In the plethora of video games on the market, often the themes and concepts proposed are similar: sports, combat or war games. Aiming to stand out, a team of creators came together to tell a story that is both unique and universal; a quest to try to find oneself. A character lost in a dark labyrinth, who undertakes a journey to find her own fragments of light, while avoiding her dark parts. A game of light, shadows and introspection – crafted the way ones writes a poem. Welcome to the world of FRACTER.
Inside the game
The team behind FRACTER is obviously very enthusiastic about its creation. Like the entities we have to gather in the game, everyone brought their own touch of light to the project. Besides, Producer Martin Sal, Technical Supervisor Andrew Milner, Marketing Director Daniel Rattner, Creative Director Sanatan Suryavanshi, and President and Executive Producer Frank Falcone all had something to say about this production.
Somewhere between a spiritual journey, a puzzle and an interactive adventure game, FRACTER is 4L Games’s first project. 4L Games is a group derived from the entertainment company Guru Studio. Guru is best known for its 2D and 3D children's animated series, so it was necessary to create a new organization focused more on video games, as Sanatan Suryanvashi explains: "The intention was to explore a new medium using the incredible talent we have at Guru to tell a different story, on a different platform. So, we created 4L Games, a separate label that will explore this type of interactive games in the future. We wanted to create a first game that would be interesting, smart and thoughtful. From the beginning, we wanted to create something unique."
Creating the Fracter universe
Although 4L Games' mandate is different from that of Guru, the essence of both companies is the same, as Guru Studio President and Executive Producer of FRACTER reminds us: "The core values of the 4L Games studio derive from the same values as those of Guru Studio. According to an etymological theory, the Sanskrit word guru comes from the syllables gu and ru, which mean darkness and light that dispels it. One day, at work, I suggested a concept to the game team based on this idea: that of finding your way in the dark, a bit like we all do when we go into a dark basement to look for something."
It is from there that the creative team developed the story of a hero in search of her lost inner light. The black and white artwork has also been carefully designed to support this narrative. The visual of the game is quite soft, naive and touching. At the same time, the dark tones and the beautiful sound design plunge us into a frightening, claustrophobic and disturbing atmosphere. The artistic choices thus support the message, as the creative director points out: "It reminds us that there are two sides to everything, including ourselves. We love the idea of exploring this world where everything you fight and everything you go to is within you. You are watching yourself." The president agrees: "This game has a strong meditative look and challenges you to face the imaginary fears that hide in the dark sides of your mind."
Testing the game
Creating this kind of entertainment when there are few similar games to compare it with can be a big risk, especially when it’s a first project, says 4L Games Producer Martin Sal: "This is our first game as a team, but for some of us it’s our first game, period. When people are too specific to a medium, it can sometimes be limiting. It allowed us to see things in a new light about the elements needed to create a good game. We did not have a rule book. Our vision came from our different personal experiences. Andrew Milner, Technical Director, remembers the challenge it represented: "Initially, we had so many ideas; some good, some not so good. We had to dive to determine what would be the essential elements of the story, to focus on these elements by refining and essentially eliminating anything that could give the impression to dwell on other things. All that to achieve the vision of the world that we had. We worked to create a different project than most games available on the market."
The Fracter team
To achieve the production of a work corresponding to one’s vision is already a success, but whether the audience adheres to this universe remained to be seen. Daniel Rattner seems to be convinced: "The game was launched in July 2018, just a few months ago. We were all moved by the way the game has been received since the launch. We had good coverage, excellent reviews and great positioning in the Google Play Store and the App Store. Above all, many fans contacted us directly to tell us not only that they liked FRACTER, but also to tell us about their own vision of the story, since the game is open to interpretation. It’s an emotional advantage that is difficult to quantify, but it’s very touching to hear from the players." The creative director adds: "Indeed, during play testing, we were pleased to see some players interpret the character’s lost parts representing pieces of a broken heart, while others interpreted it as the loss of innocence. We had wanted enough breathing room for players to be able to make their own interpretations of what they had lost or been trying to find, and that seemed to resonate with the audience."
When asked what legacy he wants to share through FRACTER, Frank Falcone’s response, like the game, leaves us pensive: "At a time when the world seems to be falling into darkness, it is important to continue to hope that we can bring light back into our darkness, defying those demons who use empty fears to prevent us from moving forward..."