Delver’s Drop: As Pretty As Link To The Past, But As Mysterious As The Very First Zelda



Among the many highlights of the PAX East 2013 Indie Mega Booth was Delver’s Drop. Some of you might recall it being that very pretty action RPG that recently graced Kickstarter.


Ryan Baker, founder and CCO of Pixelsopic, the developer behind Delver’s Drop, was on hand at the booth. He’s also responsible for the artwork, some of the game design, and “a little of everything else”. My first question was for him was to elaborate upon its (perhaps obvious) influences. He replied: “There are elements of RPG and Action RPG games that we’re attracted to.”


“And I know that sounds like such a blanket statement, but there are still parts of 8 and 16-bit games that are not yet well represented. Obviously, some games have managed to do so, like Bastion and The Binding of Isaac. We’re also trying to add stuff like multiple character classics, leveling up, and randomization. But not to the degree of something like Diablo or Torchlight.”


When asked what one game Delver’s Drop is compared to the most, at least on a purely visual level, the answer is always Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the SNES. But the aim was to create something that was on par with the game that started it all—the very first Zelda for the NES.


“There’s this sense of mystery that the very first game had that has slowly been lost with every new iteration. It just feels very formulaic… and maybe it’s just because of the last 20, 30 years of gaming experience, we all know what to expect at this point. So we wanted to go back to that sense of mystery, and throw randomization into the mix. Like with the items; you pick up a book and you have no idea what it does until you use it.”




Baker also cited how looking at roguelikes have helped lead the way, though the aim is to create something that is slightly more forgiving. However, when you’e tossed into a dungeon, if you die, you just don’t respawn with all your gear. It’ll be interesting to see if Delver’s Drop manages to strike that perfect balance of being approachable and yet also being a hardcore experience.


At the moment, the game is only about 10% complete. Production began over a year ago, but development has been slow due to a particularly long contract that the studio had been involved in. At the moment, much of the core gameplay and art style is complete. Whereas special attacks, the leveling system, and AI still needs work.


Only one tile set is complete at the moment. In the end, it is hoped that there will be 9 zones and 7 or more different character classes. Though whatever the case might be, at the very least the game will be pretty, if the one lone level is any indication. The very colorful graphics is where the Link to the Past comparison comes from.


Though the lighting effects are another story; you’ve basically never seen prettier shadows in any top down, 2D, old school action RPG. When asked about the visuals, Baker explained: “We really worked hard to bring 2D into HD effectively. In terms of inspiration, we’re huge fans of Vanillaware, especially Muramasa: The Demon Blade.”


Delver’s Drop is due later this fall, in October for both PC, Mac, and Linux. iOS, Android, and Ouya versions are pegged for early next year, in February.

Matt Hawkins