By Pablo Vargas |

'Unto the End' is one of those independent games that grabs you all at once with an extremely interesting proposal that has captured the attention of locals and strangers alike, with a challenging combat adventure game in the style of a cinematic platform game whose main objective is it is to return home with your family, on a journey full of unexpected emotions.

In Revista Level Up we spoke exclusively with director Stephen Danton about the creation and development process of this interesting video game that is available for Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch and PC.

First of all, congratulations on the game. How was that creative process of bringing this great game to life?

Thanks, Sara and I had a lot of fun working on Unto The End. We worked hard to make something unique and distinct, and actively avoided copy-pasting existing systems from other side-on games or popular games like Dark Souls. As an aside: many players expect “guy with sword” to equal some derivation of Dark Souls. But approaching Unto like Dark Souls makes the game much harder than it really is -- rolling around and hacking at your opponent is far from the best way to fight :).

As designers we like to start from a set of first principles. For Unto that was taking what we feel makes a side-on view particularly interesting and factoring that into every challenge you face through the game: combat, traps, jumps, etc. 

We spent the first 18 months or so just on combat -- iterating, refining, tweaking. After we were happy with combat, we layered on the ability to avoid fights. Working to make all of the characters you face unique, intelligent, territorial or honourable, but never evil. There are no “trash” or “filler” opponents in Unto, and no opponent is there just because we wanted you to have something to kill -- it can help to think of each opponent as a “boss”. Lastly, we added puzzle-like solutions for overcoming Unto’s hardest fights: using items, terrain, friendly fire, etc., to turn things in your favour. 

Ultimately we wanted Unto to tell a story of happenstance, rather some epic quest or journey. The story you experience is born from your actions, rather than a set script. Your decision to help, steal, kill, ignore, trade, use an item, etc shapes how you overcome a specific challenge, future challenges and ultimately how you see the father relative to those creatures you meet. Overall there are 100+ choices you can make throughout the journey. Three endings you can find. And an unlockable playmode that ties into the story / setting. 

Unto is designed to be played through at least 3 times, with the hope you’ll try out different things, explore its nooks and crannies, and master its mechanics and systems. 

As developers, what has been the main challenge you have faced in the process of bringing the concept of the game to reality?

Crafting something new and pushing against conventions was probably the biggest challenge. Making a combat-centric game where you don’t have to fight anything, and where all of the interactions are told through posture and gestures rather than words, took a lot of iteration and refinement, but something we really enjoyed making.

How was the creation process of main characters? No spoilers, what can you tell us about this interesting story?

There aren’t really “main characters” in Unto. Every creature is as important as the father and your family. The more we refined the characters, the more excited we got about making them average. The father, who you play, the wife and daughter, the creatures you face. All of them have a reason for being in the world, they have goals they are trying to realise and things they are trying to protect. We wanted to tell a grounded story, that is about the adventure of an average person in way over their head. Sweeping epics are great, but like movies and films, simple stories about everyday people are interesting too, we think.

What influences did other games, movies, and books have in building this wonderful game?

We were mostly influenced by our own travels. Time we spent in Scotland, in and around Isle of Skye, and in Iceland. While out hiking and adventuring we’d often make up little stories for ourselves about the area we were moving through. A lot of those stories made it into the game, which was really fun to see.

We also took inspiration from movies like Star Wars, Willow, 13th Warrior, and Contact -- a lot of Unto is really about “first contact” with intelligent creatures you share no language with. And then games like Another World / Out of this World, Flashback, BELOW, Hyper Light Drifter and Punch-Out!!

Some final words, for those of us who are looking forward to this beautiful game

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for checking out Unto. 

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