Lorelei and the Laser Eyes


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Title:

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes

Genre:

Puzzle Mystery

Release date:

May 16, 2024

A woman, summoned by an eccentric man to participate in a project in an old hotel somewhere in central Europe, becomes embroiled in a game of illusions, increasingly dangerous and surreal.

Now you are invited to fall into the same rabbit hole, in a non-linear mystery with an immense amount of handcrafted puzzles, constantly presenting you with new riddles to solve, each leading you closer to deciphering the enigma of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes.

Gameplay & Development


After finishing a big project, it’s easy to feel paralyzed. ”What now?” we asked ourselves after Sayonara Wild Hearts.

Simon had struggled with colors during Sayonara Wild Hearts, and so one of the first things we decided was that the next game should be black and white, and should have a slower tempo, be more contemplative, and perhaps be puzzle based. In a document where we had gathered ideas for fictive band names for our last game, Daniel had written “Lorelei and the Laser Humans”. Something struck a chord, but it didn’t exactly roll off the tongue. “Lorelei and the Laser… Eyes”. It was easy to imagine. At the time, Simon had started replaying the first Resident Evil games, and had developed a fascination for the film L’Année dernière à Marienbad. The idea that the game should take place in an old manor, or castle, came naturally. We had a couple of things, then. A title, and ideas about a slow game in black and white, which took place in an old manor.

Once again, we called upon Carl Karjalainen to help us model, rig and animate a character. We started developing a small prototype, in which the only inputs were the right and the left shoulder buttons. One cycled selections, and the other modified the selected objects. A woman, wearing sunglasses, mysteriously levitating in minimalistic 3D-environments, with black and white projected photos over them. You’d solve image based puzzles, which would create images that you’d travel into. It had an interesting atmosphere, but we weren’t completely sold on the gameplay.

What followed were years of developing what were more or less almost complete games, some more action filled than others, but almost all based on interesting ideas about 3D space, and 3D cameras being incorporated into the gameplay. To be honest, we would like to keep these ideas close to our chest, as we think they are still interesting enough to develop into their own stand-alone things. But, somewhere along the way here, a story, and a second character came along. The man, accompanying the woman. Each represented light and dark, right and left. This was incorporated into gameplay, through different ways, always relating to the idea of playing with how you would actually view the game. As these characters and the story evolved, we felt that the game needed to become less mechanical and innovation-driven, and instead focus on more conceptual story ideas. At the time, Simon was reading a lot of Paul Auster, and was interested in exploring story concepts of media within media, stories within stories, and the feeling of characters as more floating concepts, which would leave the player guessing who was who, or when the game even took place. No exact good, no direct evil, just a lurking feeling that things are not what they seem. Jonas joined the project around this time, and we started to build a mystery around these characters, and started to think of the story as a vessel to communicate ideas and concepts, rather than telling a traditional linear story.

The game became more about ethereal concepts, while the gameplay became more classic, taking influences from traditional escape room puzzles and adventure games. Still, we had a lot of systems from our years of molding the game. We had developed a lot of different systems related to cameras (including systems for rendering several cameras at once), systems for allowing text based commands, systems for layouting text based documents, most important of all, a system which allowed us to change a lot of rendering parameters on the fly. All of these different systems could interplay and interact with each other in interesting ways. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes had become a very iterative toy box, in which it was easy to add and remove parts, and make new and interesting gameplay moments by combining the systems in different ways. It allowed us to make a game in which programmers could be relatively hands-off in the creation of gameplay, and puzzles.

Ideas about each player having their own experience with the game started forming, so we decided that its progression should be open-ended and that puzzles should have random elements, and be scrambled for every playthrough. We liked the idea that even if a player would use a guide to solve a puzzle, they would still need to understand the idea behind the puzzle to solve it, instead of just resorting to input a predetermined answer. Structurally, the game was inspired by Metroid, The Legend of Zelda and Resident Evil—games where the player would unlock more and more of its world, and get a deeper understanding of it and connection to it, the more they played. We wanted the complexity of the game to completely revolve around this, and never around dexterity. We wanted this game to be playable by almost anyone, so we decided to only ever use one button along with directional inputs. It was an interesting and enjoyable challenge for us to distill down all of the interactions to this simple concept. To further make players feel more deeply connected to its world, we decided to sprinkle the game with lots of optional things such as mini games, stories and collectibles. A lot of these things would relate to other Simogo games, and as such Lorelei and the Laser Eyes became somewhat of a retrospective for ourselves, and in a lot of ways the DNA from Year Walk, DEVICE 6 and The Sailor’s Dream can be felt in the game.

Ultimately, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes became a collage of styles, ideas, and disparate inspirations. Like wandering in memories.

