The origin story of an idea, creativity, and the growth of two youngsters.
It might be weird to find the words hope and soulless in the same sentence, since they kind of contradict each other, but we upped it a bit: we put them both in the title of our game. And let us assure you, they’re there for a reason.
This is the origin story of an idea, of creativity, and the growth of two high-school students who decided to walk a road paved with possibilities.
This a story about hope. This is our story
Soulless is an atmospheric 2D puzzle platformer with unique storytelling set in a world of silhouettes.
You play as a cute creature called Elin whose main goal is to save his friend, but to do that he has to jump down the rabbit hole into a magical world which is unknown to him.
He is guided through the world by a light that shines with hope, however the further he goes, he realizes the world only gets darker and darker and that he has to face his deepest fears through a lot of different mechanics, puzzles and battles, before he finds the truth behind the world.
On the surface, it looks like a classical story of saving your friend, but if you scratch a bit deeper, it becomes more complex, and more personal.
The story is meant to be at the same time straightforward and abstract. Your goal is simple, save you friend. Who is that friend? Who are you? Why are you here? That's all up to you to figure it out, and we are sure everyone is going to have an idea of their own.
We did this so you can be the writer of your own story.
We all know what high school is like, sometimes you are listening to things that actually interest you, but most of the time you just want to be somewhere else, to escape.
We, like many others, found our way out through video games. It wasn’t long before we decided that we want to do more than just play those games, walk through other people’s worlds, their reflections of themselves. We wanted to create our own.
You might ask, why? I guess you could say that we just had a burning desire for other people to see a piece of our soul and be moved by it, even if it was just for a moment. There was no sheet of music or a painting canvas that could tell what we wanted to, so we decided to go for the ultimate art form, video games.
We began our adventure, without even being aware of it, when we decided to make our first game. Something so simple, but we had to start somewhere. It was about rectangles, yes, rectangles. Back then it was the best feeling in the world for us, we were learning to walk the road that we so much yearned for.
We finished it after a while, we released it, and… Zip, a few hundred downloads. The weird thing is, we felt awesome. A few hundred people played our game, that was something that we couldn’t say the day before.
After that was done, some time passed before we even started talking about a new game, after all, we just wanted to do what every normal teenager does, party hard and go after girls. However, since we were one of the few in the school at the time making games, our school principal told us about this event called “Game Up”, which was basically an indie game expo. The problem? It was in 6 days, and we didn’t even have an idea for a game yet.
This was the biggest risk we took, and the best decision we ever made. We decided to make a game in 6 days, test our limits, see how far we can really go. The whole thing is kind of a blur, we barely slept, we were constantly exhausted, but we kept going, for we knew this was our chance to show people, and ourselves, that we can do this.
This demo was the seed of “Soulless, a game about hope”. It sort of looked like it, but it wasn’t it, at least not yet. We were really proud of ourselves after those 6 days, when we sent our application and saw how much we can really do in 6 days, it was a lot bigger than anything we have done previously, and we did it. I will always remember how we jumped up from our seats in class when we were accepted and the rounds of applauses that followed it. We went home and packed our bags and we were headed for Belgrade.
We set things up, eyeballing other people’s games and we’ve got to be honest, the first thing we asked ourselves was “Are people even going to like this?”. We were filled with anxiety as the first few people sat down to play, every key they pressed was like a skipped heartbeat for us. I can’t even begin to describe all the thoughts that were going through our head at the time.
As a matter of fact, we were thrilled when people got up and asked “Wait, you made this? And in 6 days? How old are you again?”. I guess people really liked us, as were voted into the top 5 and got to pitch our game in front of a large crowd and several judges whom were industry professionals. We had no idea what we were doing but we went with the flow and it turned out okay, I suppose people loved the idea that if we can try and chase our dreams, that anyone can. We made a lot of great friends, we got a lot of advice, and we knew what we had to do next. We sat at the bus station, extremely tired, filled with excitement but no strength to show it. It was then that we even got the idea for the main character, Elin. We had to grow this game into what it deserves to be.
After numerous advice, we knew what the game lacked. It lacked that little spark that can set fire in some people, for us that is what makes a video game. From there, we dreamed big, perhaps far too big as we thought countless times. It was, and still is, a hard road, not filled with flowers and butterflies in the beginning but thorns and blood in which you stand knee deep. We had so many fights, we thought about giving up so many times, we didn’t believe in ourselves enough.
Thankfully, we were surrounded by people who supported us no matter what, people who gave us hope that we can chase these dreams of ours, and with that little bit of strength we got up in the morning to continue where we left off the day before. We made a lot of sacrifices walking, sometimes even crawling, through that road, we gambled everything we had at the time, our grades, relationships, our minds.
Here we are, sitting here, writing this, even though we know that, probably, not a lot of people are going to read this. Our game passed greenlight, we are headed to steam, the new demo sparked emotions into some people, it is finally growing into the shape it was born to be. We met amazing people, were guided by those who went before and finally, we see the light at the end of the tunnel and the green grass on the other side. The game is nearing completion, and this fills us with just as much sadness as it does with excitement, knowing that soon this chapter in our lives will be over.
We are young, we are naïve, we know a lot less than other people doing this, but we consider ourselves lucky for now we are walking a road that a year ago we could only dream of. For some, everything we have done is probably just no big deal but for us it is a gateway to bigger days. We are aware that people might not like the game at all, that it might fail, but it’s okay, because we love it and we’ll make sure to do better each time.
To wrap things up, we would like to say that we have no idea where we are headed next, and the best advice a couple of teenagers can give you is: Don’t give up, no matter what people tell you. For someone once said that we don’t choose our dreams, they choose us, therefore it is our responsibility to give them life.