Relic Hunters Legend mashes up online four-player shooters with role-playing games, and it’s got a cheeky colorful style that looks like it would be comfortable on Cartoon Network. Developer Rogue Snail launched its Kickstarter campaign today, and it plans to release on PC, Mac, and Linux in 2018, with possible console debuts later on.

Relic Hunters Legend grew out of its predecessor, Relic Hunters Zero, which was an open-source free-to-play top-down shooter that attracted 1.2 million players. Rogue Snail founder Mark Venturelli said that Relic Hunters Zero emerged from a game jam project called Space Jimmy.

Venturelli was developing his previous game, Chroma Squad (a tactical RPG about stuntmen who fight crime, when he decided to attend a 48-hour game jam with his colleague and friend Betu Souza.

“We were right in the middle of [Chroma Squad],” said Venturelli. “It was that period where you start to get to be really tired, nothing seems to be working out, and you get demotivated. We did a game jam, because that’s what you do when you’re tired of making games. You make more games.”

Once the game jam was over, Space Jimmy evolved into Relic Hunters Zero, a simple top-down shooter that was all about zapping enemies and collecting loot. Venturelli and Souza kept working on it on the weekends. Because they were still wrapping up Chroma Squad, they decided to turn it over to the players, making it a free, open-source game.

“Lots of people were making mods and tweaking it and fixing bugs in the code,” said Venturelli. “We actually supported the game. I was so excited that I kept taking weekends to keep updating the game. We updated it 16 times, made 16 major updates in the last couple of years. It got more than one million players.”

While Relic Hunters Zero was a fairly straightforward shoot ’em-and-loot ’em, Relic Hunters Legend fleshes out the world. The heroes are the Relic Hunters, who start as a group of scavengers in a dystopian sci-fi world ruled by the evil emperor Duke Ducan. When they discover that Ducan somehow stole the past and recreated the world in his image, they decide to try to reclaim the true version of reality and save the universe.

Venturelli is based in Brazil, and he says that local politics inspired a lot of themes in Relic Hunters Legend.

“It’s a story about memories, and what history can actually teach us here in the present,” said Venturelli. “A lot of it is based on things we’ve lived through here in Brazil, especially the last 10 years of the political climate here in Brazil, and the idea that you can erase things and keep people in ignorance.”

The Relic Hunters represent a kind of rebellious critical-thinking, about challenging what’s known about the world and the current hierarchies, and searching for their own truths.

“It’s very young. It fits the aesthetic,” said Venturelli. “But at the same time we want to go deep into not only the philosophical things about what it means to actually remember things and what it means to have a place in the world, to know what your place is, to know what you came from and what you’re supposed to be.”

It’s the first time Venturelli has worked on a sequel, and he says it’s an exciting experience for a game designer. He’s building on a world and mechanics that are already established and that he knows the fan base likes. Throughout the development of Relic Hunters Legend, he intends to maintain the open-source spirit from the prequel; he plans on frequently releasing versions for people to play and he wants to hear what the community thinks.

In addition to having a fully realized story, Relic Hunters Legend will feature different gameplay elements. Players will be able to engage with a fully 3D environment and climb on parts of the landscape.

“You can climb up and drop down and fire at enemies on different levels, something you couldn’t do in Relic Hunters Zero,” said Venturelli. We also wanted to improve the AI and maneuverability and include skills.”

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