With nothing but a trailer in the wild, ExeKiller has managed to impress many unsuspecting gamers eager for a futuristic Western FPS, thanks to its heavy atmosphere, open world, and promising gameplay. Developer Paradark Studio was pleased to see the enthusiastic response online, although expectations need to be readjusted slightly. We caught up with Paradark Studio co-founders Kasia Widmańska and Amadeusz Wróbel to talk about ExeKiller and what fans can expect from their ambitious debut outing.
The Escapist: Tell us about Paradark Studio and why it trusts ExeKiller like his first game.
Kasia Widmańska & Amadeusz Wróbel: We are Kasia and Amadeusz, owners and founders of Paradark Studio. We love challenges and we love to play games! One day a few years ago we thought, “Why don’t we try to make our own game? At first it was our ‘after-hours job’ just for fun, but last year we decided to make it official. Currently, we are also working on our first film.
I saw that there were currently four people working on the game. Is there a desire to expand the team?
Widmańska & Wróbel: Sure! And we are working on it and I hope that in the near future with the support of the publisher we can make it even bigger.
What previous experience does the Paradark team bring to ExeKiller?
Widmańska & Wróbel: First and foremost, in our games we want to tell good stories. We’re both visual creators (we bring our experience to things like photography, graphic design, and filmmaking.) So it’s very important to us that the game is at its best. It’s not about the best designs and the sharpest textures. It’s about creating the right mood and the right atmosphere. About creating the world, you want to come back to it and explore it, but also have fun at the same time.
There were a lot of references to classic movies in ExeKillerthe first trailer for. What are some other ways this game is designed for fans of the western and sci-fi genres?
Widmańska & Wróbel: Yes, as we said before we are also filmmakers and we love cinema, especially classical cinema but also arthouse. We like to play with genre conventions, mix them up, mix to create something new, so it just felt natural to bring that here as well. For fans of the western or sci-fi … the setting, the background story, the main character’s work, some of the quests, gadgets, weapons, etc. (will be attractive).
Can you tell us more about how properties like Publication date, Blade runner, and Red Dead Redemption helped inspire ExeKillerDevelopment ? How did these titles specifically impact the gameplay?
Widmańska & Wróbel: We are big fans of Publication date, Dead red, and also both Blade runner movies and also Deus Ex. We spent many hours watching the movie and playing these games having fun, but also a lot of aesthetic or emotional experiences. To quote more inspirations, we are also fans of cyberpunk literature like Philip K. Dick and William Gibson. All of this had a huge impact on us, so it’s hard to pinpoint the exact mechanics or game systems.
Can you explain ExeKillerthe core gameplay loop of?
Widmańska & Wróbel: You get the commission and the information where the fugitive was last seen. You go there and look for leads, look for clues, question witnesses, talk to people, bribe someone or lie to someone. If you can finally find the fugitive, it’s up to you to decide what to do. You can go looking for it with a gun or sneak past your enemies. Why not the two of them? After you catch him, you can do whatever you want: free him, kill him, or put him in jail.
How can players influence the narrative? I’m interested to hear how unique each player’s story can be.
Widmańska & Wróbel: There will be key moments in the game that impact the plot. Your decisions will affect some of the missions. This is why you will not be able to see all the quests in one game. Likewise, each end will be the result of all the decisions that have been made throughout the game. There will be no final decision five minutes before the end.
I saw that ExeKiller will feature a small open world with a main quest and “some side quests”. Can you give us a more detailed idea of what to expect in terms of reach?
Widmańska & Wróbel: The world of the exekiller will be large enough to feel distance and scale, traveling in your vehicle. We want the player to sometimes feel lost, alone, unimportant. Exploration is very important to us; the places we meet on our way will be small but full of detail, telling their own story.
One of the coolest features I’ve seen is ExeKiller“Constantly changing environment”. Can you tell us more about the role of the environment in the gameplay?
Widmańska & Wróbel: First of all, we have electromagnetic storms and radioactive solar storms that are deadly threats to us. When one of them comes our way, we need to find a safe place as quickly as possible. It can be a city, a cave, a canyon, an abandoned building, anything that will give us a minimum of protection. In addition, the temperature will play an important role in exploring the world; there will be regions on the map so hot that access will only be possible at night.
Can you tell us a little more about the weapons, gadgets and abilities that we will have at our disposal? How futuristic are these weapons and abilities?
Widmańska & Wróbel: For example, there will be a dash that we showed in the trailer. There will also be bullet time, the ability to see through walls, and more. We want every style of play to be appealing. That’s why some of the abilities and gadgets will help you fight and some will help you sneak and hack.
(As to what to expect from a vehicle fight,) Mad Max Avalanche Studios is a good example.
Will ExeKiller include music to listen to while exploring its open world?
Widmańska & Wróbel: It would be great to travel through the post-apocalyptic world of ExeKiller listening to Johnny Cash, but it’s a bit beyond our reach. We will surely have an excellent soundtrack to accompany us; a sample of it is already in our trailer. You can also expect a lot of dialogue in the car.
Is there anything else you would like to add about ExeKiller, Paradark Studio or independent game development?
Widmańska & Wróbel: We would like to calm the enthusiasm of some people, especially those who compare us to Cyberpunk 2077. We are creating an ambitious game, but we are nowhere near the scale, funding and momentum of CDPR. We are a small team aware of our limits; that’s why we are creating something that we can handle. Also, our game has nothing to do with this cyberpunk game, more with the genre itself. We make futuristic retro western with cyber elements.
ExeKiller is in development for PC via To smoke and GOG, and “if all goes well”, that will also come to consoles.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.