, watch the video below:

For even more Q&As like this, check out our interview section.

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