Interview: Outer Terror Delivers Challenging Saga With Anthology Stories

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Outer Terror - via Salt & Pixel

Outer Terror is a bullet hell, horde shooter developed by Salt & Pixel that defines the genre accurately. It taps on the pulp-horror while combining the aspects of the anthology series making it a perfect grindhouse-like video game. What is even more unique is that you can enjoy the fast-paced gameplay in a nostalgic art design in a co-op session. 

To expand more on the details, we interviewed Marc Anthony Rodriguez, Co-Founder & COO of VoxPop Games, over email. 

Outer Terror Gameplay
Outer Terror – via Salt & Pixel

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role on Outer Terror.

Marc: Cheers, all. My name is Marc Anthony Rodriguez, Co-Founder & COO of VoxPop Games, Inc. I’ve been in the interactive entertainment industry for over 18 years and served as the Executive Producer for the Outer Terror product.

I managed the content development and gameplay tuning from our great developer partner, designer, and creative, Salt & Pixel LLC [Brandon Rodriguez]. Together, with our gameplay development support from the VoxPop Games side, we built this brand new horror anthology, Outer Terror.

Outer Terror draws inspiration from B-movies and Golden Age horror comics of the 80s and 90s. How did this influence the game's design and atmosphere?

Marc: Salt & Pixel has an amazing track record of working on horror-based products, toys, Game Boy titles, and full-fledged properties. One of the best things about this was his willingness to experiment with us. 

He was working on a product called Sitra Achra, where he built the mainline game to which the movie revolves, a horror witchcraft-styled game. He had been working with VoxPop Games on various distributions of his other sci-fi and horror games, and he built a platformer called “Grey Death.”

This title catalyzes our mainline discussion points of “How can we bring back true video game horror?”, in a new and inventive way. We had a bunch of discussions and calls and we spitballed, what if we built a game that didn’t have to be one thing, but a series of stories that could encompass all horror tropes?

The 90’s T.V. show & 50’s E.C. Comic books of Tales From The Crypt, Vault of Fear, 80’s Movies like Night of the Creeps, CREEPSHOW, LifeForce, The Thing, all of these retro items that current media are having a hard time translating back into a contemporary timeline. That is what Outer Terror evolved from.

We wanted to have all of these fantastic tropes presented as a living and evolving series of stories that would be able to be taken into this transmedia scope to encompass all different forms of content. Outer Terror can be a comic today, a toy line tomorrow, or a fully realized T.V. series of the future. 

For now, it is a fantastic set of five anthological stories with one of the most diverse and deep series cast of characters that is not forced, but naturally occurring as it did in all of the great horror and sci-fi from the 80s and 90s.

Outer Terror - via Salt & Pixel
Outer Terror – via Salt & Pixel

The game boasts an 'enthralling anthology series.' Can you elaborate on the creative process behind developing these unique stories with a unifying cosmic horror theme?

Marc: Salt & Pixel built the baseline in his free horror title, “Grey Death”, he pitched VoxPop a game project that was entitled, “Remnant: Beyond Grey Death” – this would have served to be a spiritual successor to his platformer zombie game, but with a new play style. We both saw a need for a new kind of gameplay loop and were both avid fans of the original horde shooter, Crimsonland

Many people don’t know the origins of a game like Vampire Survivors, but this game style already existed back in 2014. The style of avoidance, leveling up, juking around enemies to avoid damage, and choosing the right build on the fly, we wanted to build a true-to-form “Crimsonlike” around a world of new horror stories that played like a living comic book. Something timeless that can be told at any period but felt very familiar to everyone. 

We wanted stories with a partnership and a take on the co-op gameplay that was not seen in this game style either. The story of Remnant evolved into the first chapter of the game, with the main characters of the Salt & Pixel “Gray Death” game dealing with a cosmic unknown horror that enveloped the moon and turned humanity into masses of meat and fungus.

All of the central stories involve tropes that have evolved from just standard zombies and ghouls to real unknown terrors, like the TarMan from Return of the Living Dead, and Skinless arctic blood suckers buried in time under the ice.

Every story in Outer Terror has a new and fresh take, and we feel that is resounding for many gamers as well, since, all games have shown all kinds of horrific things, but not quite the way we have tried to accomplish things, and that is why a killer refrigerator with rogue AI can enter your screens and truly give you a chuckle as you avoid certain death from the swarms of hundreds of them surrounding you.

