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BioShock Successor Judas Is A Procedurally Generated Roguelite

Ken Levine is ready to show the world that Judas is far more than just BioShock in space.


Bioshock creator Ken Levine's Judas has been in development for almost 10 years, and now his studio Ghost Story Games is finally ready to show what its been working on all that time. While Judas is still a narrative-driven FPS in the style of the BioShock games, it's also a procedurally generated roguelite set in a dynamically-shifting open world. Here's what we know so far.

Judas is fundamentally built around a concept Ken Levine calls "narrative Legos," which he has been refining since his GDC talk by the same name all the way back in 2014. The concept mixes procedural generation with bespoke building blocks of narrative or dialogue, creating a game that can react to a player's decisions in a way that feels natural.

"We call it pseudo-procedural because it's not like Minecraft where everything's being generated off a set of pure mathematical heuristics," Levine explained in an interview with IGN. "You build all these smaller piece elements in the game and then you teach the game how to make good levels essentially, and good story, and most importantly, reactive to what you do."

One of the most obvious ways this comes across in Judas is through the player's interactions with the game's three main NPCs--the ship's former leaders Tom, Nefertiti, and Hope. The characters appear to Judas as holograms, and she can build relationships with them, or end up on their bad side--often angering the other two if she does a favor for one.

With their relationships always dynamically changing, so too will these characters' interactions with Judas--if she's annoyed them, they might reveal her location to enemies or stop her from accessing an important resource. If she's on their good side, they might autonomously help out in combat or otherwise aid in an objective.

"Those scenes can happen anywhere and there's tons of those different kinds of interactions," Levine explained. "The dialogue can happen anywhere they appear to you ... They're not in cutscenes. You don't have to watch 'em in cutscenes. They'll appear wherever you walk, wherever you look."

Another big departure from BioShock's classic formula is Judas' roguelite elements. In Judas, death is just a part of the journey--in fact, the game opens with Judas being brought back from the dead. Health is purposefully scarce, and not always easy to access when surrounded by enemies.

Levine clarified that Judas is not specifically a roguelite or a strategy game, but it does pull elements from those genres. "You do have the opportunity when you die to go change yourself," he explains, though adds that he doesn't want to give too much away. "Improve yourself, change your tool chest, which is a pretty broad and variable tool chest, and change the Mayflower itself."

Despite the departures from the BioShock formula, it appears Judas will feel fundamentally familiar to fans of BioShock--especially the weapon set-up of having a weapon in one hand and an elemental power in the other.

GameSpot's Lucy James checked out the game for the Friends Per Second podcast, and also discussed her first impressions with managing editor Tamoor Hussain for Spot On, which you can check out here.

Judas is expected to release by March 2025, and will be available on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.

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