The Zen & Art of Brazilian Indie Game “Aftertile”
By: Stephanie Chan
Wander the eternal halls of the Ever-Floating Comet in Aftertile, a charming “floatvania” from Brazilian indie studio LOSTALLOY. You play as Ghosty, a stranded spirit who must navigate mazes and avoid traps while searching for his final resting place.
It’s a melancholy quest, but as you explore the world and phase through walls, Aftertile exudes an unmistakeable sense of Zen. Clarissa “Maruki” Picolo, the game’s artist and one half of LOSTALLOY, says, “I wanted the idea of ‘resting’ but not as an obligation nor as a doom that all souls will have to face. I wanted something ‘chill.’”
And chill it is. Even with spikes and pitfalls threatening the stalwart Ghosty, the game’s gorgeous retro art aesthetic is reassuringly bright and colorful, popping with splashes of pastel purples and pinks. Populating the world are “bodhitiles”—so named for the Buddhist concept of enlightenment—and Shinto priestesses called “mikos.” In the pursuit of developing a tranquil atmosphere for the game, Maruki found inspiration from Buddhism, Shinto and Hinduism, applying certain principles from them in her artwork as well as in the overall game design.
“In the end, I decided that these three religions had deities that represented elements I wanted to include in the game, such as the passage of time or the importance of companionship,” Maruki says.
Aftertile was initially created for the Ludum Dare #35, a popular online game jam that challenges developers to create games in 72 hours. Ludum Dare is one of the longest running game jams around, founded in 2002 and occurring three times every year. Each Ludum Dare event is themed; #35’s theme was “shapeshifting.”
“The initial story came naturally from the fact that he’s a ghost in a maze,” Maruki says. “A solvable maze. So we thought: what would be the way out for a ghost that can go through walls in a maze?”
The answer: Ghosty just wants to find some peace. But there’s something amiss on the Ever-Floating Comet, and before he can rest, he’ll have to solve that mystery.
LOSTALLOY is comprised of Maruki and her husband Fausto “SugoiDev” Cheder.
“We decided to start making games when I was finishing my master’s degree in literature and game narratives in 2013,” Maruki explains. After experimenting and playing around with a few prototypes, they decided to form LOSTALLOY with the goal of creating games that are “purely fun.”
Aftertile is currently in pre-alpha, but you can follow along with LOSTALLOY’s progress on their developer’s log, where Maruki frequently posts level designs, animation tests, and updates on the game’s progress. You can also play the original LD35 jam version here.