One thing that makes Outer Terror unique is the challenge it offers to players. Especially, the Boss encounters and Elite Creatures are highlighted as significant challenges in Outer Terror. Can you give us some insights into how these encounters were designed to provide a thrilling experience for players?

Marc: Outer Terror is not here to hold your hand, we crafted the game to be tough but fair, however, we also built an entire web series of guides to aid players. I grew up in the time of EGM and Nintendo Power, so there are no more print media game guides for folks encountering a tough game. 

A lot of the games of the current day, give a lot of handholding as well, with Outer Terror, since the entire game is a throwback to the ’80s & ’90s, we’ve taken a very “figure it out, Junior” kind of approach.

The elite bosses are crafted for each story very differently and in unique ways. For the Woods, you have soldiers of the Crying God, as the Fungal growth Tarmen styles swap monsters, and you have single-eyed flying enemies, affectionately coined by Dan Cheesling as the “Gnocchi.” 

All of the challenges and mini-boss characters are draws and evolutions of known and unknown entities. Salt & Pixel crafted many of them in the proto phase, which later refined back into the MEATBALL man, giant killer flying Chainsaws, a living AI server tower that walks and shoots energy blasts from its T.V. Screen head, and the most important of all the bosses, The Queen of All Vampires

We had a running joke that a lot of bloodsucker games never featured an origin of what it meant to be a Vampire, or even had vampires in their title without having any vampires in the game. Outer Terror allows players to meet this character, and try to battle here, or perhaps live long enough to see another sunrise.

Outer Terror – via Salt & Pixel

With roguelike horde shooter blending with bullet hell elements, how did you balance these different gameplay styles to ensure a satisfying experience for players?

Marc: The game is such a Smörgåsbord of content and gameplay styles, in balancing this, we relied on the fun factor. Our associate producer on the product, Connor Riley, did a lot of the gameplay QA and tuning, and this is something I tried to perfect during my time both at Rockstar Games and with Capcom. 

How do we find a way to give gamers options, and feature sets that are fun and engaging, and will consistently give you a game loop that is different from each play session to session?

This is a juke game; avoid it and live to fight for another minute. So we incorporated a Dash, which was funny enough that Diablo 4 enabled it as well. This Dash allows you to space out your auto attacks and gives each pattern a new way to attack the variant swarm patterns that come at you from moment to moment.

We also wanted to enable control at given points, with our mini-bosses and larger boss battles. Various other auto battle games give just standard patterns, we have our precision mode, if you just toggle your old right stick the trusty weird R3, pressing that click down once will allow you to push all your armaments and attack patterns in one direction, this works well to defeat the larger bosses and missions where you need a concentrated attack. 

I like to use this a lot, and this feature is great when you want to direct grenades, Molotovs, and throwables. Players love options, and we tried to balance all these features and provide fun ways to complete seemingly endless enemies.

The game features both offline and online co-op play. How does co-op gameplay enhance the experience in Outer Terror, and what challenges did you face in implementing this feature?

Marc: The offline co-op is one of the greatest couch co-op experiences of any indie game. It is so pick-up and play, the menu selection plays on fighting game selections, as you and your partner select your given character and try to get a solid partnership going to take on the story at hand.

This feature is also super cool since we give players the freedom to choose any partner co-op team. Many of the team-ups from each of the stories being told are bound to those specific key stories, and although they exist in the same Outer Terror universe, we weren’t sure if any combo of characters would be too OP for some scenarios, so finding that balance was key.

I personally, love to play as Anah, our elder Inuit character, and I team in a couch co-op session with my wife, who will play Lily, the Sports Store worker, these two badass female characters going out into the wilds of the Arctic or in other instances, underground bunkers fighting against waves of insanity is cool to play. There is a true sense of “let’s get through this together” and that kind of gameplay loop is timeless in this game.

Dialogue Screen
Outer Terror – via Salt & Pixel

Outer Terror is described as a spiritual successor to 'Gray Death.' Can you elaborate on the connections between the two games and how Outer Terror builds upon its predecessor?

Marc: Gray Death is an amazing action platformer game that encompasses a small story of a lone survivor shooting their way through an apocalyptic event. Outer Terror’s anthology kind of expands upon it in a new way. The best analogy is EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2, they are pretty much the exact story only part 2 has a bigger budget and more humour.

The “Beyond Gray Death” story sequence found in Outer Terror, is an Elsworld’s version of the original, “What would happen if a Lovecraftian entity were to envelop the Moon and turn everything into Cosmic monsters?”

