Developer Nicholas Butera has spent the past 10 years working as an animator and producer. Two years ago he decided to try his hand at game development and now he’s ready to bring his efforts to Kickstarter. The resulting campaign for Soul’s Light may look like a simple premise at first glance, but its true brilliance creeps up in unexpected ways.
Seeking $25,000, Soul’s Light ostensibly tells the story of 17 year-old Alina, who is plagued by nightmares of the insidious Mr. Grinny. As a soul collector, Mr. Grinny traps his victims so he can steal their Soul’s Light, the source of his power. Alina is given one night to fight through the darkness and collect enough light to defeat Mr. Grinny for good.
Seems cute, but relatively basic right? Let’s delve deeper into the campaign for some added context. Butera defines Soul’s Light as the driving force inside all of us that keeps us moving forward. All of your hopes, passions, dreams, and love make up each individual’s Soul’s Light. Suddenly Mr. Grinny transporting the player to a world of infinite darkness and despair to steal these things becomes more frightening. It’s a simplified notion of a very real fear of losing or (worse) giving up on these things as you grow up. With Alina still in her adolescence the game seems to represent her internal struggle with impending adulthood.
It’s All In Your Head, Right?
It may seem like I’m reading too much into this, but Butera’s own inspiration for the project gives credence to the idea. In the campaign he mentions a reoccurring nightmare from childhood where a shadowed creature would enter his room at night. The hideous sharp-toothed beast would grin down at him with Butera unable to escape.
What makes this experience stand out is that while Butera initially wrote off these nightmarish visits as pure fantasy he later discovered they were actually a form of sleep paralysis. Many people who suffer from sleep paralysis have also admitting to seeing shadowed figures looming over them. This blurring of the perception of real and imagined fears carries over into the unique art style of Soul’s Light.
All animation and art assets are hand drawn before being painted with watercolors. This gives Soul’s Light a distinctly dreamlike quality further supporting the idea of impressionistic overtones. Some of our concerns and worries are too obscure to easily identify them in our waking hours. Soul’s Light gives players the rare opportunity to bring their own subconscious fears to light.