02: Gameplay: what, how and why? (1/2)

Hello there, agents! Welcome to the second post about Lethal Honor: Essence video game development!

In this second post, we will talk about gameplay. We will describe the general gameplay,  how it is played and why we chose it.

I have split this post into two different ones: the first one talking about the genre, and the second one resuming the general gameplay and a play session summary.

First: the Genre

The game is an action-adventure hack & slash roguelite.

Yeah, baby! There are a lot of words there! 🙂 Let’s break them down piece by piece:


Well… the word speaks for itself.

Dead cells is a game by Motion Twin. It is a fantastic game with a lot of similarities with Lethal Honor: Essence. Or, should we say, WE have a lot of similarities with them, though our game is being in the ‘cooking’ for 20 years 🙁

WHAT: It has a meaning both in gameplay and in the story narration: the game has a lot of combat, dangerous situations, difficult encounters and the story is told so the player is in constant tension.
HOW: Lethal Honor will revolve around the combat, so it IS an action game! We will be battling against dozens of enemies and bosses, dodging traps, getting new loot, solving puzzles and successfully face challenges.
WHY: Lethal Honor is an agency that INVESTIGATES paranormal entities and usually takes a non-aggressive approach, gathering clues, talking with the local folks and performing rituals to banish the creatures. In this game we will be playing as a new agent that only wants to survive while understanding what happened there and, if possible, end it to help other people. So this is an “action” game, but there is a LOT of focus on the story and plot, of course!


Zelda Breath Of the Wild: Nintendo. All rights reserved.

WHAT: It is a video game subgenre that focuses on player (and gameplay) incremental development: the game will be adding new gameplay mechanics in the form of items, new accesses, storylines… that opens up the world to new zones/puzzles/enemies that were previously locked and will be unfolded as the player progresses through the game.
HOW: In LH:E, the player will unlock new items that allow future runs to access new zones, create shortcuts or battle new exciting bosses. For example, a “level 3 access card” in the laboratory that opens high-security areas, with new enemies and loot. Or, for example, a rune that allows the player to use shrines to instantly teleport to new zones. Besides, the game will have 7 different playable characters that will unlock new combat styles, zones, bosses and gameplay elements. Even those characters are unlocked gradually!!
WHY: Adventure genre is incredibly satisfying to the player: not only they improve their personal skill in every run, but they are rewarded with new ways and paths that were previously blocked. This means seeing a locked door in several runs and wonder what is behind it, and two hours later, being able to open it and actually see it!! That is utterly rewarding. Also, it gives us a way of creating shortcuts to advanced zones and bosses. Besides, giving the player new combat styles (with each new character) step by step let them master the game little by little, instead of overwhelming them with all available content at the same time!

Hack & slash:

God of War is one of the best examples in the hack & slash genre: melee combat, a lot of different strategies and enemies to kill

WHAT: This is an action subgenre, that describes how the action is faced: real-time combat using melee weapons with a strategical approach.
HOW: In LH:E the combat will be slow and tactical, in contrast with those games with ultra-quick button smashing against tons of enemies.
LH:E will have a precise, tactical combat against few enemies at the same time, focusing on crowd control, defending, parrying and waiting for a window of opportunity to strike back and kill the enemies.
WHY: It is a genre that perfectly suits the agent combat style: they usually wield swords, axes and the like to kill enemies (because ranged weapons are not optimal to non-living creatures). The enemies (demons, zombies, …) are incredibly strong: a human wouldn’t stand a chance against even ONE of them. So the agent, which is WAY stronger and tougher, must master the defense, parry and deflect to survive. And they use special abilities to control the enemies (freeze, stop, snare)  to face them one by one.


WHAT: This is more a “set of gameplay mechanics” than a “genre” itself, at least within LH:E. In LH:E it should be called “roguelite”, which is a different genre, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll use the first.

Roguelite is a genre in which each game (usually called ‘run’) starts with a fresh new character, that involves advancing throughout different maps that are randomly generated (so each map layout is different from any other), and ends with the player dying (permadeath), thus ending the ‘run’ and starting all over. “Roguelike” means slightly different mechanics: turn-based combat, tile-based movement, simpler gameplay, …

HOW:  Lethal Honor: Essence is a roguelite game because in each run we will play as a new, fresh agent, called “Lost Agent”. He or she will have random abilities that synergize between them. He will progress through different zones killing enemies and bosses, looting items, watching events and unlocking new things (items, abilities, accesses…), and finally dying (or finishing the game).

WHY:  To be honest, we decided to go “roguelite” because it provides more hours of gameplay for less development time. We are only two persons working on the game, so we wanted the most efficient way of using our time. Lethal Honor is a VAST universe with a lot of different stories to tell. But telling a story is a huge work: script, character, story, events… it needs a lot of work, and we simply cannot develop such a game in our maximum time of development. So we chose this genre so we can still tell a complex, appealing story using Dark Souls fantastic style: through events, enemies, item description and world structure narration style. More of this on its dedicated post in the next few weeks!


So this is it for today’s post!! More of “gameplay” in the next one!

Then, we will start talking about the development process itself: game engine, general structure, design patterns, …

Stay tuned! And thanks for reading!


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