Interview: Skaramazuzu Takes Inspiration From Tim Burton’s Style Of World

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Skaramazuzu - via Bleeding Moon Studio

Skaramazuzu is another famous entry in the hand-drawn campaign-focused video games, developed by Bleeding Moon Studio and Iphigames. The latest game introduces a unique character in a surreal world to explore the gothic locations and embark on a creepy adventure. You may also encounter numerous challenges with mysterious creatures and entities that will test your ability to solve creative puzzles. 

Despite offering a black-and-white world, Skaramazuzu shines in the storytelling for a cute and bizarre creature and its exploration tactics in a point-and-click 2D world. While the world might seem overwhelming at the start, it surely offers a unique experience with an easy-to-interact world. To learn more, we interviewed Adam Oikonomopoulos, Creative Director behind Skarmazuzu, over an email interview. 

Skaramazuzu - via Bleeding Moon Studio
Skaramazuzu – via Bleeding Moon Studio

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role on Skaramazuzu.

Adam: My name is Adam Oikonomopoulos, and I served as the Creative Director for Skaramazuzu. In this role, I was responsible for overseeing the creative direction, art direction, storytelling, and world-building aspects of the game.

Additionally, I handled the creation of all art assets and animations and wrote the story and all dialogues, ensuring that they aligned with the overall aesthetic vision of the game. My role involved directing both the visual and narrative aspects of the game to create a cohesive and immersive experience for players.

Skaramazuzu features a gray and creepy world with lots to discover throughout the gameplay. Can you expand on the inspiration behind this visual aesthetic of the world?

Adam: The visual aesthetic of Skaramazuzu’s world draws inspiration from a desire to create a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere. We aimed to evoke a sense of mystery and ambiguity as if the world itself is a manifestation of memories and dreams. It hides a secret puzzle waiting to be solved.

The grayscale palette combined with the minimalist yet stylized art style, reminiscent of old-fashioned shadow puppetry and cartoons, contributes to this enigmatic feeling. Additionally, elements of Tim Burton’s whimsical style add a touch of dark charm. By blending these influences, we sought to create a visually captivating environment that encourages players to engage with the game as if they were unravelling a mystery.

Skaramazuzu - via Bleeding Moon Studio
Skaramazuzu – via Bleeding Moon Studio

The soundtrack is described as 'dark' and 'atmospheric.' How does the music contribute to the overall mood of the game?

Adam: If we can talk about some basic influences that emerged during musical experimentation, then one could say that these are the atmosphere we find in Tim Burton’s films with the music of Danny Elfman and the mysterious playful compositional technique of Alfred Schnittke.

In short, the music had to transition between two emotions, one of which entered into the other to create a “blurred” mixture between these two emotional conditions. One would phrase it as sad joy or joyful sadness. In terms of dramaturgy and the sharing of musical themes, two axes were initially followed, relating to the geographical location and course of our hero Skaramazuzu (left-right).

Based on this criterion, in addition to the musical themes, two kinds of atmospheric musical veils were created, which on the one hand create a sense of space but also foreshadow the emotional world of each location.

You also mentioned that Zuzu, the main character, encounters many strange characters. How does Zuzu navigate these interactions and build trust?

Adam: Zuzu, the main character, navigates interactions with the strange characters encountered throughout the game with curiosity and openness. Despite lacking memories, Zuzu possesses a joyful and innocent demeanor that allows them to approach each encounter with genuine interest and kindness.

As Zuzu interacts with these characters, they listen attentively to their stories and offer assistance when needed. Through these interactions, Zuzu builds trust by demonstrating empathy, understanding, and a willingness to help others. Over time, as Zuzu learns more about each character and the world they inhabit, trust naturally develops, forming meaningful connections that drive the game’s narrative forward.

Skaramazuzu - via Bleeding Moon Studio
Skaramazuzu – via Bleeding Moon Studio

What kind of mechanics and puzzle players can expect in the game?

