Hellsweeper VR – The Interview

September 17, 2023 ·

When you think about the purpose people have on this Earth, what comes to mind? Would it be saving those that we swore to protect or would our purpose be those that cause harm to those that we thought we could trust? Do you think you would practice every day to perfect your craft or would you let the days slip away just hoping that you are prepared for whatever may come your way? When you really start to think about our own purpose, things can become very interesting, to say the least. But when I heard that the developer, Mixed Realms, was making the spiritual successor to Sairento VR, I had to learn more. So I reached out and the Creative Director, Edi Torres, was happy to talk about their newest game, Hellsweeper VR and Virtual Reality.

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Interview with the Creative Director at Mixed Realms, Edi Torres

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Welcome to THE VR DIMENSION. Would you introduce yourself and what you do at Mixed Realms?

“Hi! I’m Edi Torres, Creative Director at Mixed Realms.”

Growing up, what have been some of your most memorable gaming moments, and what was that one VR experience that made you want to do more with Virtual Reality?

“Back in the mid 90s, my siblings and I would huddle around the screen playing Doom, Doom II, and Heretic. Those were my first video games, and honestly, it’s probably the only time I didn’t completely suck at action games.

It’s kind of wild now working on Hellsweeper VR which shares some similar themes with games I loved growing up. So, when someone says Hellsweeper VR rings a bell of Doom or Heretic/Hexen, I grin from ear to ear – that’s a badge of honor!

In 2016, our studio started working on our first game Sairento VR, when virtual reality gaming was just starting to get some traction. Prior to that, my earliest VR experience was with Raw Data. The sensation of being ‘inside’ a game, looking around in 360, and physically interacting with weapons was surreal. Back then, I was really fortunate to be part of a small (and crazy) team who was equally as excited and passionate about exploring a new gaming medium.”

Mixed Realms has the start of an impressive portfolio with Gordian Quest and Sairento VR, which has been your favorite project to work on and how does it feel to team up with Vertigo Games?

“Asking me to pick a favorite project is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child! Sairento VR was our studio’s first game, built for a platform that was quite new at the time, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Gordian Quest let me dive back into turn-based and roguelike games, which I really enjoy. Now, with Hellsweeper, we’re coming back to our studio’s roots in VR. It’s a thrilling chance to use everything we’ve learned from our earlier games and create a fresh new experience.

Our collaboration with Vertigo has been synergistic, exciting, and insightful on many levels. They’re not just experienced publishers in the VR space; they’re also the developers behind some of our favorite VR games, Arizona Sunshine and After the Fall.”

Your newest game, Hellsweeper VR is coming out soon. What can you tell us about the game?

Hellsweeper VR is all about intense limitless movement. We give players the freedom to run on walls, power-slide, backflip, double jump, and more, all while mastering a wide array of weapons and magical abilities. The idea behind Hellsweeper stems from our desire to build on the recipe of Sairento VR, which was well-loved by the community for its intense, no-holds-barred locomotion system. 

We wanted to deliver a title that was worthy of being Sairento VR’s spiritual successor – but with better graphics, improved combat, and more innovative gameplay.”

Is Hellsweeper VR really the spiritual successor to Sairento VR?

“Yes, and more! It takes the best elements of Sairento VR, like its unrestricted movement mechanics, and enhances them with a deeper progression system. Skills and weapons in Hellsweeper VR have unlockable traits, allowing for a wider range of play styles and skill combinations.

For example, Hellsweeper includes elemental magic. Players can start by conjuring a basic fireball and upgrade it to cast powerful spells like Fire Vortex, which creates a blazing tornado that incinerates enemies caught within. Different elements can be combined to create new forms of magic, or imbued into weapons to boost their damage and effects.

While Sairento’s melee combat is purely arcade and fast-paced, Hellsweeper uses semi-realistic physics for better immersion, while still allowing for fantastical moves like air juggling enemies, a nod to Devil May Cry!”

What can you tell us about the main character?

“The main character is an immortal soul trapped in an endless cycle of repentance for a sin committed during his life. His penance? To ‘sweep’ errant demons trying to escape the depths of hell and sow chaos in the mortal realms. He also likes to keep his hair neat and his shoes shiny — imagine being able to pull that off after facing a bloody onslaught of demons.”

The moving mechanics look intense as you start to face some of the creatures in hell. What can you tell us about them and did you have to do anything different for the different platforms?

“We’ve built on the intense locomotion from our first game, Sairento VR – which includes wall running, sliding, somersaulting, and double-jumping – and introduced new mechanics, like air-dashing, to give players even more mobility options.

Each platform has its own set of guidelines, so while the core experience remains consistent across all of them, we made sure there’s comfort and accessibility options to meet different requirements. It’s been a laborious process, but ultimately, we believe it’s for the best, as we want to make the game as accessible as possible for players, regardless of their experience level.”

