Metroidvania's and ways to facilitate non-violence in one

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  • Hey all! I'm just brainstorming ideas here. I'd like to create a Metroidvania game (eventually) that gives players peaceful solutions to different problems. I'm having a bit of trouble creating interesting enemies, scenarios, items, etc that might facilitate this sort of gameplay though.

    In this game, the option for violence would still exist. I understand that a lot of the joy that comes from Metroidvania's are the exploration, character progression and using the items you've gathered against challenging opponents. I'd basically like to create the option for a pacifist run (like in Metal Gear Solid). I don't want every enemy to be "peacefully" taken down with fists or tranq darts though. I'm trying to add context to some specific situations. Maybe create narrative reasons to be non-violent, create narrative reasons why non-violent creatures are behaving violently, create weapons that stun or affect enemies without killing them, things along that nature.

    The setting would be a space station on an small desert planet (or an asteroid) inhabited by giant desert worms. An evil A.I. has taken control of the bases systems and robots. Here are some of the ideas I came up.

    -controls system that allows for quick movement and avoidance of enemies

    -items or weapons that only affect enemies in passive ways (electric gun incapacitates robot enemies safely, push, etc)

    -make some enemies only aggressive in certain contexts (maintenance robots have a virus that make them attack while politely and glitchy-ly asking the player not to kill them, other robots might relish the loss of control and attack violently)

    -some enemies are considered and called out as being "mindless" (turrets, lesser robots, automated vehicles, etc) so it won't add to your kill count or you shouldn't feel bad about destroying

    -emphasis on platforming -lots of obstacles - water, electric floors, electric walls, any others? please mention

    -emphasis on puzzles

    -emphasis on death animations - make them look and sound painful,sad, ugly as a way to discourage violence

    -some fauna might hide or run at the sight of the player to avoid death

    -some animals only become aggressive to protect their children

    -companion that comments on your slaughter of some of the planets dumb but aggressive wildlife

    -minigame "hacking" system that disables robots

    -pitch black sections with just a flashlight for variety from regular metroidvania-ing

    Anyway, I'd appreciate some help in brainstorming some ideas! I understand this is weird topic, almost at odds with each other really. That's why I'm having trouble coming up with more ideas. I don't want to make a game where you jump and dash over every single enemy. Thank you!

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  • Hi, your game sounds really interesing. I love metroidvanias and am making one myself. I think a good way to implement non violent options in games is to reward the player for using that approach. Eg perhaps when an enemy is stunned rather than killed they drop a valuable powerup, but if they are killed they explode and it is instead destroyed. You could also use it for dynamic changes in gameplay, eg if a robot enemy is stunned perhaps an electric field will appear around them, while the robot is incapacitated it can't chase you but now becomes dangerous in a different way as if you walk into it you'll get hurt so depending on what else is going onscreen it becomes a different kind of obstacle. You could set things up like a master switch that pacifies all robots in an area, but to get to it requires a puzzle or a very difficult platforming challenge to get to, so it gives the player a choice to either go in guns blazing, or go off on a difficult tangent for a while to get a more substantial reward. Some quick ideas for non lethal ways to handle enemies:

    stealth/invisibility (maybe with a time limit or other limitation, so that there is a constant challenge pattern)

    Using shadows to hide in for safety

    Freezing enemies (eg the freeze beam in Metroid)

    Taking control of enemies (eg like in Oddworld)

    Playing dead

    Getting them to fight amongst themselves

    You could check out some non metroidvania games where the protagonist is in a dangerous world but can't actually defend themselves for ideas on these kind of gameplay elements. Off the top of my head stuff like Limbo/Inside, Oddworld (the first 2 games) - I can't think of any more at the moment but there will be a bunch....

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