Indie Studio: Twisted Ramble Games

Hi there! Tell us a bit about yourself and your studio.

Hello! I’m Kerstin, I’m part of a three-women indie studio called Twisted Ramble Games.

We create narrative driven games about serious topics, e.g. mental illnesses, but in a light-hearted manner. My focus lies on narrative and game design and programming. Verena takes care of everything art related, from character design to animation. And Sandra focuses on level design as well as administrative and organizational tasks.

What game are you currently working on?

We are currently working on Duru: a game about mole rats and depression. It’s a 2D puzzle platformer set in a west-african inspired mole rat colony. You play as Tuli who suffers from depression. Her illness takes slowly more and more room of her everyday life and once easy tasks become complicated hurdles. Tuli’s depression is depicted in the form of the creature Bel, an unreliable and sometimes utterly unhelpful AI companion. Apart from Tuli nobody can see Bel so none of the other mole rats know what’s going on or why she changes. The focus of the game is on the misunderstandings that can happen in every day social situations with someone who suffers from depression. We want to raise awareness for this and show how somebody might help a friend, family member or colleague suffering from depression.

What inspired Duru?

Each of us has a friend suffering from depression and I was myself for a long time and sometimes still am. I can openly talk about it but it took a long time to get there and many haven’t reached that point yet. It’s important to constantly work on destigmatizing this illness and create an enviroment that is more understanding towards their feelings and problems.

That’s what inspires Duru. Our game doesn’t aim to help someone suffering from depression directly but tries to make their lifes easier by sensibilizing those around them.

We noticed that even people who know about depression sometimes struggle to say or do the right thing. Without the knowledge it’s easy to make a mistake or misinterpreted someone with depression. If a friend closes off and distances themselves it’s hard not to feel hurt. But it’s that time that constantly reaching out is important even if they not always have the strength to appreciate it.

What makes Duru special?

Our game is for those who want to learn about depression but are afraid of the topic. Duru depicts this dark material in a colorful, light hearted way with humour and always respect.

Duru is also a game for players who are looking for a different approach to puzzle platformers due to our AI companion, Bel. Tuli can draw objects from her mind into reality to solve puzzles and progress. Bel can manipulate these objects shoving them away or even eating them.

Players have to learn to adapt to this behaviour and progress despite Bel. Players who like cute or quirky characters you can interact with and befriend to learn their stories will definitely be happy with Duru.

How is Duru different to other games in the genre?

The colorful way in which we depict depression is something we rarely see in games with similar topics. Someone at a convention told us she was glad it’s not all dark because she was afraid it might trigger something. Moments like that make us happy and encourage us to stick with our decision.

It’s also rare that a companion, who follows you nearly through the whole game, isn’t helpful or supporting but quite the opposite. Bel is something you can’t get rid off and you, as a player, have to adapt to. You have to use it to your advantage to progress through the levels.

What’s currently happening in development for Duru?

We’re currently working on translating our prototype into a demo. So all game mechanics, many graphics and animations are there. What’s left to do is finishing animation and some example story lines for our NPC mole rats, creating levels and cut scenes and make sure there are no major bugs getting in the way of our test players.

When is Duru being released?

We are aiming for August but due to the current pandemic situation things have slowed down. So we very probably have to adjust our date.

Where is the best place to get the latest news about Duru?

Best places are Twitter and our Newsletter! 🙂

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Twisted_Ramble
Newsletter: https://www.twisted-ramble.com/#newsletter

We’re also on Instagram (twistedramblegames) and Facebook (TwistedRamble).

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about Duru?

Our characters are grey mole rats not naked mole rats… or beavers, merecats, weasels, rats…Listening to theories about the nature of our characters at conventions was always great fun! 😀

Grey mole rats are basically naked mole rats but with fur 🙂

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