Adam: Players can expect a variety of mechanics and puzzles in Skaramazuzu that complement its narrative-driven gameplay. Here’s an overview of the mechanics and puzzles they can anticipate:

  1. Exploration: Players will have the opportunity to explore the hauntingly beautiful world of Skaramazuzu, uncovering hidden secrets and discovering new locations as they progress through the game.
  2. Interaction with Objects: Throughout their journey, players can interact with various objects in the environment to gather clues, solve puzzles, and progress the story.
  3. Inventory System: Skaramazuzu features an inventory system that allows players to collect and manage items they find during their exploration. These items can be used to solve puzzles or unlock new areas.
  4. Dialogue and Decision-Making: Interaction with the game’s characters not only drives the narrative forward but also provides valuable insights into the world of Skaramazuzu. Through dialogue with NPCs, players can learn more about the mysterious personalities they encounter, uncovering their backstories, motivations, and secrets. Furthermore, engaging in conversation may offer hints and clues about how to progress through the game or solve puzzles.
  5. Puzzle Solving: Skaramazuzu offers a straightforward yet engaging approach to puzzle-solving, with most puzzles intricately woven into the game’s narrative. Players will rely on dialogue from NPCs and information found in their diary to unravel the mysteries of the world. Additionally, some puzzles are as simple as determining which item to use to progress, adding an element of exploration and discovery to the gameplay.
  6. Unlocking New Locations: As players progress through the game and solve puzzles, they will unlock new areas to explore, revealing more of the game’s rich narrative and mysterious world.

Overall, Skaramazuzu offers an immersive experience filled with exploration, puzzle-solving, and narrative-driven gameplay that will keep players engaged from start to finish.

Can you elaborate on what makes Skaramazuzu's approach to the genre unique?

Adam: Skaramazuzu invites players into a captivating world where storytelling takes center stage, offering a unique adventure unlike any other. As players embark on Zuzu’s journey of self-discovery, they are drawn into a surreal and immersive experience where every aspect of the game is intricately woven to tell a compelling narrative.

  1. Narrative-Driven Immersion: Unlike conventional adventure games, where gameplay mechanics often overshadow the narrative, Skaramazuzu places storytelling at its core. Every aspect of the game, from exploration to puzzle-solving, is intricately woven to tell Zuzu’s story of self-discovery. As players delve deeper into the game, they become active participants in Zuzu’s journey, experiencing every step alongside Zuzu. Players feel Zuzu’s excitement and disappointment, share in their triumphs and setbacks, and ultimately come to realizations of the truth alongside Zuzu, making the journey a deeply immersive and rewarding experience from start to finish.
  2. Unique and Surreal Visual Aesthetic: Skaramazuzu’s visual aesthetic was crafted with the goal of creating a unique and memorable experience for players. The art style of the game is designed to leave a lasting impression, ensuring that players encounter an unforgettable visual journey. Drawing inspiration from shadow puppetry, old-fashioned cartoons, and the whimsical style of Tim Burton, the game’s grayscale visuals transport players to a dreamlike world filled with mystery and intrigue. Every environment is meticulously crafted to evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity, inviting players to explore and uncover its secrets.
  3. Narrative-Integrated Challenges: Skaramazuzu challenges traditional adventure game conventions with its approach to puzzle-solving. Instead of relying on conventional puzzles, the game seamlessly integrates gameplay with its narrative, offering players a more organic and immersive experience. Many puzzles are cleverly disguised as part of the story, requiring players to pay close attention to dialogue and environmental cues to progress. This unique blend of storytelling and puzzle-solving keeps players engaged and invested in the world of Skaramazuzu.
  4. Exploration of Characters and World: Central to Skaramazuzu’s appeal is its focus on exploration, both of the unique and strange world and of the diverse cast of characters inhabiting it. Players have the opportunity to interact with a plethora of strange and whimsical personalities, each with their own backstories, motivations, and secrets to uncover. Through dialogue and decision-making, players embark on a journey of discovery, encountering new friends, lore, stories, problems, and puzzles along the way. As players delve deeper into Zuzu’s tale of self-discovery, they not only uncover the mysteries of a strange world and unravel Zuzu’s story but may also find themselves exploring and contemplating existential questions about their own lives
  5. Ambient Soundscapes and Enigmatic Music: The overall ambience and aesthetic of Skaramazuzu are further enhanced by its haunting environmental sounds and enigmatic music. From the eerie whispers of the wind to the ethereal melodies that underscore each scene, every sound and musical cue is carefully crafted to complement the stylized grayscale visuals and immerse players in the game’s otherworldly atmosphere.

Skaramazuzu offers a unique adventure experience with its narrative-driven immersion, unique and surreal visual aesthetic, and seamless integration of gameplay and storytelling. Players embark on Zuzu’s journey of self-discovery, delving into a dreamlike world filled with mystery and intrigue.

As they explore diverse characters and unravel the game’s narrative-integrated challenges, players are immersed in an atmospheric experience heightened by haunting soundscapes and enigmatic music.

World of Skaramazuzu
Skaramazuzu – via Bleeding Moon Studio

Skaramazuzu features 'surreal and strange personalities.' Can you describe the types of characters Zuzu will meet?

