As the winner of numerous indie awards, The Occultist is shaping up to be one of the more promising first person horror videogames to look out for. And although the game won’t be released until 2025, it’s already being lauded for its graphics and gameplay elements which are centered around a psychological narrative. David Lorenzo (CEO, Pentakill Studios) was also kind enough to tell me more about the game, and was also able to lay out his future plans for The Occultist.

How long have you been in the industry for, and what’s your background in game development?

It’s a bit tricky because I started working on small projects in 2014 and also in teaching. We have a school in Valladolid (Spain), the city we are located in, and in 2018 we started doing professional work for other companies, doing work for hire. We did mobile applications, VR and AR Gaming, and all this gave us experience to work as a team and to also reach the initial funding which we needed to create the studio. So in May 2021 we officially started Pentakill Studios.

You’re based in Spain. What’s the Spanish game development scene like, especially from an indie perspective?

Sincerely, we have a lot of work to do. The authorities have to be more seriously involved, because the thing is that we just don’t have the same level of support from our authorities, unlike France or Germany, for example. We literally don’t have anything. I mean, no big grants for studios. And that’s the reason why so many studios with great ideas have had to close their doors. And it’s a stupid thing, because when they find a job as a waiter, for example, they stop working on their games.

Time is money…

Yes, for sure. And this is a profession. This is a job. A serious and professional job. And that’s something that the Spanish authorities have yet to know. We’ve tried, and we are talking to the councils almost every week. But I don’t know why, even though they see the numbers… “Yeah, videogames earn a lot of money”. Then why aren’t you doing something to improve the sector? There’s no response to this.

What’s the size of the studio?

We are nine full time people.

When’s the game out?

We can say that the game will be launched in early 2025.

You started in early 2021, and the game will be out in early 2025. Why do you think it’s going to take 4 years for the game to come to market?

I think it depends on the genre or the style of the game. In our case, it’s a narrative game, so we have to complete a very long story. That’s the reason we have a development period of four years. In our case, I think it’s because of the script. We are adapting the script because we are also working on a film, and if everything goes well, we will start the pre-production on the film in 2025.

How would you describe The Occultist to someone in an elevator who hasn’t heard of your game?

It’s a dark first-person narrative game in which you play the role of a guy who is able to interact with deaf people. You go around with a pendulum, the key feature of the game, and you are able to use it to interact with the environment and modify it in order to know and advance the story.

What engine is the game being developed on?

It’s being developed on Unreal Engine 5.

What was your reason for choosing that engine?

Yeah, at the very beginning it was just me. I was alone and I tried to make a prototype by my own. I am not a developer, and I am not a programmer. I do 3D, and this is my area. And I started learning Unreal because from the tutorial side I realized that a normal person, a non-programmer, can do games without knowing coding. So I started the prototype in Unreal, and that’s the reason why we used it, and we are extremely happy because all these graphic visualizations that we have achieved is thanks to Unreal, and we are using almost all of the techniques and new technologies that Unreal is providing developers so as to make the game development easier.

You’re obviously acquainted with Unreal. Even though Unreal is making inroads in the game development community, Unity still happens to be the indie game development standard. Is there any particular reason why you didn’t choose Unity?

We have been working with Unity since 2014. All of the projects which we have done in the past have been with Unity, but we changed in 2021. First of all, it’s for the graphics. We have worked with Unity and we know that Unity has extremely good graphics. But the thing is that if you want good graphics in Unity, you have to work more. In Unreal, for an artist, I think it’s easier to have good quality graphics without being immersed in technical stuff.

You’re signed with a publisher. What influenced your choice of publisher?

Because they are very focused on narrative games and that’s the first thing we were looking for. We also need funding. A lot of publishers have limited budgets, but we need more than a million to finish the game. Another important thing is that the narrative games that they have worked on in the past, because they take care of the story and the team, they are very involved in how we work. That’s the reason. They take good care of us.

Last question… You mentioned that there’s a movie being made. Are there any other future plans with regards to The Occultist as an IP? How do you want to develop the game beyond the scope of a film? Maybe branch out into comics? What about any DLC or sequels?

We are obviously focused on finishing the game, but there are plans to create DLC. And we don’t just want to finish the IP with this game. Because even though the story of The Occultist 1 is finished, it can continue with different chapters, different stories, and different stories with the same character in different areas. We want it to be a saga. It’s possible, but we will need to work for it in order to achieve it.

Thank you so much, David.

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