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Marrow: 2D, Horror Themed Action-Adventure

  • Hey Construct Community! I'm Finally ready to show my game! huzah!

    Marrow is a 2D, horror themed, action-adventure game emphasising challenge, puzzles, platforming, combat and navigation. Leap, crawl, slash and blast your way through the cavernous bowels of a menacing mountain in a quest to find your lost friends who now cry out for help, shrouded by the thick, living dark of the nameless peak's innards. A rotted town, crypt and Manor are merely the membrane which cover the deeper, undulating terrors left to decay countless years ago beneath the mud and rock.

    Marrow's setting is a burial site, made with purpose to mask the devices and cosmic crimes of those who occupied the hill's once flat terrain, now broken and mangled within the mountain's insides.

    Echoing within the hollows are the screeches and bellows of this realm's old inhabitants, shades and abominations seeking to forget the noxious truths and presences they uncovered with their unbridled experiments, attacking those who disrupt their shallow grave and mingling with the spirits of those seeking redemption, who are keen to guide you. You who might contain the grit and steely mind to face the mountain's darkest, imprisoned Secret and free them all from their sins.

    Marrow will test your wits and reflexes, forcing you to face off against dozens of enemy types, either through avoidance or confrontation using the small number of still usable blades and relics left inside the mountain.

    Search and explore every dark corner of Marrow's setting to increase your Grit (vitality) and Clarity (magic). Grasp new skills like Pyro-burst and Grit Regain. Use the last Luminous Orb to create tones, defend against enemy attacks and solve riddles. Enter the Fissures to uncover the Echo Realm, pull back the veil of reality and explore the world with a different perspective, but be mindful of the new dangers which dwell at the edge of normal perception. Light torches and braziers to illuminate your way, blast from spot to spot using the Orbital Anchors, and much more!

    Look and Listen. The orphans are lost within the mountain, but when nearby you can hear them chanting a familiar song, one shared between you and your friends. Follow the withering melody and send the lost children back to the mountains top, to the house on the hill.

    Features

    -A subterranean world to explore and survive made up of many unique, handcrafted areas, Not random, Not procedural

    -Dozens of ghastly ghosts, shades and otherworldly monsters, with their own quirks and weaknesses to contend with

    -Numerous Bosses, some optional, stand between you and the Secret of the mountain

    -Light your way, uncover the glistening Medallions of the deep to better illuminate the path ahead, ignore these crucial items at your own peril, without them you may find yourself nearly blind in the depths

    -An ending hidden behind more than just the final boss, save your friends or suffer a fate worse than even those you left behind

    -A persistent world, enemies beaten will remain beaten until a Save Point is activated, reanimating your once defeated foes (Bosses not included). Do you go back to heal but once again face the enemies, or stay the course and face the unknown ahead?

    -SEND ME BACK, found an item but low on health, warp back to the last save room, but beware, if you attempt this rite after the Bell has rung it may prove fatal, robbing you of your progress

    -Post Game Modes, Finish the game once (under any condition) to unlock Echo Mode and Survival Mode

    -Survival Mode, face the challenge of finishing the game with a set number of lives, after your last one, the game will reset and save, forcing you to start over from scratch, Oh No! Don't worry about your friends though, they are safe but have left you dolls of themselves in the places they were hiding before, which now act as an Extra Life in survival mode! The goal is simple, beat the final boss as fast as you can and brag about your best time

    -Echo Mode, view the entire game as if you are in the Echo Realm

    -Mix and Match your modes! Want to play Survival Mode and Echo Mode simultaneously, you can! No judgements, you do you!

    FAQs

    So is this an RPG?

    No, Marrow is an action adventure game, there is no loot (not even health or magic drops), no deep stats or skill trees, no levelling up or crafting or grinding. It more closely resembles the paradigm of a Zelda or Metroid series.

    Where's the HUD?

    The HUD is a consumable, once activated the HUD will appear very briefly and display your Grit and Clarity then disappear. It can only be activated a certain number of times (refills at save point) but the allotment grows as you rescue more Orphans.

    So is this game have a lot of Story telling?

    Not at all, in fact quite the opposite. The game is completely bereft of any exposition, cutscenes or dialogue. There are NO journals or diaries to read or NPCs to listen to. Everything is environmental. The game has context, but the context is the game. At virtually no point are you not actively in control of the game.

    Is Marrow Linear?

