Speaking Young souls with the co-founder of the Studio
The last few years have been pretty nice to fans of the beat’em up genre, and the next two years, with announcements of river town girls 2 and TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge-seems to be just as strong. Of all the highly anticipated beat’em ups slated for release, however, Young souls perhaps the most unique. Blending traditional action with elements of RPG and dungeon exploration, the systems of Young souls are significantly more expensive than your typical brawler. And while the focus is on reducing waves of enemies, there’s also a surprisingly healthy story behind all of the fights that take place on-screen.
Goomba Stomp was fortunate enough to catch up with the co-creator of Young souls and developer 1P2P himself, Jérôme Fait, to discuss how the studio decided on a dungeon-based setting, what were the inspirations behind the styles of the twin protagonists, how the game was originally designed around co-op, and Moreover.
GS: First of all, congratulations on starting to get closer to the release of Young souls after all these years! To begin with, what inspired you to create a beat’em up? And what triggered the (refreshing) decision to do it dungeon-based?
Made : Thank you so much! Indeed, Young souls was a long time to achieve because we made the choice to mix genres, and it takes a long time to master. We started development in 2016, but started thinking about it even earlier than that.
At that time, unlike today, the beat’em up genre didn’t have many representatives. The most recent at the time was Dragon crown, and his approach to the genre inspired us a lot, especially in its structure (the principle of light hack and slash mix with beat’em up mechanics).
We were also drawn to the idea of both visual and functional customization. We wanted a system where the look as well as the gameplay of the characters would evolve over the course of the adventure, where both would be influenced by the tastes of the players and the adversity offered by the game. The style of the dungeon crawler fits well. to all our desires, so we went in this direction.
GS: Creative boss fights are usually a genre highlight. While the demo gave us a little taste, what kind of formidable enemies can our readers expect to face?
Made : Yes! We have spent a lot of time working on our patterns and we are very proud of them. In Young souls you will find a lot of it, much more than in a classic beat’em up formula. We have made a lot of efforts to vary the fights and always surprise the players.
To give you a few examples, you will come across classics such as giant trolls, legendary goblin knights in magnificent armor, summoner shamans … but also more unexpected enemies, such as a cyborg who practices martial arts, a wizard who can kill you d ‘one hit, a shapeshifter, and even a goblin granny in an exoskeleton. In total, more than 40 bosses and mid-bosses await you!
GS: Like the stars of Young souls, Jenn and Tristan are full of playfulness and it was an absolute pleasure to see back and forth in the demo we played. What inspired the twins’ personalities / writing?
Made : The idea of playing twins was driven by gameplay decisions (our desire to make cooperative play and a technical need to have characters physically close together), but from the moment we decided to make them siblings , we thought it was important to create a strong relationship between them. They have always been together through thick and thin, in part because of their kinship.
They are therefore best friends… but also brother and sister, so their relationship has all the special dynamics that this implies. They know each other perfectly and are both a bit rambunctious which creates some really funny jokes.
All credit goes to Matthew Ritter, who brought their relationship to life by writing witty and impactful dialogue.
GS: Being able to switch between twins on the fly is a good idea. Did this come as a by-product of Young souls first conceived as a cooperative game? What other hurdles did you have to overcome to accommodate single players, if any?
Made : Exactly that! We initially thought of the game as a cooperative game since we were both developing side by side in the same office. It was when we were separated by COVID and found ourselves testing the game for ourselves that we realized we needed to spend some time in the single player mode as well.
Initially, we wanted to set up an AI teammate. But after much testing, we rejected this idea. We found it frustrating not having control over the second character, so we figured out the trading mechanism.
We are very proud of this mechanic; this makes single player play very interesting, as it encourages you to think of the team as a duo instead of just favoring one of the two characters. As a result, the game didn’t have to undergo too many changes between co-op and single-player. There are a few areas where the monsters are more co-op and the enemies are more resilient, but you will be playing the same game and the experience is good in both modes.
GS: The personalization of characters is a major goal, whether it’s function or fashion. What kind of references did you consult to settle on the different styles of Jenn and Tristan?
Made : The idea of the personalization was to show the influence of the two worlds on the outfit of our characters. There are two distinct customization systems in the game; one cosmetic (the clothes of the twins) and the other functional (the combat equipment).
We thought it was fun to let teenage clothes appear under their riot gear, like children in disguise. Especially at the start of the game, it allows you to create completely disjointed looks in a natural way, which makes us laugh the most.
The more you progress in the game however, the more you will find enveloping armor, and in the end, your heroes will look like real fantasy warriors. We wanted to show the process of this transformation, and each hero’s rise to power through it. Comparing their crappy looks at the start of their quest with their shimmering armor at the end is really satisfying.
Xavier Houssin, the incredible character designer of the game, is the guy behind all these beautiful outfits.
GS: One of the most unique elements of Young souls is its global nature. What was the idea behind letting players experience this twist between reality and fantasy?
Made : I think this game is reminiscent of a dream we all had when we were kids – the call of adventure landing in our ordinary lives and leading us to become the heroes of a fantasy land. It is Harry potter, it’s Narnia, it’s Troll hunters – we didn’t have to look far to find inspiration! It’s a cliché in some ways, but it’s very evocative.
We wanted to keep the duality between the two worlds. Switching from one to the other as these two teenagers have simple, mundane social relationships in their ordinary little town, while in the next world, they are heroes on their way to overthrowing a government. We love this contrast.
GS: There are clear and strong themes of family and “family found” here. What lessons, if any, do you hope players take away?
Made : The theme of family has always been central in setting up the story, through the bond that unites the heroes and the quest that will take them to the depths of the goblin world.
The idea of the relationship between an adoptive father and his children was proposed by Matthew, and we found the concept compelling and refreshing.
You will find this theme throughout the game, even between the main antagonists who, you will discover, have close and conflicting relationships.
However, we would not necessarily claim that Young souls gives importance to its message. We know what our game is – above all, a fun brawler where we spend three quarters of the time fighting. But without worrying too much about the rationale, we’ve tried to develop a deeper story than what you would also find in your classic beat’em up.
Young Souls will launch on all platforms later this year. You can wish it on Steam here.