Adam: In Skaramazuzu, players will encounter a diverse array of surreal and intriguing characters, each with their own distinct personalities and quirks. From playful and kind-hearted souls to wise and enigmatic beings, the NPCs in the game contribute to the rich tapestry of its world. Here’s a glimpse into the types of characters Zuzu will meet:

  1. Dragon: A playful and friendly dog with dreams of becoming a dragon, eager to make new friends.
  2. Gravekeeper: A wise and helpful soul who offers guidance to those in need, possessing knowledge about the mysterious world.
  3. Ghost: An abandoned and forgotten spirit bound to guard a cave, shrouded in loneliness and longing.
  4. Kid and Bird: A carefree and joyful childlike soul who delights in simple pleasures like swinging from trees, often accompanied by Bird, a smart and sarcastic character with a hidden caring side, known for its aloof demeanor.
  5. Mister and Misses: Life partners with complex personalities, masking insecurities and personal issues beneath confident facades.
  6. Nobody and Bug: A grumpy soul and its loyal, talkative friend, sharing a dynamic relationship despite their differences.
  7. Under and Over: Welcoming and inquisitive souls inhabiting a cave within a well, fascinated by collecting things.
  8. Pyro: A wise fire spirit with ancient origins, seeking meaning in its existence within the strange world.
  9. Creature and its members: An enigmatic leader and its loyal companions, holding many secrets and serving mysterious purposes.
  10. Tree: A mysterious and quirky soul residing in a tree, offering wisdom and eccentricity to those who seek it.
  11. Gardener: A kind yet troubled soul in need of care and love to overcome darkness and find redemption.
  12. Master: A mysterious and authoritative figure with deep knowledge of the world, possibly orchestrating events behind the scenes.

These characters, with their diverse personalities and backgrounds, contribute to the immersive and captivating experience of Skaramazuzu, adding depth and intrigue to Zuzu’s journey of self-discovery.

Also, how do these characters challenge or help Zuzu on their journey?

Adam: These characters present a diverse array of challenges and assistance to Zuzu throughout their journey. Some characters may provide valuable information or guidance, offering clues and insights that help Zuzu progress. Others may present obstacles or puzzles that Zuzu must overcome in order to continue their quest for self-discovery.

Additionally, their enigmatic nature and personal struggles add layers of complexity to Zuzu’s quest, challenging them to uncover deeper truths about themselves and the world around them.

Skaramazuzu - via Bleeding Moon Studio
Skaramazuzu – via Bleeding Moon Studio

How many developers have actively worked on Skaramazuzu, and how long has it been under development?

Adam: It took us 2 years to fully develop and publish Skaramazuzu with of course the valuable help of our 3 developers and also the people who assisted us with the music, art, and direction of the game. It’s a result that came from different characters and minds, this is the main reason it is so unique.

How did developers manage to balance the exploration and narrative progression in Skaramazuzu?

Adam: Developers achieved a delicate balance between exploration and narrative progression in Skaramazuzu through meticulous design and careful integration of gameplay elements. By creating a richly detailed world filled with intriguing characters and captivating environments, the goal was to craft a game where players would be naturally drawn to explore every corner while uncovering the unfolding story of Zuzu’s journey of self-discovery.

The game’s narrative structure allows players to engage with the story at their own pace, encouraging exploration and discovery while ensuring that narrative progression remains fluid and seamless. Additionally, interactive elements such as dialogue, environmental clues, and puzzle-solving mechanics further enhance the immersive experience, offering players meaningful interactions that propel both exploration and narrative forward.

Through this careful balance, the developers aimed to create an experience that seamlessly intertwines exploration and storytelling, ensuring that players feel both empowered to discover and eager to uncover the mysteries of Skaramazuzu.

Anything else you would like to share with readers?

Adam: Skaramazuzu was truly a labor of love for our team, demanding countless hours of time, boundless passion, and unwavering creativity. Crafting every aspect of this project was an immensely enjoyable and rewarding experience, from conceptualizing its unique world to bringing it to life through art and storytelling.

The journey of creating Skaramazuzu has ignited our excitement for future game development endeavors, inspiring us to continue exploring new ideas and pushing creative boundaries. We’re deeply grateful to all the players and supporters who have joined us on this adventure, and we can’t wait to share more exciting experiences with you in the future.

Skaramazuzu is a surreal story-focused game, developed by Bleeding Moon Studio. The game was released on April 3, 2024 for PC. 

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