Sprawl co-creator Carlos Lizarraga aims to re-imagine the retrofuture

Game Rant chats with Carlos Lizarraga, the co-developer of a retro FPS called Sprawl, to discuss the history and continued evolution of cyberpunk.

Carlos Lizarraga has a great appreciation for old school cyberpunk. The title of his next retro-FPS shooter, sprawl, is a nod to the famous trilogy of books written by William Gibson and widely recognized for establishing the genre. While the popularity of cyberpunk has exploded with the release of big budget blockbusters like Cyberpunk 2077 and independent successes like Ascension, Lizarraga doesn’t just retread familiar visions of the future, imbued with chrome and neon.

Lizarraga spoke with Game Rant about the range and potential possibilities the genre represents, and how sprawl hope to expand these horizons. Even though the game itself is a tribute to a specific period – a retro first-person shooter inspired by the edgy and frantic titles of the late ’90s and early 2000s – he thinks sprawlThe sound and setting of ‘brings something authentically new to the table.


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The retrofuture reimagined

A good cyberpunk title doesn’t need to emulate Neuromancer or Blade runner succeed, according to Lizarraga. Even though he has been said to revere this source material and that his influences have laid a powerful and evocative foundation for future works in the genre, cyberpunk has maintained a relatively stable aesthetic for half a century.

“It’s been 50 years since the image of the retrofuture was painted. So where else can we get it? The neon color scheme doesn’t reflect what the future will look like. At least I don’t think so. . This is it is going to be darker. We are going to destroy the world. What will it look like? “

Originally written in the late 1980s, Gibson’s vision for the future, known as “high tech and low life,” was painted by speculative visions of what would become of the nascent Internet, informed by the strains of the Cold War and the heavily synthesized soundtracks from films around that time. Apart from a few notable additions, like Ghost in the shell and The matrix, the look and feel of the genre has largely remained a time capsule for this anachronistic vision of the future.

Lizarraga hopes to explore alternative perspectives on what a cyberpunk-inspired future might look like, taking inspiration from real-world locations such as the now demolished walled city of Kowloon and the streets of Hong Kong. Issues such as environmental collapse and more modern visions of the internet further illuminate the look and feel of this new cyber future. Lizarraga promises that what has been revealed about the game so far is just the tip of the iceberg. The title rolls off the rails in its final levels, presenting players with environments unlike anything they have encountered to date in a cyberpunk title.

A sound beyond the synthwave

No matter how important a game’s visual style is, graphics only define one dimension of its aesthetic. Lizarraga’s skills include playing and composing music in addition to designing and developing sprawl, and he hopes to use the title as a platform to introduce a new acoustic palette to the genre.

“It’s a mishmash of influences. And again, the reason comes down to this retrofuture image. The soundtrack of every cyberpunk game always sounds like 80s Perturbator or synthwave, and it’s like, ‘Why are we still stuck here?’ “

Lizarraga was quick to point out that he enjoys both the Synthwave and the Perturbator, but he wants to see (and hear) something new. Turning to the distinctions between Eastern and Western cyberpunk, it seems that the sound of sprawl will generously borrow film elements like Akira and Ghost in the shell – the latter being Lizarraga’s favorite cyberpunk medium. Again, he’s wary of the diversion and aims to create a soundscape like no player has yet encountered.

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These oriental influences are evident in the game’s trailers on Steam. They also tease essential elements of Lizarraga’s sonic vision for sprawlthe dystopian future of. Compared to Cyberpunk 2077, sprawl has more organic and human elements, including tribal chants and drums, with a blend of distortions and powerful electronic sounds to unify the tracks.

Forge a distinct identity

Finding a balance between homage and innovation is always a challenge, especially when creating period pieces or their variations. sprawlthe shooter and highly usable movement system of draw heavily from the early Source Engine titles of 2000; themselves a kind of time capsule, warped through the lens of modern game design ideas like the importance of vertical level design, and making every weapon in the arsenal count.

It will be interesting to see how sprawl fuses these influences from the past with Lizarraga’s forward-thinking hopes for the future of the cyberpunk genre.

sprawl is currently in development for PC. A release date has not yet been announced.

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