Survival horror games are enjoying a major resurgence, which means there’s no shortage of promising titles in the genre to look forward to, and one that seems like it’s going to turn a few heads is Beneath. Coming from Camel 101, the developers of Those Who Remain, Beneath is promising a survival horror experience in an underwater setting complete with tense combat and exploration, oodles of atmosphere, sanity mechanics, and more, and as big fans of the genre, here at GamingBolt, our curiosity has obviously been piqued. To learn more about the game and what will make it tick, we recently reached out to its developers with a few of our questions. Below, you can read our interview with Camel 101’s Ricardo Cesteiro.
"Our objective was to create a game that evokes a sense of oppression and claustrophobia."
After Those Who Remain, what were the biggest challenges that you wanted to tackle with your next horror game? How does Beneath differ from it, and in what areas does it make the biggest changes or improvements?
Although both games fall under the horror genre, they differ substantially. Those Who Remain was mainly focused on narrative and puzzle-solving, while Beneath leans towards survival-horror. The contrast between the two games presents a considerable challenge. While Those Who Remain featured only a few onscreen characters, Beneath introduces groups of soldiers and creatures that engage in combat with the player, often requiring strategic AI decision-making.
In addition, there is a significant increase in the number of character interactions, which presents a challenge in creating realistic and impactful experiences. To address this, we’re using motion capture technology for the animations, which has been extremely beneficial so far.
All this adds several layers of complexity to the game, representing a significant advancement from our previous work.
What can you tell us about the game’s setting? Horror media has often been tied to oceanic settings, but what about it appealed to you specifically for Beneath?
Our objective was to create a game that evokes a sense of oppression and claustrophobia. Although we are fascinated by space, we have already created a survival horror game based in that setting, and we wanted to explore something new.
Consequently, we turned our attention towards the ocean, an enigmatic and largely uncharted environment that provides a perfect backdrop for a horror game. This setting also presents opportunities to experiment with unique gameplay mechanics.
Last but not least, we also drew some inspiration from HP Lovecraft’s works, which are usually tied to the sea.
It looks like sanity mechanics will play an important role in Beneath. While they have been a tried and true staple in psychological horror games over the years, what form will they take in Beneath specifically?
Sanity is a crucial element of the game mechanics and not just a gimmick. The game’s protagonist is psychologically unstable, a condition resulting from the influence of both a psychic entity and the stressful environment.
As the character interacts with specific objects or encounters psychic creatures, or when his health is too low, his sanity begins to deteriorate. This deterioration manifests as blurred vision, distorted sounds, and decreased accuracy. In extreme cases, powerful creatures might be spawned.
However, the character’s sanity will gradually recover if he’s not in immediate danger or combat. Essentially, sanity represents a handicap that ranges from a minor inconvenience to severe peril.
How much emphasis will the game place on exploration? What sort of a balance will it strike between combat and more slower-paced exploration and puzzle sections?
Exploration will be critical in the game, not just to uncover new areas and essential items or clues, but also to discover useful items such as health kits, ammunition, and weapon parts scattered throughout the environment.
Survival will necessitate combat, but the game’s progression is contingent upon exploration. Maintaining a balance between exploration and combat is essential to our design approach, as too much focus on action would transform the game into a shooter, an outcome that we want to avoid.
"Sanity is a crucial element of the game mechanics and not just a gimmick. The game’s protagonist is psychologically unstable, a condition resulting from the influence of both a psychic entity and the stressful environment."
What should players expect from Beneath’s deep sea diving sections where their unique mechanics are concerned?
Tense exploration moments. When the main character is exploring the exterior with the deep-sea diving suit, he doesn’t have access to his weapons. His sole means of defense are flares, which can be used to deter any inquisitive creatures.
Additionally, the oxygen supply is limited and requires replenishment when covering vast distances.
When it comes to the combat, what will Beneath have on offer with its variety in enemies, tools, and weapons?
There are four distinct weapon classes in the game: handguns, submachine-guns, rifles, and shotguns. Each class possesses unique advantages over the others and is more effective in specific situations or against particular foes. Weapon parts, collected throughout the game, can be used to upgrade the weapons at workbenches. These can be stats improvements or new weapon attachments.