    Marrow consists of a large explorable world moving towards an inevitable end point, however there is almost nothing in the way of explanation or guidance for the player. You choose where to go, you may find obstacles, but might also find a clear path, however the first clear path you find might not be the wisest choice, if you rush in headfirst before exploring other places you might find your self in a place you are unprepared for (and difficult to escape from).

    Can I beat the final Boss without learning all the skills or finding everything?

    Yes! In fact it is possible to beat the final boss without finding much of anything, only the first weapon and Medallion are forced on you. Good luck with just those two things though, it's gonna hurt. Also, as mentioned before, the "real" ending is locked behind finding each Orphan, a task which requires most if not all skills.

    When's it coming out?

    Soon, Halloween hopefully.

    No but seriously, what is Marrow?

    Marrow is a reddish-black substance which materializes in places where the space between realities and perception have been bent or broken. It has mutagenic properties causing horrific and irreversible damage or transformation. Contact can lead to such things as gigantism, while ingestion may lead to such things as liquefaction (not always fatal). It is best avoided even in diluted forms.

    Trailer

    Environments Trailer

    Facebook

    Also, Marrow is currently up on Steam Greenlight, please support it

    Thank you for reading. I've been working on this game a long time and will be in need of testers soon. Feel free to ask questions.

  • Amazing. Pretty solid mechanics and looks soooooo damn flawless

  • That sprite work is amazing. Can't wait to play it!

  • I love the monster design, very creepy!

    Where did you get your inspiration from? Which program did you use for animation?

  • so cool, love the game engine

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  • Looks amazing!

  • Great backgrounds & sound FXs! Love the spooky atmosphere!

  • Thanks for all the kind words guys, I've been working on this thing for a while so it's nice to have people respond so positively to it. I put it up on greenlight and got greenlit in just a little over a week!

    I guess I'll use this thread to post my ongoing devlog for those who are interested.

    CreativeMind - Beats the heck out of me where I get my inspiration, it's all just a mishmash of a bunch of different influences. I used Graphics Gale to make the sprites and animations and Gimp for tiles and backgrounds.

    Devlog

    This Devlog will look back a bit and describe some of the process and inspiration that lead to the project's creation. I will be posting soundtrack clips as I work on and finish them and be posting profiles on certain enemy types.

    I will also be sharing some fun tidbits like early sketches of the game's maps, early hand drawn sketches of enemies and even the proof of concept which was made nearly 4 years ago and is what convinced me, or perhaps deluded me into believing, "hey, I can make a video game!" Looking back on it recently I can't believe it convinced me of anything.

    For this first entry I want to talk about origins of Marrow, the world it takes place in and give a general overview.

    The house on the Mountain and the crime that was buried

    The initial idea behind Marrow was to make a fairly straight forward, and honestly kind of predictable Metroid-like using a low-fi, pixel art-style. The project grew and became more ambitious both in design and visual fidelity. The current game is made in the Construct 2 engine, but at first it was being built in the original Construct. The change from a more low-fi style to something bigger and more detailed was actually done in part because of my desire to make the main character's facial expressions readable.

    So readable

    I wanted a mouth, eyes and nose visible. In retrospect I can't really explain why this was, possibly because of my love of Toon Link and a number of different Mega-Man sprites.

    The initial sprite (not the one currently used) for Daniel (the Hero) was a rather poor attempt to match Mega Man's sprite in the SNES Mega Man X trilogy.

    The novel concept I kept coming back to for the central focus of the game was the interplay between light and dark (literally, not metaphorically). I knew I wanted to have a dark world illuminated at specific points and centre how Daniel would navigate through the world around the light source he was carrying, relying on it to not only cut through the dark but also to reveal otherwise invisible elements in the world.

    Finding the first Medallion

    In the final game this idea manifests with Daniel collecting hidden medallions which give off light and whose light grows with each collected with different areas of the game making the player nearly blind (or at least at a big disadvantage) if they don't have a strong enough medallion. Other scenarios also worked their way into the game, such as lighting torches (temporarily) to illuminate invisible platforms or the use of the Luminous Orb to play a note and briefly reveal a hidden enemy.

    As stated in the marketing spiel, Marrow has no exposition, or dialogue, or cutscenes. That doesn't however mean it lacks context, or story in a very unconventional use of the term.

    The world was built with a purpose, and with context in mind. It is not random and a careful eye might pick out details that might suggest certain elements of story (or lore as the kids say these days) without outright saying them. Honestly this comes from a desire to read the kinds of speculation and interpretations people come up with after finishing the game.

