Interview: MARS 2120 Developers Deliberate On Refining Combat Mechanics As Primary Hurdle

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MARS 2120 - via QUByte Interactive

MARS 2120 is an Action-Adventure Metroidvania game that efficiently utilizes melee and ranged combat. Featuring breathtaking visuals and combat, the game has proven to offer a remarkable campaign experience.

Unlike most Metroidvania games, MARS 2120 is highly engaging, thanks to the well-designed combat that demands players’ strategic thinking and the right choice of weapon upgrades to progress the game. To shed more light on combat along with design inspiration, we interviewed Marcel Bernardi, Game Director of MARS 2120, over an email. 

MARS 2120 - via QUByte Interactive
MARS 2120 – via QUByte Interactive

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on MARS 2120.

Marcel: Hi, my name is Marcel Bernardi, and I’m a Co-Founder at QUByte Interactive and MARS 2120’s Game Director. I was also responsible for the majority of Chartlotte’s animations (the Main Character) and also a great deal of the Environments, and of course, being a small indie studio, I’ve had to do a lot of other small and unfun stuff as well.

MARS 2120 perfectly fits into the Metroidvania genre, especially with the inspiration from Super Metroid. But what were the major hurdles to make this possible?

Marcel: Our main objective was to make a game with some core differences from any other title that we know. The major difficulty, but also our greatest pleasure, was to finetune the combat added with traversal powers, all with its elemental functionality that is not only cool to use and discover but also very useful in our game world.

MARS 2120 - via QUByte Interactive
MARS 2120 – via QUByte Interactive

Can you expand on the major aspects of Project Colonies: MARS 2120 that make it a promising metroidvania title?

Marcel: First and foremost is the combat; we wanted to bring our love from beat’em ups and fighting games to a genre where there’s not much of it. But at the same time, we need to keep what is common ground from all Metroidvania players: the exploration, the backtracking, the strategy, and, of course, the setting in a world full of mysteries to be uncovered.

How did you manage to balance the difficulty for players new to the genre?

Marcel: One thing that has been clear for the entire team since the beginning is accessibility. We wanted all kinds of players to enjoy our adventure. So, we deliver several options that fine-tune the experience as a whole.

The challenges, the difficulty, the fun, so we bring the basic difficulty of the main game, but it can be expanded as the player desires.

combat in MARS 2120
MARS 2120 – via QUByte Interactive

There is a mixed opinion on ranged and melee combat. The melee combat especially feels much smoother and more well-designed. Was your focus on melee combat primarily and ranged secondary?

Marcel: That’s it. We really wanted to bring nice and cool combat to the game, but not excluding the gun fights that are so intrinsic to metroidvanias. So, we bring several moves and concepts from fighting games and also try to expand on the rifle’s functionality and styles.

MARS 2120 does a perfect job with the sound design; from action sequences to background music, everything fits nicely. What was the approach taken by QUByte Interactive to make the sound very intriguing?

Marcel: Well, the sound was a great challenge itself. From the beginning, we knew that we wanted Rafael Langoni’s themes for the game since he’s our long-time collaborator, and we’re huge fans of his work.

But the sound design was spot on, almost at the end of the project, when we brought a very competent team to take care of it. A team that fits with our studio philosophy and also that loves the project.

Action Packed Combat
MARS 2120 – via QUByte Interactive

Now that the game is out of Early Access, how has the feedback been so far?

Marcel: The Metroidvania fans are a very welcoming community, very passionate people who like to participate in the production to make a good game. The feedback has been not only good but fundamental to us in delivering what they can enjoy for the adventures to come.

How long has the game been under development, and how many developers have actively worked on MARS 2120?

Marcel: MARS 2120 is QUByte’s most ambitious and biggest project by far, so we took lots of challenges, knowing that we had to overcome them, but we knew that was fundamental to the studio’s growth.

The project took 5 years from the first sketches to delivery, but with a very small team. The core of the team was about 7 people, but we had a lot of extra help on specific periods of the project. 

MARS 2120 - via QUByte Interactive
MARS 2120 – via QUByte Interactive

The game has come a long way, with the community feedback paving the way for development. Are there plans for additional content in DLC or campaign expansion?

Marcel: The community is fundamental in our modern gaming world. We knew that without the community, the game could be mediocre at best, so we would like to thank all the people who played, liked, disliked, reviewed, and talked to us about MARS 2120; without them, the game could be very different.

About additional content, well, we have a lot of things planned, but those things will only see the light of day, depending on the game’s performance, but we have faith that it will be great.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Marcel: MARS 2120 is a game from some people who love games and good stories and only desire to share their passion with everyone else. So we hope that the game can find its place in the gaming time not only for Metroidvania’s players but also for everyone who likes to play video games as a hobby. Thank you everyone.

MARS 2120 is a 2.5D Action-Adventure video game developed and published by QUByte Interactive. The game was released on October 27, 2022, for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. 

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