Among the various games on display at this week's THQ press event in San Francisco, one stood out with its distinctly nonhuman protagonists. That game is known as Deadly Creatures, an upcoming action adventure game on the Wii where players assume control of a scorpion and tarantula. We got to see what it's like to control a scorpion with the Wii's trademark motion controls while talking with a member of the development team about the game's surprisingly Pulp Fiction-like narrative.
The demo THQ showed had us crawling through various underground tunnels as a scorpion. Neither the scorpion we played as nor any of the enemies we encountered were the sort of cartoony, anthropomorphized bugs you might find in such movies as A Bug's Life or Antz; these are silent, realistic-looking insects you might see on a National Geographic program (if National Geographic began rendering its shows in Wii graphics).
Besides the look of the bugs, the combat also manages to reflect what you might see if you took a stroll through your backyard and spent some time watching insects. Deadly Creatures requires use of both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The left and right pincers are mapped to the Z and B triggers, respectively. You can lock on to enemies with the A button, block with C, and administer a stinger strike by swinging the Wii Remote forward. Various motions also enable special moves, such as spin attacks and lateral pincer strikes. One interesting part of the combat involves the targeting icons located above locked-on enemies; when their icon turns red, you press both triggers to engage a finishing move. A few God of War-like motion prompts appear on the screen, and, if you're successful, you'll see the other bugs killed off as their green insides splash onto the screen.
Throughout the course of the game, you'll unlock more moves. Some of these include the ability to dig, which helps when you notice cracks in the ground or wall that house health-restoring bugs. There is also the ability to sprint, which comes in handy during certain boss battles. The boss battle we encountered in our session had us using both of these techniques to scamper away from the giant lizard attacking us while finding the time to collapse the ground beneath us to escape to safety.
There are also a number of adventure elements that revolve around exploration of these vast underground tunnels. Just navigating these areas can get pretty tough, at least in our brief experience with the game. Much of this is because your perspective frequently shifts as you follow a path that begins on the ground, climbs up a wall, and clings to the ceiling. Much of the time you're following a root, but there are other navigational markers to be found along the way. Although we didn't get to try the tarantula, we're told that half of the game is generally more focused on camera-shifting wall-climbing, thanks to the tarantula's eight legs and its ability to crawl on most anything in sight.
With all this talk of fighting bugs and wandering through subterranean tunnels, you may find yourself wondering what sort of plot this type of game could possibly provide. We're told by one of the game designers that it's an interesting one, which unfolds in a multiple-perspective fashion like you might find in such movies as Pulp Fiction and Go. Unlike most games, the plot doesn't directly involve you as the player. Instead, it's what you overhear and see as a result of your exploration and encounters with mankind. In short, the game begins with a reporter standing in front of a gas station that has recently exploded. Of course, it's a mystery as to just how this has happened. After this early cutscene, you're transported one day back in time to witness the events responsible for this disaster. Most of this involves you making your way above ground to eavesdrop on the humans involved in this mess. True to your perspective as a tiny bug, you're only able to see legs and torsos but never the entire body of the humans.
What adds a twist to this style of narrative is the fact that the entire game is shown from two intertwining perspectives: the scorpion and the tarantula. Several events that you witness are shown again from the other bug's perspective so you can see what happens from another angle, perhaps allowing you to see certain characters in a different light. We're not sure if the sequencing jumps around quite as much as the chronologically schizophrenic Pulp Fiction, but the idea of sleuthing about in several viewpoints does sound interesting.
If the idea of engaging in creepy-crawly warfare with the Wii Remote while solving a whodunit without getting stepped on sounds appealing, you can look forward to Deadly Creatures when it's released toward the end of this year.