Just three steps away is the pedestal that houses my prize: a jar of genetic material that I can use to feed the strange mutant that keeps my base up and safe in the barren wastelands. The journey to reach this point was bloody and difficult, but at last I have overcome all trials and outwitted the devil who built this hideous labyrinth. I allow myself a smile of satisfaction as I step forward to grab the material – quickly realizing how naive I was. The false walls disappear, hidden monsters spring into action, and as an added, final insult, a flurry of bombs pops into view and sends my lifeless body into the abyss.
A brutal, crushing end. I can’t wait to do it again.
This is Meet your maker from Death in daylight is developing Behavior Interactive, a new asynchronous multiplayer game that is similar Super Mario Maker, but with murder. I had a chance to go hands-on with Meet your maker ahead of the big Game Awards reveal and came away excited about the clever spin on the building genre and intuitive methods for teaching players how to improve.
Meet your maker puts you in a post-apocalyptic future on a fancy space base run by The Chimera. This terrifying little creature housed in a test tube keeps the lights on in your base and helps you stay alive, but you have to feed it genetic material, and you can only get it from mazes and death traps that other players have built over the entire galaxy.
You have two choices. You can raid other players’ bases for genetic material and hopefully bring it back to life to upgrade your loadout, or you can build your own bases to confuse and destroy anyone who dares to enter it in hopes of stealing your genetic material . (If they succeed, you lose nothing unless you crank up the difficulty to the highest level).
Meet your maker creative director Ash Pannell walked me through the basics of raiding starting with an entry-level creation. The first thing that struck me about it was bombs. I mean literally – bombs hit me right in the face. When I resumed, others struck me how intuitive Meet your makerits learning process is. That first disaster taught me a handful of important lessons in a matter of seconds, and not just about how to avoid getting blown up. Subtle environmental clues and layout design help you point out traps – or trick you into thinking you know where the danger is before the real trap springs – and provide inspiration for how to design your own base.
The first race ended successfully. The second, more difficult base threw monsters at me instead of bombs, which led to a quick loadout swap where I added a handy shield to my arsenal. Bad timing with the shield led to quick deaths for Ash and myself, but eventually we pulled through and even managed to survive the extra sneaky traps that trigger after you take hold of the genetic material.
Now it was time to build a base of our own. The preview of Meet your maker the behavior shared had all available blocks, traps and monsters unlocked – usually you acquire these when you upgrade your base. I tend to spend time planning first before placing the first block in building games, so to save everyone the pain of sitting still and thinking, I watched Ash bring an elaborate yet simple death tower to life with just a handful of tools.
One of Meet your makerThe biggest strength is how uncomplicated the basic tools are. With just a few block types, a few monsters, and a handful of traps, you can transform even a basic layout into a mind-blowing maze. The only requirement is that the logging robot must have an unblocked path to the genetic material, although you can change the path during the construction process, redirect it to a pool of plasma blocks, steer raiders into spike pits, and so on.
Ash created an open chamber with strategically placed bombardier enemies whose projectiles could cover the entire room and planted some bomb traps in corners that were hard to spot. It might sound unfair, but Meet your makerthe hazards only trigger when you see them. You won’t have a monster attack until you get into line of sight, and traps won’t trigger unless they actually get into your line of sight – but whether you spot them in time is another matter.
While Ash activated some mods on the existing traps and monsters to make them even more unpredictable, I chipped in a bit and hid a few spike traps and a melee monster in a newly created underground area that we decided to force raiders into first. Block styles and decals give you a variety of subtle ways to direct a raider’s attention where you want it to go. Alternate textures can give the impression of a safer route, while a light over an entryway is almost guaranteed to lure raiders in.
Once everything was in place, the next step was to watch as other team members – confined to another phone room during the build process – tackled our creation. Behavior allows you to view raids from multiple perspectives, including third-person and through the eyes of one of the raiders, to provide feedback on how players interact with your creation. While we thought the base design seemed watertight, the raiders immediately noticed something we overlooked – a hole in the design that would have allowed them to bypass some of our traps if they hadn’t been charitable enough to follow the intended path.
Of course, other raiders won’t be so generous, and that’s how you learn to build better bases. Replays and skull markers let you see which traps worked, where you can improve, and how you can strengthen your defenses. Raiders can give endorsements based on how brutal, funny or brilliant your base was, and Meet your maker uses these to determine which bases will rise to the top of the selection list. The goal is to avoid a situation that Super Mario Makerwhere the same handful of popular scenes stay on top forever, so no base lasts more than a month or so before it disappears and you have to rebuild.
The freedom to create and experiment and the valuable feedback you get just from playing the game itself give this brutal builder a much lower barrier to entry than you might expect. I went into the preview intrigued and much more eager to try my hand at building more bases than I expected. Luckily for me, I don’t have long to wait. Meet your maker launches on PlayStation, Xbox and PC via Steam on April 4, 2023.
Written by Josh Broadwell on behalf of GLHF