She Dreams Elsewhere Interview - Creator Davionne Gooden Speaks On Creative Decisions and Inspirations Behind The Upcoming Indie Title
The developer tells us about what players can expect from his indie title and the reason as to why he decided to create it.
She Dreams Elsewhere became one of my most anticipated games after I played its prologue at PAX West last month. It stars a young woman named Thalia who deals with anxiety along with problems transitioning to deal with day to day life of adulthood. Outside of the music and character design, the game was developed by just one person. After going hands-on I wanted to know everything I could about the upcoming indie. After meeting with creator Davionne Gooden at the event I recently got to ask him questions about what players can expect from his game.
“I opted to go for a more intimate, personal story that could resonate deeper with both myself and other players.”
Cameron Hawkins: What is your motivation behind She Dreams Elsewhere? What made you decide that this would be the game you would create?
As far as the game itself, I’ve always been interested in dreams and how they reflect our own emotions and memories. Plus, I’ve always thought there were too many “save the world”-type plots in games, so I opted to go for a more intimate, personal story that could resonate deeper with both myself and other players.
DG: Thalia is a mid-20s, recently jobless woman who’s had a bit of a struggle adapting to the whole “adulting” thing, and feels like she’s wandering aimlessly through life. She’s spunky, witty, and fun to be around, but she doesn’t do very well in large groups and prefers to spend most of her time alone. Like many of us, she also struggles with her own mental health, the extent of which is unraveled throughout the game as she grows and learns to confront it directly. At least that’s what I can say without getting into heavy spoiler territory.
DG: I just… really love dogs. Like, a lot. Who doesn’t, right? I thought it’d be cute to have them act as save points rather than a static icon. They’re also all individually named with their own unique personalities, so each one is memorable and gives a player a moment to relax before moving on.
DG: *Laughs* yeah I get those a lot. Persona for sure is a huge influence, both in terms of gameplay and overall atmosphere (though I’ve yet to play 5, weirdly enough). Undertale definitely inspired me from a development standpoint – like the fact that this one guy (plus whatever help he had) made such a standout, impressionable game was just so inspiring. As far as its influence on the game itself, though, it’s practically nonexistent and I don’t really refer back to it; that would go to its own influence, the Mother series which I absolutely adore.
Other gaming inspirations include Psychonauts, Kingdom Hearts, OFF, Yume Nikki, Life is Strange, Blank Dream, Space Funeral, Maniac Mansion, the list goes on…but honestly, I take more from other mediums and personal experiences than I do games. Stuff like Atlanta, Bojack Horseman, Seinfeld, Waking Life, Paprika, anything and everything Studio Ghibli, hip-hop (shoutout the homie Tyler, the Creator!), vaporwave, Japanese citypop… again, I could go on for days.
DG: There’s a bunch of different areas in the game, each one reflecting Thalia’s inner fears and anxieties, as well as some of her safer, relaxing spaces.
DG: Thanks for the compliments! The music is easily one of my favorite aspects of the whole thing. It’s split into two elements – the original soundtrack composed by Mimi Page, which represents the more dreamy, ethereal vibe of the game, and the other which consists of licensed tracks from indie artists, mostly hip-hop and bedroom pop, which reps the more grounded, real-world vibe of it all.
DG: It’s just the three of them for the full party, though other characters will occasionally help out in certain moments.
DG: Absolutely! Not only are they developed through the main story, but you can discover their own side stories through the “Connection” system, which is basically a combo of Persona’s Social Links and Mass Effect 2’s Loyalty Missions. I talked about it more in-depth in a previous devlog, but essentially you’ll be hanging out one-on-one with a specific character and getting into various shenanigans with them, all while learning about their struggles and stories along the way. Not only do you get to discover more about said characters, but it also allows me to explore other genres and gameplay styles too, so that’s all really exciting.
She Dreams Elsewhere has a release window of early 2020 and will come to Xbox One, Steam, Linux, and Mac. If you are interested in playing the prologue for the game, you can download it for free on Steam. For updates on She Dreams Elsewhere you can follow Davionne as well as his development studio, Studio Zevere, on Twitter.