The pitch for the forthcoming video game The Axis Unseen goes like this: “The Axis Unseen is a Heavy Metal Open World Horror Hunting game. Hunt and track monsters in a world trapped outside of time. Upgrade your bow and your senses. Reach shelter before nightfall. Don’t forget that you are being hunted as well.”
Created for Just Purkey Games by veteran game wizard Nathan Purkeypile—who spent 14 years at Bethesda Game Studios working on award-winning games such as Fallout 3, Skyrim and Starfield—The Axis Unseen also features a soundtrack created by former ISIS keyboardist/guitarist Clifford Meyer. Check out an exclusive stream of “Murky Combat” below, along with the trailer for the game and an interview with Purkeypile.
What inspired The Axis Unseen?
The Axis Unseen is inspired by the concept of “Axis Mundi,” which is the idea of the cosmic axis, or world tree. Cultures all across the world have myths of a place like this. It is a realm beyond our own that bridges lots of different spaces in the real world. So the idea is that there is this other world full of monsters, and that is why so many cultures have stories of monsters that are so similar: They all came from this place.
Why did you want to make a hunting game specifically?
I liked the idea of making a more methodical game where you’re really paying attention. In so many games you end up killing hundreds—if not thousands—of things and the behaviors are often not that sophisticated. Here, by digging deeper into it and slowing it down, you have to care about things like wind direction (so they don’t smell you), what kind of surfaces you’re walking on (because it might make more noise or leave tracks they can follow) and things like that.
It’s also just the kind of game I wanted to play, and it didn’t exist. There are hunting games, but even the ones that are more on the simulator side do stuff like leave footprints that glow intensely over everything. I don’t like games that are UI heavy and have appreciated games that do everything in the game world itself—that way you are more immersed. That’s also why I stylized the game more. It’s really hard to track things in real life, so realistic graphics don’t work for that. The art in this game is all made with flat colors, so the tracks really stand out. That is one of the nice things about being a solo indie developer—I can make decisions like that which I think are best for the game as a whole, not just the art or design.
Cliff Meyer did the soundtrack. Why did you seek him out for your game?
ISIS was always one of my favorite bands. They were in constant rotation for my “music to work to” and I always dug the atmosphere and variety in the music. I saw them live a few times and one of those shows was even one of their last. I still have a poster down in my basement from when I saw them in Austin years back. I was thinking what kind of music would be perfect for the game, and that was my first thought.
On a whim one day I just found their Bandcamp page and sent an email asking if they licensed their stuff and mentioned that I worked on stuff like Fallout 3/4/76 and Skyrim. Turns out Clifford is a fan of Skyrim and he asked if I was looking for anyone to make music for the game itself. We got to chatting and he sent a few sample tracks of what it could be like, and it was perfect. From day one he got exactly what I was talking about musically. He’s been great to work with and I can’t wait for people to hear more!
The music is made from a fusion of metal and primitive instruments. What appeals to you about that combination?
I wanted something that had a distinct feel that also matched the aesthetics of what I was going for in the game. It’s this weird world full of skulls, monsters, giant monoliths, lumbering golems protecting the land—and no technology. I wanted to reflect that with music, and to me music is incredibly important to the feel of a game. There have been “metal” games before, but I feel like that often gets into this territory that is almost satire. I have really liked some of that stuff, but it’s definitely a more comical tone. So for metalheads like me, I wanted to make a game that was more serious. This game is the kind of thing I see in my head when I listen to metal music.