Those Coded Lunatics
Based in Scotland
The Man Called Merc is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up, where players control the titular Merc, a mysterious and deadly man-for-hire, as he fights his way through hordes of cybernetic monstrosities in the fictional Talgore City. Usually found on an assassination mission, or an intricately plotted bank robbery, the Merc has had a slow month of few job opportunities, and is currently working as a part-time nightclub bouncer. One non-descript night, and without reason, all hell breaks loose as the city suddenly erupts into chaos as legions of cyborg and mechanical killing machines begin destroying everything in their path. The Merc kicks into action, and begins his unexpected journey across the city to learn the origin of this chaos. Taking inspiration from classic beat ‘em up and hack and slash games like Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and Final Fight, players can use the Merc’s array of abilities and weaponry to cut and blast his way through everything programmed to kill him. Like these classic games, players move around levels freely in a 2D fashion, as enemies attack from the front and rear. The Merc can use his sword for close-quarters combat, and his gun for long-range attacks, keeping a safe distance between him and danger. After reaching the end of a level, the Merc must face off against a boss. The Merc can make use of nyon, a powerful energy source that the futuristic city of Talgore City uses. It comes in three varieties: green, blue, and red. Green nyon helps restore the Merc’s health, which, if already full, can be stored and collected for later use as an automated reviving ability should he perish -- you get one life in this game, so must make use of green nyon to save you from the game ending; blue nyon allows the Merc to charge his weaponry before striking to beef up their damage and effects considerably; red nyon gives the Merc fantastic agility, allowing him to dash across the level to escape danger, or land sneak strikes to unexpected enemies. The game’s visuals are stylised in a noir graphic novel style, making use of a black and white art style, with the only colours being emitted from the nyon energy found throughout the city. Keeping with the art style, the game’s story is also told in graphic novel fashion between levels, slowly unfurling the mystery.
The Man Called Merc began its life as a 48-hour game jam project. Ourselves and two other developers took part in The Global Game Jam 2017, where we had to, from scratch, create a game using the word ‘wave’ as its theme. We quickly thought up the idea of consistently defeating wave after wave of enemies -- who doesn’t enjoy that -- and looked briefly at what genres or types of games we’d played in the past that would suit this style. Immediately, the hack and slash and beat ‘em ups of old sprung to mind -- Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Double Dragon, Final Fight, they all had one thing in common, and that was destroying everything in your path, even as that path filled up with more and more baddies, and having a blast whilst dishing out the carnage. The art style was introduced mainly due to the time constraints of the project; a lot can get done in 48 hours, but, as other game developers can attest to, even pushing yourself to your limits cannot produce any considerable results in that space of time. Thus, a simple black-and-white, hand drawn art style was chosen, reminiscent of noir graphic novels from Frank Millar, Alan Moore, and Robert Kirkman. 48 hours of blood, sweat, tears later, the then titled Here They Come was finished, and available for play for the co-developers around us. We were given substantial praise from our peers, with positive comments gearing towards its stylistic art style, and fun gameplay. After the game jam, and during our continued development of our game Algorithm S3: Star System Sabotage, we still had Here They Come fresh in our minds; we decided to put the current game on hold and see what we could do with the small section of the world we had created in those two days. And here we are, now, with a demo of the newly titled The Man Called Merc, with gameplay, visuals, and sound design far exceeding what we now call the prototype.
- Classic beat ‘em up gameplay: slash and shoot your way through wave after wave of enemies.
- Mix and match close-quarters combat with long-range shooting, using the Merc’s sword and gun expertise.
- Collect power-ups known as nyon to restore health, boost attacks, and increase mobility. Make use and combine all of their features to leave no enemy left standing.
- Taking inspiration from noir graphic novels, the visuals and story play out in a stylistic black and white, comic book fashion, that gives unique and quirky character, enemy, and environment design.
- Four levels of difficulty, and a horde of unlockable modes, giving players more reason to master each level.
Demo Trailer YouTube
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About Those Coded Lunatics
Those Coded Lunatics is a video game development company based in Scotland, United Kingdom. Currently developing our first game The Man Called Merc.
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The Man Called Merc Credits
Mike J. Black
Artist, Those Coded Lunatics
Aaron A. Simpson
Programmer, Those Coded Lunatics