    Preview of Echo Mode

    So the story exists, but there is something exciting about seeing how others interpret things when you give them a small slice instead of explaining things to them. This is something I'm quite passionate about. The game also features simple things like title cards for areas and a credit sequence which gives the names of each enemy and boss, giving hints of lore.

    In a future post I may extrapolate on the origins of how Dan and the other orphans came to be in the old house on the mountain.

    Onto enemies

    "...and watched silently as the briny smell began to spread like a warm mist, choking and stinging her eyes, but they remained open, unblinking at the sight of the source of the smell and the now very audible, otherworldly, chuntering sound. It was amorphous at times, and when fully visible its shape was senseless to her; sensible to us only in microbial form. It would evaporate and reform instantly, but never in the same space, like it was moving but it's movements were unseen. Soon she could glimpse the actual moment when the creature would travel, and it acted as if inhibited by no external force, not air, water or even gravity. It moved aimlessly at first, blinking in and out of sight, simultaneously straddling the poles of a perceptive sphere with only one visible to the human, or rather, living eye."

    Stillborn, along with many other creatures inside Marrow's haunted mountain reflect one of the goals of this project. Namely to make a horror themed game that doesn't rely on the obvious "go-to" enemies that permeate the genre. The biggest offender tends to be the "Halloween decoration" subset of enemies. Rats, bats, spiders, crows, and of course, my personal favourite, the skele-man.

    A swarm of Stillborn

    The Mountain has many undead (it is a haunted, burial site after all) but each comes in many different grotesque shapes, sizes and deformities. Non fall strictly into a uniform "zombie" type. Along with the hordes of deceased come a number of more alien creatures (like Stillborn) to keep them company. As you journey down the Mountain's innards the more ethereal beings become more frequent. There will even be creatures which bare traits from both undead and alien archetypes.

    The game's initial enemy concepts featured a number of fairly overused creatures, including a large bat and even a feral vampire. both were scrapped as they were too inline with the "Halloween decoration" pitfall and they didn't make sense inside Marrow's universe.

    Stillborn is a mystery for the most part. They reveal themselves early on and permeate the entire game. Their skin is acidic but whether or not they actually intend to do harm to Dan is unknown, and unknowable. They are alien in that they don't originate on our perceptive plane, though that doesn't necessarily mean they are from outer space.

    Stillborn have a couple of different behaviours in game, the most common is when they appear out of thin air and begin moving toward Dan, but as if blind, they can't quite aim themselves correctly. After a short time however they will zero in on Dan and move toward him aggressively. They can be fairly easily beaten back but unlike other enemies which have a tendency to stay dead until a save point is activated, Stillborn will continue appearing until engaged or fled from.

    Please take the time to listen to a song from Marrow's OST

    Up next

    Baptized

  • Marrow Devlog #3

    "The surface was solid but suspect, not unlike ice near the end of winter, with the familiar crunch and crackle of the pieces jutting out of the ground. Odd reflective pools of muddy liquid dotted the area, pools which moved and writhed and sloshed unnaturally in the damp cave. Peering into the puddles for too long might give the vague suggestion of an almost human form slurping and tossing inside the sludge. Soon after one might see the bright pinpoints denoting eyes, and a face wrought in agony."

    The Baptized are a humanoid, swarming enemy and like certain forms of the Stillborn they cannot be permanently defeated, merely knocked back down into the muck from whence they came. Once knocked back they will re-spawn elsewhere within their pool and re-emerge once more if approached.

    They only appear inside large pools of dried Marrow. It is solid enough for Dan to walk across, and distinct enough to be recognised as a place that will harbour these goopy, undead beings. They have no real nuance to their behaviour; once they have line of sight to Dan they will come after him until beaten back or until they hit something.

    The inhabitants of the dried Marrow come in two forms, the larger of the two is no faster than its smaller counterparts but is more deadly and has a much bigger pool of health.

    Fire is effective but watch your clarity.

    With the right weapon the Baptized drop in one hit, however having a weak weapon could mean dealing with a group of surrounding Baptized which may take three or even four shots to put down, a potentially deadly mix.

    The Marrow-men of the deep regions of the Mountain represent some of the gruesome and twisted ways in which Marrow can effect an organism (living or dead).

    The Baptized were likely the victims of internal Marrow poisoning, either during the course of an experiment or in a misguided step along some blasphemous ritual, these people ingested Marrow and were eaten and transmogrified by the substance, changing them into an almost completely liquid state.

    Their new forms were not fatal at first. These poor souls likely lived a long, natural life as a pool of muck, contemplating their own choices and existence as the horrors they had become, before succumbing to death. Now even some of those still wander, undead, inside the halls of the Mountain.

    Morrow OST - Pathways

    Up next

    Growth

  • Subject's deformities are growing at an alarming rate. All facial features appear to have been swallowed up inside a mass of crusty flesh and fragments of growing bone are protruding out the subjects body. The mixture in the tonic was meant to dilute the effects of the substance, however they seem to be as horrific as before, different, but horrific nonetheless. I suspect soon the other subjects exposed to the tonic will swell as this one has and the labs in the house will be put at risk should the subjects size expand to the point of ...explosion. I will recommend the subjects be moved to the lower caverns where they will pose no danger.

    Growth is a deformed human whose exposure to some form of Marrow has swelled their body up to the point of being so volatile that a single hard smack could cause them to explode and spill out the noxious gasses and fluids of their innards.

    They quickly seek out any noise they hear in an attempt to destroy themselves at the hands of whatever creature has wondered into the spot they dwell, presumably to end the pain of existing as the hideous and bulbous creatures they've become.

    The explosion which ignites from contacting the Growth is large enough that striking the enemy with one of the shorter weapons in the game will still leave the player in range of the blast and cause damage. A well timed fireball will stop them dead in their tracks but their quickness means any hesitation will be long enough for the Growth to get close; listening to the sounds of one approaching is key to reacting in time.

    The Damage the Growth does is considerable, some of the highest in the game, but don't fret, along with the usual health and weapon upgrades Marrow's world also contains two earrings which cut the damage done by enemies greatly. Finding these are no straightforward deed however, unlike fairly common health upgrades you won't simply stumble upon them.

    The odd statue of the basement in the Stuland Manor hides a secret

    Other key items, like weapons and medallions are also tricky items to find, some requiring a careful memory of the many environments in the game and an observant eye of the subtle clues that will come your way.

    Marrow OST - Decayed Madness

    Up next

    Gloom

  • Looks amazing and disturbing: I love this atmosphere.

  • Gah, can't get over the monster design, it's amazing! I really love the atmosphere in this game. Great work so far

  • "...it was as if a fleshy maelstrom had passed through the region. Gone were the rocks, the trees, the grass, replaced with this hulking mass of veins and polyps, even bones. The tower, once a prison for those inflicted with the red sickness, was crumpled, kept up only by the entanglements of the cancerous growths surrounding it. The members of the envoy attempted to ignore the horrific implications the shapes and smells of the malignance would suggest, that this maze of fleshy caves bore a haunting resemblance to the internals of the human body, but soon they were overwhelmed with terror and began to flee, no longer concerned with confronting the lost Seer. Members of the envoy would later speak of catching glimpses of senseless forms inside the caves. Large masses of grey bulbs, half visible, floating perfectly still, suspended by nothing, with the grotesque suggestion of a face staring back at them."

    The Gloom inhabits an area in the world of Marrow quite different from the earlier portions of the game. For one, it is an entirely optional, though very important if one is looking to see the real ending to the game. It is also an area mostly bereft of more common, defeatable enemies. Instead Malignance is an area mostly about avoidance.

    The Gloom are harmless in their initial state, but once you cross paths with one of their "dreams" The whole of the region begins to pulsate and the creatures will be on you very quickly. The Gloom are one of the hardest hitting enemies in the game, dealing some of the highest amount of damage, things can go south very fast.

    Inert Gloom

    Emissary

    The Gloom heed to no obstacles and can pass right through walls. They can't be harmed, pushed away or beaten, however, they can be rendered inert. Leaving the immediate area will reset them, but if an exit isn't nearby, search for the Emissary, an alien like creature who helps you enter the area. The Emissary will appear in certain spots around the room once the Gloom have been activated. Once found the Emissary will put the Gloom back to sleep and reset the area.

    The Gloom only appear in Malignance, they are tailored for that area. Each new area in the game is designed to throw new things at you; enemies, mechanics, systems, puzzles. instead of a set of simple and organized routines. The simple formula of -->Area-->Temple-->Boss--> Repeat Ect. or variations of the sort seen in many other games is done away with in pursuit of making every new area a new experience which resets the players knowledge.

