Xbox Wire: "South of Midnight: How the First Gameplay Trailer Hints at the Magic to Come"

The Editor-in-Chief from Xbox Wire, Joe Skrebels, was able to have an interview with some of of the people working on South of Midnight. Creative Director David Sears, Art Director Whitney Clayton, and Game Director Jasmin Roy.

They go over some of the thoughts and inspirations that went into this game and its story, the combat system and spells Hazel uses called Weaving, the enemies in the game called “Haints” and what they represent, the mythological characters like Two-Toed Tom (the giant alligator seen in the trailer) and their backstory and what they really are, what to expect from the different regions and environments, the stop motion aspect of the cutscenes and so much more.

I’ll post a bit of the article here but I definitely suggest reading the whole thing if you’re interested in the details going into this game. It’s pretty interesting. South of Midnight is one of my most anticipated games coming from XGS and after the watching the gameplay trailer I just wanna see more.

The first-ever gameplay trailer – taken from around a third of the way through the story – reintroduces us to our heroine Hazel (who we met in last year’s introductory trailer), now accompanied by a character who’ll follow her throughout the game, the loquacious Catfish. Following a Category 5 hurricane, Hazel has lost her mother, but gained once-dormant powers of Weaving, a magical ability that allows her to rework the tapestry of energy that makes up the universe. That doesn’t come too soon – reality itself has begun to fray, leading her deeper and deeper into a magical realist world, where folktale creatures have sprung to life, and corruption is overtaking the ruins left in the hurricane’s path.

As the trailer begins, Hazel and Catfish are on her mother’s trail – but spot one of the game’s mythical creatures, nightmarish bosses borne out of real-life folktales from the American South. In this case, we meet Two-Toed Tom – a blind, albino alligator the size of an island, offered new hunting grounds by widespread flooding. Catfish tells Hazel to travel to a dilapidated church and ring its bell to lure Tom so that they can escape, and we see her using a variety of Weaving powers to bypass obstacles – until she meets a Haint.

Haints are the game’s most common enemies, and come in many forms – what we see here is a Brute archetype, a mass of twisted negative energy given form by the trauma of the world around it. In practice, we see a combat sequence, Hazel using her Weaving powers to attack the threat with both Weaving tools and magic – but in storytelling terms, she’s weakening the dark psychic energy left behind here, until she’s literally given the option to ‘Unravel’ it with a finishing move. And here’s the key – as the Haint is yanked back out of reality, we see flowers bloom around Hazel. She hasn’t killed something – she’s fixed what was broken. That’s a clear message – South of Midnight, like Hazel herself, is doing things differently.

6cfa74dfa5d52ccc20b813fa48b49554.webp “From top to bottom, that’s the message behind Hazel, her combat design, her powers,” Sears explains. “Everything is a Weaving metaphor – Weavers are supposed to put things right, do good in the world. She’s literally repairing the tapestry, and with creatures – Haints included – we spent a good amount of time making sure it was clear that when you’re attacking or interacting, you’re doing it in a non-lethal but aggressive way. You’re doing it because you’re helping – removing the weight of all this trauma.”

It might sound like a heady message, but the way this ties into the game is fundamental – and it’s what makes South of Midnight so unique. With such a clear goal in mind, it means that a game in a very familiar genre can feel wholly unfamiliar.

Take South of Midnight’s world, for a start. Compulsion describes the game as “wide-linear,” a series of distinct chapters, with a set beginning and end, but with opportunities to explore along the way:

“[Players] are really in control of traversing there,” explains Roy. “So the way we built the environment is because we want players to follow the narrative, but have more to sink their teeth into – you can sometimes see some more open, hub-like sections.” This is a world built to deliver Compulsion’s carefully crafted story, but with the opportunity to find currency or upgrades, or otherwise unseen vistas off the beaten path.

Locations will feel deeply rooted in what we know of the real world – in fact, to help create this section of the game, the developers took a trip to a real Mississippi ghost town, itself infested with alligators (only one of them braved the trek across amphibian territory to get into an abandoned church and take reference shots). But as we travel, we’ll see how these areas have become overtaken by the game’s mythical creatures, bringing twisted change with them.

‘The world Hazel comes from is inspired by the contemporary Deep South” says Clayton, “but as you dive deeper into the world, things become more mystical and surreal. We wanted the feeling that you’re being pulled into a folktale, rather than, say, crossing a barrier like in Alice in Wonderland.”

Lots more here: South of Midnight: How the First Gameplay Trailer Hints at the Magic to Come

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Sounds great and the trailer looked great. Looking forward to playing it next year!!

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I love the talking fish. It seems the woman and fish have a strong bond. Really digging this!

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I can see a movie or TV series coming out of this!

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Honestly was not super impressed last year, this game was a big step up from my expectations this year. Looked very good.

For me the announcement trailer had my attention but I just didn’t know what kind of gameplay to expect from this game.

When they showed the gameplay trailer at the showcase I was impressed. The traversal mechanics look fun and while the combat doesn’t seem too deep (though it never necessarily needs to be), its more action oriented than what I was expecting. Im interested in seeing more of the Weaving abilities and seeing how they might add to the gameplay.

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I’m glad that those conversations about how first party resources could take those 2018 acquisitions to the next level has come to fruition.

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Everything I see and read about this game continues to rocket this one way up on my most wanted list. This looks like game makers truly doing their craft in an inventive and beautiful way. I can’t wait to play this one next year.

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Yeah everything about this game is speaking to me. Sounds crazy in the wake of a stacked show, but i think it was my favourite.

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This was the surprise of the show. Great time to be an Xbox gamer for sure.