Images


From the very start, Lorelei and the Laser Eyes was planned to be black and white, with one contrasting ”laser” inspired, pinkish or red hue. Even though the game changed a lot during its development, a lot of the base elements remained the same throughout the project: toon shaded characters, low poly geometry with black and white photos projected on it, and wireframe style lines.

The intention was never to make the game look beautiful, but rather have it look like a collage of impressions, to give the feeling that you were wandering around in a broken computer world, full of memories. At first, we had hoped to license the black and white phototextures from various other works, such as L’Année dernière à Marienbad and the pre-rendered backgrounds from the Resident Evil remake, but it proved to be too complicated, and we ended up taking photos ourselves. We traveled to Kronovalls Slott, and were kindly given the keys to be able to freely walk around for a day and take any photos we wanted. We also took a lot of photos at Palladium in Malmö, which is where we held our release party for Sayonara Wild Hearts.

Sometimes, you are able to play other games within the game, and the art style changes to reflect this. There are times when the game shifts to look like a 1-bit adventure game or a PlayStation 1-style survival horror game. At other times, the player will read excerpts of books and other documents, and we spent a lot of time and effort on the font and document rendering.

Videos


Lorelei and the Laser Eyes was first revealed with a trailer in Nintendo Direct in 2022. The game changed a lot since then, and a lot of the gameplay found in that trailer has changed visually, and some elements have been completely revamped or removed.

The next time we showed the game in video form, was in Annapurna Interactive’s annual showcase. This time, we wanted to create a video that didn’t directly show any gameplay, but rather focused on the mystery and vibe of the game, with one long camera pan created in-game, with our cutscene editor. Christopher Sabat directed and produced the narration by Sean Henigan, and Emil Bengtsson helped us with the live action footage. We think this is one of the best trailers we have created.

The game was once again featured in Nintendo’s Indie World in 2024, in which we revealed its release date. We created the trailer for the American and European show. We wanted the trailer to emphasize how much variety there is in the game. We also wanted to show that the game was translated into several different languages, which meant we had to create a lot of versions of this trailer. It was quite the task, as we needed to capture all the in-game footage with text in their respective languages. Nintendo created the trailer used in the Japanese version of Indie World.

May 23 2024 we released “Through The Laser Eyes”, a 9-minute video by Emil Bengtsson, in which the team contemplated and reflected on the project and the final product.

Music & Audio


Music always plays a big part in our games. Because of Lorelei and the Laser Eyes’ open structure, we didn’t quite know how we would incorporate music. We quickly realised that having traditional music constantly playing in the big manor would be distracting when solving puzzles, and so we came up with the idea of adding physical record players throughout the house, which would also help players navigate. When the records are off, it might seem like the game is almost quiet, but there are almost always “subtracks” playing. These are very ambient versions of each song, which are always perfectly matched to the songs playing on the phonographs. We didn’t want these to sound like actual music, but rather as if the house itself had a constant ghastly draft, that would always be in tune with the music.

We wanted the music in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes to be a little more complex and contemplative than Sayonara Wild Hearts. On the first playlist created, we had songs such as Life Round Here by James Blake, Saint Claude by Christine and the Queens and The Wheel by SOHN. Quite early on, maybe even before production had really started, the two songs “Laser Eyes” and “Radio Waves”, were written by Jonathan Eng. Jonathan would much later into the production write a couple of guitar based songs, as well as adding guitar tracks on several of Daniel Olsén’s songs.

The direction started to shift from pop music, it was decided early on that piano should have a central role and we often referenced Debussy and Satie. Daniel, who composed and arranged the majority of the music, started writing instrumental tracks in this direction. Linnea Olsson, who had previously provided vocals on Sayonara Wild Hearts, joined Daniel to compose this time, and also added cello and vocal arrangement to some of Daniel’s tracks.

The soundtrack to Lorelei and the Laser Eyes by Daniel Olsén, Linnea Olsson and Jonathan Eng will be available in most places where you stream or buy music.

Game Credits


Art, sound, music & design direction, Level art & design, Story, Project management
Simon Flesser

Technical direction, Programming, Project management
Magnus “Gordon” Gardebäck

Programming
Magnus Jensen

Animation, Character and environment modelling, Tech art
Carl Karjalainen

2D art, Logo design, Project management
Åsa Wallander

Music, Sound design, Additional design & art
Daniel Olsén

Music, Vocals
Linnea Olsson

Music
Jonathan Eng

Story
Jonas Tarestad

Additional programming
Martin Rolén

Photographs taken on location at
Kronovalls Slott
Palladium Malmö

Made with the support of
Annapurna Interactive

Quality Assurance
HUWIZ QA/UX

Translation
EDS Wordland Ltd
Kakehashi Games
BADA GAMES
Keywords Studios

Reviews & Press


Age Ratings


ESRB content descriptors:
Mild Violence
Blood
Language
Alcohol Reference