A Starless Sky is a singleplayer 2D open world exploratory mystery game, where the player has crashed their ship on a dark alien planet, and must navigate the interactive environment to find the three lost pieces of their ship and repair it successfully to escape. Along the way they will encounter hostile beings called the Unseen, who will do whatever it takes to stop the player.
The main story of the game involves finding the three missing pieces of the player’s crashed spaceship (entitled the Aeoniflyer) and then what happens afterwards; a fairly detailed narrative that intertwines the mystery of the planet and the player as they try to uncover it. They must track down the source of the signal that brought down their ship in the first place, and investigate a massive ancient vessel that contains the secrets of the Unseen. Throughout the narrative they will be pursued by a colossal horror that will stop at nothing to prevent the player escaping, and they must transverse the darkest and most dangerous areas of the planet in order to defeat it.
The full narrative of the game can be found here.
The main mechanic of A Starless Sky is the interactive environment; interacting with certain plants or trees can trigger their defense mechanisms, and can cause the environment around the player to change. They must choose their movements carefully, as touching or even getting close to certain trees and plants could set the world around them on fire, or flood it with water. Some elements of the interactive environment will help the player (one plant can grow a giant stalk that can help the player reach new heights) and some will hinder them (upon sighting them, another plant will trap the player and call nearby Unseen to it). These are present throughout the large planetary landscape, and the player must choose how they utilize them wisely.
In addition to this, the alien planet the player is on is in near-darkness. They must use the provided torch in order to see, although they can just about make out silhouettes around them without the light. There is also a day/night cycle, where the day is near-darkness and the night is pitch-blackness. The player can choose to brave the night or head back to their ship to sleep through it.
Throughout the game the player can encounter several alien creatures. The main creature and antagonist of the game are the Unseen; a semi-visible shadow monster that will kill the player on sight. Due to the darkness of the planet, it is very difficult to see them so the player will have to rely heavily on sound in order to detect the Unseen and other creatures and successfully avoid them. They can do this by hiding or running in the early game, and using special items later on. They can also encounter small passive creatures called Critters that sometimes follows them around, or larger passive creatures called Runners that move fast and can trample the player if they are not careful.
Exploration is also a core mechanic of A Starless Sky. In addition to the main story, the player can explore the open world. They can find ruins of old civilisations which contain certain special items, Mini Statue collectables and Lore Logs about the civilisation. They can also come across crashed starships that contain Lore Logs about the ships and other special items that the player can use to aid them in their travels. The special items can be used in a limited capacity to combat the Unseen, as well as track down mysterious signals and aid the player in transversing the treacherous planetary terrain and completing the story,
Some of the story based locations also contain Mini Statue collectables and Lore Logs, encouraging the player to return after the story and explore more.
The full list of interactive environment elements and other mechanics can be found here.
The UI of the game will be fairly simple, as the majority of the screen will be taken up by the environment around the player. The UI will consist of:
- A health bar.
- A toggle-able simple inventory bar – detailing which of the special items the player has and if applicable how long they have until recharged.
- A toggle-able ship interaction window, where the player can:
- See how many of the pieces they have found.
- Translate alien languages found in ruins/crashed ships.
- Track the time of day and current location.
The target audience of A Starless Sky will be people that play 2D platformer games, as well as those who enjoy open world exploration and mystery genres. The game will have a certain level of scariness to it (due to the dark setting and the shadow monsters) as well as a certain amount of challenge so the target audience will be those who are 13 and over. The ESRB rating will be Teen as the game contains some violence and suggestive themes.
Platforms (controller mapping)
The main platforms for the game will ideally be PC and PlayStation 4. The game controls are fairly simple so mapping them to both keyboard/mouse and controller should be fairly easy. For demonstration purposes the ideal key bindings are here: