Dive into a whimsical medieval fantasy kingdom with Criminals Within, an upcoming indie game developed by Space Rock Games. Drawing inspiration from a myriad of sources you love and are familiar with, this third-person, two-player action-adventure promises to be a treat for co-op lovers and RPG enthusiasts alike.
Journey Through a World of Magic and Mystery
Criminals Within introduces you to Helena and Jarel, two unlikely companions forced together on a daring quest. Wrongfully branded as criminals, they navigate treacherous landscapes, from cursed jungles to mysterious caves, in search of the lost prince Felix, all while solving complex puzzles and battling formidable foes (like a freaking dragon!). Among the enchantments, you’ll will discover devolved dragons, remnants of an era when magic was at its peak. The interplay between these characters, the narrative, and the enchanting world brimming with humor and challenges promises a captivating experience.
As magic waned, these dragons transformed into enchanting, fairy-tale-like creatures, each brimming with its own unique charm. Among these enchanting beings lies the chance for one to accompany you on your journey. Interact, befriend, and even pet them as you traverse a land where magic’s echo still lingers.Steam
Helena, with her background as a royal guard, excels in close-quarters combat, allowing you to dominate the battlefield with powerful melee moves (that parry looks sick too). In contrast, Jarel, a roguish thief who distinctly reminds me of Autolycus from Hercules Legendary Journeys, offers ranged precision, giving you the chance to strike from a distance. As the duo ventures deeper into their quest, you’ll face epic boss battles demanding not just skill but also teamwork and strategy. Adding depth to the gameplay, cooperative puzzles are intricately designed, ensuring that Helena and Jarel’s unique strengths are utilized to their fullest (I’m thinking a lot like Trine and It Takes Two). It’s not just about combat; it’s about collaboration, where solo endeavors take a backseat to combined efforts.
A Melting Pot of Inspirations
The game is a beautiful blend of some of the industry’s best. Fable’s DNA, particularly from “Fable: The Lost Chapters,” is evident not only in the lore and mechanics but also in its unique, ageless art style. Combine this with inspirations from co-op marvels like “It Takes Two,” action-rich “Remnant: From the Ashes,” and the charm of DreamWorks movies, and you’ve got a game that promises both depth and delight. Seriously, the humor and charm of the animation is what turned me on to this project to begin with, just watch the trailer above to see what I’m talking about!
Here’s where it gets interesting, and while I didn’t expect it, it certainly shows in the game’s quality and approach to humor and animation. Space Rock Games boasts an impressive roster of talent and is comprised of veterans from Fable’s own Lionhead, SEGA, and Supermassive Games. Together, they bring an arsenal of experience to the table, so it’s no surprise this is already shaping up to be something special.
When developing the visual style showcased in the trailer, we explored various influences, both 2D and 3D. On the gaming front, we took inspiration from both the original Fable: The Lost Chapters and Sea of Thieves. Drawing from the world of movies, we examined the art style of Disney’s Hercules and envisioned how it would translate into a 3D environment. The end result is a fusion of these different inspirations.Interview with Game Rant
A Studio with a Heart and Vision
Beyond that though, Space Rock Games is a New Zealand-based studio that operates fully remote and believes in the physical and mental well-being of its staff. Their website highlights a no crunch work culture, and in today’s gaming landscape, you’ll know that’s more important than ever, especially as games – even indie games – become more involved and take more effort to make.
You can support them by wishlisting Criminals Within now using the widget at the top of this article. The team firmly believes in quality over speed. Per my conversation with them, they’ve made it clear they have no intention on rushing to market within the next few months. It’s better to release a good game in your own time than it is to release a bad one quickly, right? When it does launch though, it’s set to be nothing short of spectacular – a culmination of exquisite animation, unmatched humor, and the expertise of industry veterans. Let me know in the comments if you’re as excited for this as I am!