Imagine how different The Witcher games might've been if Geralt's creator, Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, had founded a videogame studio in the 90s and started making games himself. That's the story playing out now with Devil's Hunt, a new action game from publisher 1C Company and upstart Polish studio Layopi Games. Writer Paweł Leśniak wrote a novel called Równowaga (Equilibrium), about a war between angels and demons, with a man named Desmond torn between both sides. Then he founded a dev studio to turn that story into a game.
"The game features a heavy storyline that brings you back and forth between hell, modern USA, and an ancient city," says game director Michał Sadowski. That story will follow Desmond as he becomes caught up in in the slugfest between angels and demons and learns "about his own secrets." Calling it now: Desmond's daddy was a demon.
"We plan some puzzles to solve, as well as many other obstacles that the player will have to cope with. Devil’s Hunt is intended as the first game of the series, and we want to put a strong focus on introducing the player to the game world and lore behind it."
The heaven-vs-hell setup translates to an arsenal of human and demonic abilities for Desmond, which you can get a hint of in early screenshots of Devil's Hunt.
"We are working on a robust skill and combo system. It should be easy to learn and hard to master, with the possibility for the players to create their own character builds on the fly," says Sadowski. You'll be able to reassign skill points at any time to mix up your play style, tailoring your strength towards physical combos or "magic-like skills."
What we don't know is how deeply those abilities will play into the story, and if there will be any repercussions for going full demon in combat. According to 1C and Sadowski, your progress through the linear story will involve using a mix of human and demonic abilities, rather than making a choice between the two sides.
"We focus more on showing the internal struggle of Desmond," Sadowski says. "He's caught up in the middle of the conflict he yet doesn’t understand. Everybody is trying to convince him to join their cause, and he tries to stay away from the agony of choice for as long as possible. Eventually he realizes that it’s not the choice that is a problem, but the people demanding it. So the story is more about growing up to the point where you can say 'screw you!' to the world and make your own decisions (while ripping some hearts out and smashing demons’ heads on the way)."
The setup of Devil's Hunt sounds like a story we've seen in various forms before—Constantine and Underworld come to mind—but exploring hell, a US environment, and an "ancient city" could make for a cool playable take on an age-old battle. We'll learn more next year, as it's out sometime in 2019. At the very least, we know it'll be faithful to the book.