Stonefly Has Big Bugs and Small Mechs
I’ve always found bugs rather creepy. So when MWM Interactive invited me to see Stonefly I was a little worried. Big bugs are scary. Me being small so the bugs are big? Equally scary. Thankfully, it was worth coming to see the latest project from Creature in the Well developers Flight School Studio.
The demo that I got to see took place right at the start of the game. The developers took control of Annika, a young girl who decides to take her father’s mech out on a joyride. This served as a pretty basic tutorial where we got to see the basics of the game. The mech could bounce and glide, and this helped Annika get around the world. The world was also really unique. Either Annika is ant-sized, or everything else is just very big. The entire world is just one massive tree, and you’ll be hopping from leaves and branches to try and get around. This also means there are bugs, and they’re about the same size as you.
Despite this, the bugs aren’t super interested in you, at least not at first. You see, the world is loaded with materials and you need those. However, the bugs want them too, mostly to eat. So once you start grabbing materials, they get a little upset. Annika, however, isn’t a violent person. So how do you solve this problem? Gusts of wind, of course. Since you’re on a tree there’s plenty of platforms for things to be pushed off of. Before long you’ll get access to several abilities.
Over the course of the demo, Annika had several skills that she could chain together. At first, this was shooting gusts of wind to push smaller bugs around and dropping little stun bombs that would confuse them. Later on, she could also dash and shoot at the same time, throw out shiny distractions, create forcefields of wind, teleport, and more. Unfortunately, tragedy also struck, as a group of bandits hijacked Annika’s dad’s mech and ran away with it. So now she’s at square one and on a quest to get it back.
Thankfully, Annika does make friends with the Acorn Corps, and they’re willing to give her a junker mech to help her out. Of course, you need to start fixing this mech up before you can really do much with it. The world around you has plenty of inspiration though. As you battle enemies, Annika will take note of their features and use that to improve her mech. At one point she saw a heavily armored beetle, and it made her realize she could armor the mech even more, which would give you a health boost if applied. Of course, you still need to find the materials for these upgrades, but there’s plenty of opportunities to do so.
In addition to story quests, Annika can go on little adventures. At one point we go to see a world map, with a few different places she could travel to. These little expeditions can yield different minerals for her to work with, which lets her upgrade her mech even further. She can also study the tracks of an apex predator, and hunt those down, which can give special upgrade plans and mineral rewards to find. Both cases are randomized, so you’ll never get the same encounter multiple times in a row and you can always find new resources.
It helps that Stonefly is also lovely to look at. The whole game has a pretty great art style, which really does a fantastic job making you feel like these super small insects. In fact, the developer said it was inspired by painter Charley Harper, who painted wildlife with big bold colors. In addition to this, Flight School said that the soundtrack was being done by Natureboy Flako, who combines natural sounds into his music. It all serves to make a super unique audio-visual package.
I came away from Stonefly super impressed, and pretty excited for the full game. It looks like it combines both a super clever and unique world with fun gameplay elements that can be comboed together into an exciting combat system. While there’s still going to be plenty more to see, this is a game I’m at least excited for. Just, so long as it stays as bugs. I don’t want spiders. Please no spiders.
While Stonefly doesn’t currently have a release date, it will be available sometime soon on PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.