The enemies encountered in the game can be either human or inhuman. Human soldiers work in teams and use tactics to try and defeat the player. Inhuman enemies have more straightforward behaviors, but they tend to be more resilient. Some enemies can be incredibly challenging, and it may be best to avoid them to conserve ammunition.
It’s important to note that a tactic that works against one enemy might not be successful against another. The player must determine how to approach each confrontation strategically.
What can you tell us about the game’s adaptive AI and destructible environments and what they will bring to the table for the combat side of things?
The soldiers in the game have a dynamic behavior, with each soldier having a unique set of options that can be chosen based on their situation and squad. They work together, with some units attempting to flank the player while others shoot directly at them. Different squads can prioritize either defense by firing from behind cover or an aggressive approach by launching an all-out assault upon detection.
Gunfire and explosions directly affect the game’s environment, with shattered glass, crumbling monitors and tables, and billowing steam from damaged pipes. Lamps swing precariously from the ceiling and may even come crashing down, while barrels deform from bullet impacts.
All of this adds to the immersion of the game, which is one of our primary goals.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of the game be?
While we cannot provide an exact figure, given the time that it takes to complete the sections that are already built, it is certain that the gameplay duration of the whole game will exceed 8 hours.
Given that you have now worked on all the current gen consoles, I hope you don’t mind answering some questions about their hardware. Since the reveal of the PS5 and Xbox Series’ specs, a lot of comparisons have been made between the GPU speeds of the two consoles, with the PS5 at 10.28 TFLOPS and the Xbox Series X at 12 TFLOPS. How much of an impact on development do you think that difference will have?
As previously mentioned, the game contains many complex elements, and therefore requires a considerable amount of computing power. Frankly, I’m uncertain whether we could port the game to a current-generation console without compromising some of its unique features.
The capabilities of the next-generation consoles provide us with greater opportunities to explore the full potential of the game without compromising its essence.
To answer the question, the impact is significant.
"A tactic that works against one enemy might not be successful against another. The player must determine how to approach each confrontation strategically."
The PS5 features an incredibly fast SSD with 5.5GB/s raw bandwidth. How can developers take advantage of this, and how does this compare to the Xbox Series X’s 2.4GB/s raw bandwidth?
With a raw bandwidth of 5.5GB/s and SSDs, loading and unloading assets will be faster, resulting in quicker asynchronous level loading and assets. Background loading of parts of levels will go unnoticed by players, and keeping VRAM usage low will enable faster games.
I don’t believe there will be a significant difference as most devs will likely use the baseline of 2.4GB/s when developing for multiple platforms. However, the situation may be different for exclusive titles where the platform’s specs can be pushed to the limit. For instance, higher quality textures may be used because the streaming time will be a lot lower.
Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X boast Zen 2 CPUs, but there is a difference in the processors of both consoles. The Xbox Series X features 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.8GHz, whereas the PS5 features 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz. Your thoughts on this difference?
I don’t believe the difference will be significant. Developers who target both consoles will likely create games that are equivalent in performance on both platforms. While Sony-exclusive titles may gain some advantages, I don’t think the difference will be substantial.
The Xbox Series S features lesser hardware compared to Xbox Series and Microsoft is pushing it as a 1440p/60 FPS console. Do you think it will be able to hold up for the more graphically intensive games as this generation progresses?
In my opinion, I do believe that the equipment is powerful enough to hold up among the others. However, it will require some additional work and optimization to ensure that it meets the necessary requirements. If the development team is able to effectively plan and optimize the game, taking advantage of the capabilities of the equipment, then it should be able to compete with other games on the market.
Super Resolution is coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. How do you think this will help game developers?
I believe that the technology of super resolution will prove to be particularly beneficial for small-scale developers. By enabling the simulation of higher resolution images from lower fidelity ones, it offers a viable solution for teams struggling to achieve higher resolutions in their games. Thus, it serves as an alternate means for enhancing the visual quality of games that face challenges in this regard.
"We’re aiming for 60 FPS."
What frame rate and resolution will the game target on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S?
We’re aiming for 60 FPS.
What are your thoughts on the Steam Deck? Do you have plans for any specific optimizations for the device?
It’s a wonderful device, we love it. Although we haven’t made any concrete plans for it as of yet, it’s definitely something that we will take into account and consider exploring in the future.