One of the core mechanics of Anxiety of Alina - besides swinging your flashlight like a saber :D - is her surely depleting Courage. It's basically her Health Bar, shown as a heartbeat icon in the game. Once it runs out, the game is over. She is consumed by the shadows...
We were talking about 'sanity' at the first meetings about this game, when we were still figuring things out. Sanity is a familiar term to anyone who has ever played any Lovecraftian themed RPG, and relates well to the general theme we were going for. But to distinguish ourselves a bit from Shub-Niggurath and the likes, we wanted a different name for it and settled on courage in the end.
Early on, we were talking about comfort food as a means to regain courage. A little later, comic books were suggested and they became a strong contestant for chocolates, that now felt a bit too safe an option. Reading superhero comics could make her feel powerful herself, or she would want to be brave like the heroes in the comics. For a while we toyed with the idea that the comics could actually be the source of the monsters: it was her own vivid imagination that brought them to be. Eventually we had to tone back on this angle as it was a bit too distracting from the other storyline we were scripting. But we still kept the comics.
How courage was actually regained was another question about which we had lengthy discussions. At early drafts we planned that the comics would be bought into a reserve and if the player chose to use a comic during a monster wave, Alina would hide herself under the blanket to read it for a while - which was a bit of a risk-reward type of situation, as meanwhile the monsters would still be creeping up on her! In the end, we didn't want to punish the player for having to use a restorative item, especially since they would most likely be used when direly needed so the risks would be too high. Also, it would make more sense for her to read them during daytime, so we decided that purchasing a comic would use it immediately. For those really-need-more-courage-now!-situations we re-implemented the chocolate bars - spike of blood sugar is kinda like adrenaline, right? ;)
The comics also gave us an other idea for that little something extra for the game: collections. The comics are issue numbered, and each will trigger some event relating to the comic book that was read. It would need a specific strategy from the player to be able to read them all during one playthrough, which is why were planning on making that an achievement. Hopefully we'll have time to illustrate the covers as well, but we are not sure about that yet...
So if you were ever wondering where the comics came from, this is why :)
Author: Sade, Vainary CEO / Anxiety of Alina producer
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