Gray is our default “everyman” archetype, the guy who wants to do good and help as many people as possible, and he is accompanied by his friend, Albert.

The build between the characters in OUTER TERROR and Gray Death, is very wide, dealing with the fact that the comic presentation gives interpretation that can be seen in many different ways. The story is so simple but also allows gamers to wonder what Gray did before he was found in this new scenario. 

That is the cool factor of Outer Terror, there is still room to evolve these tales, and since they are anthological in basis, there is stand-alone or in gameplay instances, overlap with these characters.

How long has the game been under development and how many developers actively worked on Outer Terror?

Marc: Outer Terror was a collective effort, driven by the design, build, and development of SALT & PIXEL LLC, every pixel art placement, in-game playable character, and online, and offline co-op setup was all built from scratch, via Construct Engine. 

I handled the expansive nature of our marketing and publishing, as well as overall production, with Connor Riley, and we had tremendous success with our score by Cori Branch. Our VO work was in-house; my wife played the dual role of Lily and The Queen of All Vampires, and I played Gray and my father-in-law, Albert’s VO.

In addition, we have to thank our development partners at Ratalaika Games S.L., who localized and ported the game for consoles, along with the work that we also did with GamerSky to bring the PC version to China on Steam, this LOC work was handled and produced by Connor Riley and oversaw by GamerSky to ensure that all the terms in traditional Chinese and simplified adhered to cultural standards. We are proud that the game was featured so prominently on China’s Steam store.

A huge aspect of the game itself is the characters, and that work goes to the overall effort of Joe Roman (Chito) – between Salt & Pixel, myself, and Joe, we crafted these specific personas. Brandon would build out the sprite work for the players, and Joe and I would reverse engineer the look into the characters seen today in all the promotional items and within all the stories. 

I think this was an incredible way of giving the soul to the pixels that Salt & Pixel crafted. We used references from real-world examples, Albert is like an amalgamation of Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, and Dean Norris.

Outer Terror - via Salt & Pixel
Outer Terror – via Salt & Pixel

Now that the game is playable on Steam Deck, how has the community's feedback been?

Marc: The Steam Deck team has been super excited to work on the game’s approval. When we first launched in April of 2023, the Construct engine had direct conflicts with the baseline codeset of the original Steam Deck. So a lot of gamers wanted the game on the fly, a game like this works perfectly for a train commute to work, or traveling on a flight. 

As the Steam Deck verification opened up and the updated new OLED version dropped the game was ready for another evaluation and we ensured that it was PLAYABLE for all users to enjoy.

The game has always been able to be run via ROG Ally, but the Steam Deck partnership is very cool with what the IP can offer. The fact that the game is going onto the Nintendo Switch platform as well and plays so great with that device is also a testament to the power that a hybrid handheld platform has in the current day. 

Gamers want to be able to take great games with them everywhere and we are happy with the progress that Outer Terror has made with the community.

What's next for Outer Terror? Can you share any upcoming updates, expansions, or projects related to the game with us?

Marc: The biggest jump is the fact that Outer Terror was nominated at the prestigious New York Game Awards and our new push to Home Consoles this coming April 12th. 

The game will be coming to Xbox X/S, PS4, PS5 & Nintendo Switch consoles, for the Xbox and PS fans, this comes with full LOC support for EFIGS+J as well as Achievements and Trophies that we designed to be very cool to find and hopefully, everyone who purchases and unlock and get your Platinum or 1000G. For the Switch fans, the game can be played on the go- even in Local Co-Op mode.

The PC release will also include enhancements for QoL features and the new LOC regions for EFIGS+J.

Outer Terror
Outer Terror – via Salt & Pixel

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Marc: Everyone behind Outer Terror would like to thank all gamers for taking a chance with the experience of the game. This was a passion product from Salt & Pixel and VoxPop Games, we want to ensure that the property has legs and has already proven it can stand toe-to-toe with some of the best horror games out there. 

All we want to do is craft cool stuff, and the VoxPop Games team invites you to sign up for our new initiative to build the future and now of Indie Gaming here at

For all the dreamers and believers out there, for all the horror heads, and everyone into the unknown, just know that we are here for you, and we hope that you enjoy what Outer Terror has accomplished and what comes next. Thank you for Playing!!!

Outer Terror is an action-adventure, horde shooter developed by Salt & Pixel and published by VoxPop Games. The game was released on April 20, 2023, for PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

We are thankful to Marc Anthony Rodriguez for answering our questions, and to Dan Muir from PR Hound for helping us with the interview.

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