It’s interesting that you are able to go to different dimensions and use different weapons. Without spoiling too much can you tell us about the dimensions, the weapons, and the powers the player can expect to use?

“The game unfolds within the ‘Lands in Twain’ – not quite hell but rather a limbo that straddles between the mortal world and the underworld. This realm disregards the constructs of time and space, creating environments derived from a mishmash of places and events.

We have a diverse array of weapons and abilities, each offering a series of unique traits that players can unlock and upgrade for a wide range of capabilities and creative combos.

One of my personal favorites is the flailing mace, which not only allows players to obliterate demons with a powerful swing but also includes a hookshot ability. This lets you drag lighter enemies towards you for a sweeping final attack or launch yourself towards heavier enemies or across spaces.”

With Hellsweeper VR coming to PCVR, Quest 2/Pro, and PlayStation VR2, were there any challenges you were not anticipating? What has been done to make sure the PlayStation VR2 features were incorporated and how are the features used in the game?

“Optimization and porting are usually the least favorite tasks among game developers, and we’re no exception. While we were prepared for these challenges due to our experiences with previous games, it doesn’t mean they were any less daunting.

Our aim was to enable crossplay for Hellsweeper’s co-op mode, which required us to ensure a consistent and enjoyable experience across all platforms.”

The different levels and creatures in Hellsweeper VR look insane. Without giving away too much, what are some of your favorite enemies and what are some things that you can’t wait for players to experience?

“Most of the enemies are modeled after the seven deadly sins: Greed, Gluttony, Lust, and so on. Meanwhile, the bosses are referred to as the “Ascended Sins,” a term we crafted based on their unique appearances and abilities. It’s difficult to pick favorites since I was deeply involved in character development. However, if I had to choose one, it would be Corruption. This colossal boss frequently appears in our trailers, especially the early ones. The design of Corruption actually served as the foundation for the art direction of the rest of the enemies.

Players who tried our demo on Steam will know we cut the experience just before the first boss fight. This suspenseful approach left many eager to finally face Corruption once the full game launches, and I’m equally as excited about what the outcome of this big showdown will be!”

VR is about immersion and taking the player to new places. What have Mixed Realms done to make sure the player can experience the insanity without feeling any motion sickness?

“We know that we’re developing an intense action game but we intend to make it as accessible to as many VR players as possible. Many features can be toggled on or off depending on the player’s comfort preferences such as vision tunneling, locomotion/teleportation settings, free/room rotation, and more.”

Sound also helps make VR immersion. Is there anything special that was done with the sound and using 3D audio that the player will be immersed in and you can’t wait to hear the player’s responses?

“Being a fast-paced action game filled with hordes of demons ready to engage in battle, we took special care to give each enemy its own unique sound, ensuring nothing gets drowned out in the chaos. Moreover, we have distinct ambient sound designs for different environment types, so players can enjoy Hellsweeper’s hellish atmosphere, even when they turn off the in-game music.”

Do we have an official date when players can enter the world of Hellsweeper VR?

“We are aiming to release Hellsweeper VR on Quest 2, PSVR2, and Steam on September 21 this year.”

If you walked through the door into THE VR DIMENSION, but it was in the world of Hellsweeper VR, but could pick anyone from any time period to be the undead soul to take on the demonic souls, who would it be and why?

“I’d absolutely bring along my late cat, Mengie. Who else would have the guts to jaunt through hell and back other than a cat? I can’t guarantee he’d escort me back in one piece, but teaming up with a temperamental housecat to conquer twisted underworld souls would be one hell of a joy ride!

While we don’t have a Hellcat in Hellsweeper, there is a loyal Hellhound to keep players company either in battle or a simple game of fetch.”

With the content for Virtual Reality continuing to grow, what would you say to someone as to why they should experience Hellsweeper VR?

“Give Hellsweeper VR a shot because virtual reality is all about experiencing the impossible. Imagine being able to wall run while dual-wielding pistols loaded with fiery bullets, somersaulting onto your enemy to deliver a decisive broadsword blow, or casting a colossal fire vortex to incinerate flying demon heads that are after you. Or ever thought about using your enemies as surfboards while you rain down frost-imbued arrows across a floating island? If you’re a fan of fast-paced, relentless action and aren’t afraid to push your limits, we hope to see you in Hellsweeper VR!”

I really want to thank Edi for taking the time out of their day and for giving us a closer look into Hellsweeper VR as well as talking about Virtual Reality.

Hellsweeper VR is releasing for the Quest 2/Pro on the Oculus Store, PlayStation VR2 on the PlayStation Store, and Steam VR on September 21, 2023.

To learn more about Mixed Realms, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

To learn more about Vertigo Games, please visit their site and make sure you like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. 

In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy.

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