    Marrow OST - Lurking Echoes

    Up next, Boss Profile

    Patriarch

  • "Accursed, detestable Frederic! Fierce, brilliant Frederic. What would they say of me now? Mournful Frederic? Poor Frederic? Dead Frederic. Tucked motionless and alone inside this chamber, the walls adorned with the faceless cousins and brothers and sisters whose names I can't be bothered to recall. I can feel my life slipping, I can see my body; broken, crusty, disfigured. This death feels like a birth, the fading memories give way to wondrous truths, horrible truths. Even in death the search for the great truths eludes me. Truth is all we have, the pursuit of it, the most noble of deeds. I sought truth, lifted the rocks others were fearful to, and revealed the scope of our ignorance. I plunged the dagger into the very earth and fed on its blood. Let the Stuland name be forgotten, let all my kin be buried here with me, their Patriarch, and let this foul truth remain elusive to all the poor souls above. Curse the truth!"

    The Stuland Patriarch is the very first boss in the game. A man who sold both his life and sanity to study and experiment with the substance flowing beneath his Manor, Marrow, as he and his kin would come to call it.

    The Patriarch is a spectral entity, a spirit. His actual body can be found inside the Master bedroom of the Manor, a long room at the far side of the house which contains a group of invisible monsters as well as one of the fireplaces. The Patriarch can be heard speaking to the player in other rooms inside the Manor and even attempts to attack you after you have claimed the rapier using his spike-like limbs which stab out from the floor and ceiling, assuming the boss is still alive.

    The Boss himself has various attacks, and like a few of the bosses in the game he has a 2nd tier. The most noticeable change is that he transmogrifies into an even more misshapen, less human version of his previous form.

    The Patriarch's attacks include a quartet of limb like blades which line each of the walls, ceiling and floor of the room which will randomly stab outward with the only signal to the player being a short burst of dust from the spot the blades come out of. The Boss can also scream and cause all blades to shoot out at once.

    The boss can only be afflicted with damage while his third eye is visible, his eye is also the source of his most deadly attack, a ball of energy which shoots out from the eye, and will bounce off the walls. The attack is relatively slow during the Patriarch's first form but speeds up greatly in the second phase. The attack can be stopped if struck with a weapon, however careful timing is required because the energy will linger for a split second and can damage you even after it is struck. In addition, the Patriarch can also shake the room and cause debris to fall from the ceiling.

    Getting to the Boss from the beginning of the Manor is relatively straight forward and doesn't require you to explore much of the rest of the Manor at all, however a rather deadly energy field stands between the player and the Boss room. There is a way to destroy the field, however it is possible, depending on your current maximum health, to force your way through the field and fight the Boss with the field still active, though you'll need to beat the Boss without taking any damage in order to survive because the energy field does hefty damage to the player, and the trek to find a save point after the fight will be arduous.

    Marrow OST - Ascension

    Up next

    Witness

  • "The most peculiar of the delegation, the Octave, shrouded in hooded cloaks, skulking about in a crudely inhuman manner, adorned with masks depicting some vaguely lizardly face. Terrifying creatures, easily mistaken for the otherworldly things beneath the Manor, but still normal enough to remind the eye of their human past. They will frighten the children, the women, but it is worth it, to have audience with this most magnificent guest. The Octave, these witnesses of the deeper truths. Beneath the cloaks and masks I've glanced the most gaudy and pitiful of forms, yellow, skeletal things; armless, with a plunging endless hole where instead should be a face."

    The Witness is one of the more common enemies in the game, though it only appears in a couple of areas. It is an emaciated human form, without arms, with pikes instead of legs, and a faceless head. Its Idle movements are erratic but the Witness only has one way to move, and that's leaping. Presumably it can't walk due to the bizarre shape of its legs, its arms likely removed to prevent it from falling over.

    Like quite a few enemies in Marrow the Witness can only be damaged by attacking a specific spot on its body. Striking or shooting the legs or head won't do anything, instead the Witness must be bisected by hitting it in the abdomen.

    Another wildcard factor with a number of enemies in the game, including the Witness, is their behaviour. Some of the Witness enemies will act differently than others. Some will bounce randomly around a room, while others might lie dormant until you approach and than retreat backward until you are close enough for them to strike, leaping forward and catching you off balance. Variable health is also a trait shared among a number of enemies in the game.

    Certain types of enemies may buckle under a couple of hits but enemy health is individual based, not type based, so enemies of the same type both later on in the game and even mingling with their weaker kin may have an unexpectedly higher pool of health.

    Marrow OST - Back Through Shadows

    Up next

    Migrant

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