We covered Crow Country a number of weeks ago on the podcast (Ep: 221) and thought it was a fantastic throwback to the Playstation era and the wealth of classic survival horror games that came out at the time. So Bradley sat down with SFB Games to find out more about them and their game Crow Country.

Credit: Gamespot

Can you tell us a bit about SFB Games?

SFB Games is a games company comprised of myself (Adam Vian, creative director) and my brother (Tom Vian, technical director).

Tom and I have been making games together for over 20 years!

We got started making Flash games for browsers back in the early 2000s.

These days we often make games in small teams of around 4 or 5 people, such as Tangle Tower (a detective adventure game) or Snipperclips (a co-op puzzle game)

Crow Country was unusual in that I largely made it by myself, before Tom came on board to help with all kinds of technical work to get it ready for release.

What was the influence for Crow Country?

Mostly Playstation 1 games, such as the original Resident Evil games, Silent Hill, Dino Crisis, Parasite Eve… and so on.

I was also inspired by Final Fantasy VII, which isn’t a horror game, but I definitely took some inspiration from its aesthetic.

Why specifically PS1 era?

It’s my favourite era, since it’s what I played when I was a kid. And for several years now, collecting and playing PS1 games has been a hobby of mine. I’ve played all kinds of PS1 games – the good and the bad, the well-known and the obscure.

Are there any easter eggs to look out for?

I’m not quite sure what to define as an easter egg… the game is full of hidden secrets though, and you’re definitely rewarded for examining the environments carefully. I don’t really like making direct references to other games in my work, even if they’re hidden, as I find it cheapens them slightly, and ages them.

How long do you expect the game to take to play?

We think an average player is going to spend around 8 hours on their first playthrough. It’ll vary quite a bit from person to person, though.

Crow Country is Steam Deck verified, was that something you were targeting?

Yeah, for sure. Crow Country looks great on a smaller screen – and the Steam Deck is also perfect for playing with headphones in the dark!

How challenging has it been to keep the nostalgic feel, but make sure you got the right QoL updates?

It’s a balancing act, but mostly I’ve just been trying to make something that feels good to me – something that I myself would want to play. That’s really the only metric that I measured Crow Country by during development.

I did change my mind on the tank controls issues though – Crow Country originally only had tank controls (like the original Resident Evil), and I grudgingly added modern controls part-way into development, due to some feedback. I’m really glad I did though, and now I use them myself.

Is there anything you had to unfortunately leave on the cutting room floor?

A few things. There used to be a secret unlockable ‘RPG Mode’ that displayed on-screen health bars and damage numbers for the player character and the enemies. It was just a joke, really. I was only sad to see it go because there was some funny dialogue involved in the process of unlocking it.

I really wanted to add one more gun to the game, a bolt-action rifle kind of thing, but I didn’t leave room for it. Next time!

(if yes) Are they things you would look at bringing in to whatever comes next?

Yeah, I have a whole laundry list of features that didn’t make it into Crow Country that I want to hit next time. Here are just a few:

1. A pursuer enemy that follows you around (Like a Nemesis or Mr X kind of thing)

2. Ammo/health items crafting (A great way to add lots of strategic decision making)

3. A money/treasure system (to give the player more stuff to find and pick up)

4. Magic item boxes to store items you don’t have room for… that whole system is kind of fun, but it wasn’t a good fit for Crow Country.

On that… What is next for SFB?

We’re working on The Mermaid Mask, a mystery detective adventure game that’s a follow-up to 2019’s Tangle Tower.

Aside from that… I want to make more horror games, more colourful co-op puzzle games… and I have some game ideas that don’t fit into any genres!

Crow Country is available now on Steam with a free demo.

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