Interview: Rauniot Offers Exploration & Creative Thinking In A Bleak Finnish World

Featured Image
Rauniot - via Act Normal Games

Rauniot is an upcoming point-and-click adventure game featuring a 2D post-apocalyptic setting and focusing on challenging puzzles to push players to the edge. From some of the gritty soundtracks to dark themes, Rauniot aims at detailed narrative, with some of the best visuals for a 2D game. 

To learn more about the environment and development of Rauniot, we interviewed Heikki Pulkkinen, the solo developer behind the game, via email.

Rauniot - via Act Normal Games
Rauniot – via Act Normal Games

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work on Rauniot.

Heikki: My name is Heikki Pulkkinen and I created Rauniot as a solo-developer from an idea to a ready game with care and passion. In my previous company, we published horror games, and after that, we all decided to focus on our different projects.

It was quite hard to work full-time and develop Rauniot alongside. It was an excellent point to focus 110% on Rauniot.

Rauniot takes place in post-apocalyptic Finland. What inspired you to choose this unique setting?

Heikki: At first, when I was playing around with ideas, the setting was kind of a mixture of sci-fi and post-apocalyptic worlds, and the location was fictional at that point. But for some reason, post-apocalyptic themes and Finnish nature are both near my heart, so it started to be clear that I must add these two things to the game.

I also understood that it was not going to be an easy task for me, making this whole game all by myself, and I really had to link my interests to the game so I could handle all the long years. There also aren’t too many games located in Finland.

Dialogue Screen
Rauniot – via Act Normal Games

 The announcement also mentioned a disaster of 1975 that completely reshaped the world. But what exactly happened; was it nuclear warfare or pollution combined with climate change?

Heikki: Early climate change and something happened to the moon – oceans behaved disastrously. With hundreds of millions of refugees around the world, the borders of countries were not respected anymore. Humans did what they could do best – started to kill each other and began a nuclear war.

You also mentioned a variety of puzzles; from easy to hard. Can you share more details on the type of puzzles players will be able to engage within the game?

Heikki: For example, cutting a rope with a knife could be an example of an easier puzzle. A harder puzzle could be something like preparing multiple smaller things right first, then interacting with some other character, and after that understanding what to do to achieve something. 

Rauniot - via Act Normal Games
Rauniot – via Act Normal Games

Indie games often allow players to solve puzzles in different orders and it seems like Rauniot is moving forward in the same direction. How does this approach to puzzle design encourage exploration and creative thinking?

Heikki: People think and act differently. If the game enables one to explore things here and there in a different order and also solve puzzles in different ways, it encourages one to explore places and think more creatively. This could also rule out some possible bottlenecks from the game, and hopefully, the overall game flow will be better.

What is something Rauniot does differently from other adventure indie games?

Heikki: It’s an adventure among others, but hopefully, a grim atmosphere and a Finnish melancholy add their flavor to it. Also, the Finnish voice acting in the Northern dialect is something you don’t get to hear very much.

Using different in-game items
Rauniot – via Act Normal Games

Is this your first solo game? How has the experience been so far?

Heikki: Yes, and it took an eternity to get it ready. When it’s about passion, days fly past while developing – good and bad. Lots of up-and-downhills were included anyway, and I’ve also learned a lot. It wasn’t surely an easy task for me, but creating something that comes from my heart and seeing the progress was rewarding and helped me push forward.  

What were the major challenges involved during the development of Rauniot?

Heikki: At the beginning, locking the design process and just start doing the actual game. Later on, combining the story and the puzzles was pretty challenging. 

Will players be able to make choices that will impact the outcome for a character in the storyline?

Heikki: At some level yes, but not much.

Seeing the trailer, I was hooked on the music, and how it gradually increases in intensity, volume, or pace, creating a feeling of impending danger. Also, music plays a great role in Horror Indie. How did you manage the music-making side of the Rauniot?

Heikki: Nice to hear that. I like to listen to music when I make creative stuff, and occasionally, when I hear something that I somehow link to the world of Rauniot, I add it to my notes.

All the music was made by a Finnish composer, Paavo Härkönen, and when it was time to introduce my ideas – what the music or ambient should be like – I sent him my notes. Then, the talented and very nice guy Paavo translated my ideas into music that matched Rauniot’s world

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Heikki: Well, turn-based games are close to my heart, and maybe my next project will be turn-based. Pretty excited already.

Rauniot is a point-and-click adventure and 2D puzzle video game, under development by Act Normal Games, and is scheduled to release for PC on April 17, 2024.

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