When I imagine the Grim Reaper, I picture the traditional image we all know and, uh, love. You know – skeletonic, dark robes, scythe. Intimidating. Someone you most certainly don’t want to encounter. So it was with some surprise that I came across Little Reaper at AVCon recently. Hailing from Melbourne, Little Reaper Games has taken the Grim Reaper trope and turned it on its head in a platformer with a Mort-esque narrative that is as inviting as it is charming.
Adam Robertson of Little Reaper Games kindly took the time to have a chat with me about Little Reaper, its development process, and Little Reaper Games’ plans for the future.
PowerUp!: How’s your AVCon going?
A: It’s going great! We’ve had lots of popularity, lots of people coming by and playing the game.
PU!: Tell me about Little Reaper.
A: It’s an adventure platformer set in 2.5D—that is, a 3D world set in a 2D plane. It’s the adventure of Ollie, the grim reaper’s tiny assistant. Death himself has run off on a holiday and left you behind, but you mess up and break a big jar of souls, setting them all loose.
So now you have to run around the world and collect them, fight off your enemies and beat the bosses before Death comes back and finds out what you’ve done, and fires you.
PU!: What was the inspiration for the story?
A: We started off with the character of Ollie himself. We wanted to make a game where you’re a tiny, tiny little dude in a big world. And we thought, why not be a little reaper, an assistant reaper? Where’s Big Death gone? So we decided he’d gone off on a holiday and took it from there.
PU!: Ollie’s a pretty unique name, what made you choose that?
A: We just brainstormed names, we sort of went, OK, what’s cute and unexpected for a tiny grim reaper? What would you NOT have there?
PU!: It’s definitely unexpected!
A: Yeah, right?!
PU!: How long has Little Reaper been in development?
A: We’ve been working on it for about six years now, we’ve been going at it for quite a while! But we’re looking at release later this year, initially on Steam, and on other platforms afterwards.
PU!: Has the overall design of the game changed much in that time?
A: Quite a lot, yeah. It’s our first title and a lot of it has been trial-and-error, but we’ve really stuck at it and taken feedback on board, evolving the game to be better.
PU!: It had a different name earlier if I recall correctly? Grim Balance?
A: Yeah! The name change kind of came from the game changing. Initially, we had elements to do with balancing the good and the evil souls. But that kind of evolved out of the game because it became messy and confusing. As a result the game no longer reflected the name, so we decided to change it.
Also, no one remembered the name Grim Balance. Everyone would say, “oh, it’s the Little Reaper game!” It was right there, and we went, “OK!”
PU!: And it ties in beautifully with your little Ollie plushies, there are so many great ways you can play with that.
A: Yeah, he’s our little mascot. I don’t think he’s going anywhere anytime soon. He’s a good sales boy.
PU!: What are you hoping to get out of AVCon?
A: A lot of testing. We’re showing a bit more than we have in the past, a few later levels and some more mechanics. We’re getting an idea of how people are adapting to that and just getting the word out there.
PU!: Where to from here?
A: Well, the next step is PAX again this year. We showed it at a few other PAXs, but obviously we’re hoping to have it released this time around. And afterwards, looking at making the next game.
It’s probably going to involve a smaller game with a smaller timeframe. We’ve got a bunch of different ideas, but nothing really set in stone yet. Our idea as a company is to try to make systems, to try to build our skills towards new projects and work towards new games.
And eventually, we’ve got ideas for the big games we want to make. So in the meantime, we’ll make smaller games that build up our repertoire of titles.
Little Reaper can be added to your wishlist in anticipation of its release on Steam, and followed on Facebook, Twitter, and via Little Reaper Games’ website.
Many thanks to Adam Robertson for taking the time to speak with us.