Dryad Interview With Developer Ultranite – Mythology, Slashers and Indie Horror Inspiration
Dryad is an upcoming indie horror thriller by developer, Ultranite, set to be released on April 22nd, 2021. As Josh Miller, a famous true-crime author, players investigate the mysterious “Tellus Murderers” and try to uncover the mystery behind the deaths of 4 camp counselors at Camp Tellus 40 years prior. As all horror games go, things don’t seem to pan out smoothly as you come face to face with the titular creature that is often linked to mythology—not much is known about the Dryad just yet, but we were able to speak with game developer, Ultranite, to learn of more exclusive information about the game! Check out the newly released trailer here:
-What genre are you exploring with Dryad? Psychological, thriller, mystery?
So, I would actually say that it’s a combination of all three of what you just said. There’s a lot of psychological elements, a lot of thriller, and the “true-crime” aspect—or mystery—plays very heavily into the game. I wanted to do a mix to keep things fresh, innovative and fun.
-Going back to the true-crime aspect, and the fact that the protagonist is a famous true-crime author, would you say that literature played a heavy role in the inspiration of Dryad?
Dryad isn’t inspired by novels, but rather movies—a lot of the game is inspired by arthouse psychological films like The Lighthouse, Hereditary, The Invisible Man, and Midsomer. The true-crime aspect came into effect when I was trying to figure out how to approach the current story that we have. It was originally going to take place within the main incident itself, but I wasn’t sure how to attack that, so the solution that I found was to craft it more into a true-crime story that’s being investigated.
-Speaking on the incident, “The Tellus Murders”—as described by what you have released about the game so far—is that based on any kind of real-life event, or is it completely original?
Completely original. The word “Tellus” in the name Camp Tellus (where the story takes place) is Latin for “Mother Earth” or “Mother Goddess.”
-The premise of the incident, involving 4 camp counselors who were murdered, reads to me as something like Friday The 13th, or a slasher film.
For sure! A lot of inspiration is taken from classic horror films like Halloween and Friday the 13th.I wanted to have a lot of components that’d appeal to the nostalgia of people in regards to a plethora of elements in horror media, even indie horror games of the past like Slenderman and Five Nights at Freddy’s.
-You brought up how the word “Tellus” is latin for imagery related to the Earth, which is interesting given the fact that the title of the game, Dryad, references a mythological creature often described as a woodland nymph with magical powers. What made you want to use that as the subject of the game?
Interestingly enough, Dryad wasn’t originally meant to be a game—I had initially written it in a screenplay format. The name, Dryad, came up when I was getting feedback from someone on the script, who suggested the name “Dryad”, as a character in the script reminded them of a Dryad in mythology. As I adapted the script into what is now the game, I came up with the idea of creating a real-life interpretation of what a Dryad actually may be outside of mythology.
-Can you elaborate more on the Dryad that we see in the trailer? There definitely appears to be a tension between the Dryad and the main character. How would you describe the Dryad’s motivations?
I would define the Dryad as a goddess of mother nature. Without giving too much away, I will say that there is a misunderstood connection between the Dryad and Josh, the main character.
-How would you describe the primary gameplay? Chase-driven, elements of combat, etc.?
There’s a mix of features–gameplay is heavily linked to investigation. There may or may not be instances where you are fighting back, and there definitely is a hiding aspect to it as well. There will always be the feeling of a looming threat throughout the game. A key element of gameplay actually involves taking notes during your investigation, and you will be picking up evidence and clues along the way.
-In the screenshots currently available, it appears to be first-person perspective, but Dryad is also described to be point-and-click. Can you elaborate on that?
It is first-person point of view where you’re controlling via point-and-click. Think Five Nights at Freddy’s.
-Speaking of Five Nights at Freddy’s, you’ve already publicly announced that Michella Moss, voice of Ballora in Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location, is confirmed to be lending her voice to Dryad. Is there any other confirmed voice actors that you would like to announce now?
Sure—this is the first time I’m announcing this—but Rich Banks is actually confirmed to be the voice of the protagonist, Josh Miller. He did a fantastic job; he was incredible to work with and I can’t wait for people to hear.
-What do you think makes the story of Dryad stand out from any other game that players have experienced before?
So I think the story stands out in terms of its linearity. It’s very cinematic, which is something that I don’t think you see very often in indie horror, which is typically more gameplay based. So I really wanted to have a lot of really nice cutscenes and a great story to back it up. By far, the aspect of Dryad I’m most excited for players to experience is the story. There’s a lot of deep rooted metaphors and messages throughout, and it’s a story that you will definitely take something away from by playing it. I will say that there is also a really great twist towards the end that will make it really stand out as well.
-Lastly, is there anything in particular that you want players to know of right now 6 months out from release?
Not anything in particular since the trailer will have dropped by the time this interview is published. However, I do want the players to know of the dedication behind this game—not just by me, but by many people. This is not a solo project by any means; the team behind Dryad is comprised of about 12 people. In particular I’d love to give a shout out to a couple people who have been here since the very beginning: @NeeTroo, @FanBoi, @Ramen116, @Darroc, @Synoxsis, @Burnt-Cookie, @HeroGollum are just to name a few.
Dryad is set to release on April 22nd, 2021! You can watch the newly release teaser trailer for it here, and follow along new updates on its official page here!