Ben Cousins sheds more light on DeNA’s The Drowning

As the release for the horror first-person shooter The Drowning nears, Scattered Entertainment general manager Ben Cousins filled us in on even more details about DeNA’s highly-anticipated FPS.

Cousins showed Inside Mobile Apps a brief demo of the game starting with the tutorial, where users are taught the gesture-based controls by showing them on-screen prompts in the form of arrows to swipe left or right to look left and right as well as showing two dots on the screen that demonstrate how to aim and shoot baddies.

In the attack mode, which we reported on back in February, there’s a bar at the top-middle of the screen that indicates a player’s Frenzy Mode level. In Frenzy Mode, users can rack up more points for killing baddies, but it only lasts for a certain amount of time. Users can build up Frenzy by landing headshots, pistol whipping enemies and more.

There are two types of modes per level in the game: Attack and Defend. In the Defend mode, users are tasked with defending a certain spot, making sure strategically-placed barriers don’t get destroyed by enemies. Icons for each barrier are represented at the top of the screen, so when a barrier is being attacked, the user can tap the icon for the barrier in danger to make their character face that particular barrier.

The Drowning also features an energy mechanic in the form of gas, a typical mobile-social game mechanic that’s present in all DeNA games. Cousins adds that energy is not used as a monetization mechanic, but more as method to measure game sessions, so players don’t blow through the game by playing for 10 straight hours, for example.

“What we found is that if players rinse through half of the content in one play session, they are less likely to come back and finish the game,” Cousins says. “If you act like a bartender and say you’ve had enough drinks for tonight, people play for longer if you put something in place to control the game sessions.”

Cousins also elaborates on Charlotte’s junkyard, an area behind her workshop where users can spend real money for a chance to scavenge the area that’s filled rare items. Again, what item a user gets is random, but Cousins says if its an item a player doesn’t want, they can trade that item in for parts to heavily upgrade any of their existing weapons. The same works for all spare parts, users can give those parts to Charlotte to upgrade existing guns. In The Drowning, users can recognize the rarity of guns based on the text color for gun names, a similar practice seen in games like World of Warcraft and Diablo. Essentially, The Drowning is as much about the story as it’s about collecting, upgrading and customizing an arsenal of guns. Users can also purchase special items such as a cellphone, talking doll and a bomb to aid in combat. For example, the talking doll acts a distraction tactic, allowing the user to rack up a high score by killing a lot of enemies at once.

“There’s going to be a certain sort of player who just wants to collect, a player that’s just interested in the story and a player who’s just wants to be entertained,” he says. “We try to fulfill all of those different player types.”

Cousins, who previously told us that DeNA’s RPG card game Blood Brothers had a lot of influence on The Drowning, adds that people from DeNA’s Tokyo office were key in helping his team figure out the free-to-play model and were deeply involved in providing guidance for the design of the game.

“The Drowning is innovative in lots of ways with visuals, controls and play sessions,” Cousins says. “But behind this all, there’s a lot of smart DeNA-influenced work there. We see this as a melding of a Blood Brothers and Modern Combat 3.”

The Drowning, Cousins adds, takes Japanese gameplay mechanics such as those seen in gacha-fusion games like Rage of Bahamut, Blood Brothers, Hellfire, Fantasica and GungHo’s Puzzle and Dragons, which is tearing it up in the Japanese market right now. Essentially, a gacha-fusion game involves some sort of collecting like cards (in the case of the games mentioned) as well as a randomized element to collecting — the gacha part. The fusion part is when a game allows users to fuse things together, such as cards, to make new cards or using unused cards to level up other cards. Cousins says DeNA Tokyo took those gacha-fusion mechanics and westernized it for The Drowning.

Cousins tells us The Drowning is in the bug-fixing phase, and will only go as far as saying the title is “coming soon” for iOS and later in the year for Android.