Dampened Spirits

Genre: Side-scroller with narrative cutscenes
Engine: Unity
Team size: 4
My roles: Writer, coder, and integrator
Development time: 2 weeks

Created for Narrative Driven Jam 3, June/July 2021.
Theme: A dark and stormy night
Optional sub-themes: Antagonist in mourning, rhyming dialogue, Astronaut and Jolly (a cameo by the jam mascots)
Ranking: 2nd overall out of 18 submissions

Play on itch.io
Download the game script

Mark shielding himself from the rain by angling his umbrella.
The owner of the local garage confronts Mark about the past and his rivalry with Brandon.
Mark can use the box to reach the fire escape ladder and navigate around the wreck.

Storytelling and Design

Dampened Spirits is a side-scrolling game with some light puzzle elements. As Mark, the player’s goal is to make it across town to his rival Brandon’s funeral. Mark is afraid of storms, though, and getting wet hurts him.

Along the way, Mark encounters people from his past who confront him about the consequences of his rivalry with Brandon. These scenes play out in visual novel style and give the player the option of being bitter or remorseful about Mark’s actions.

I wrote the game script, including branching dialogue and three possible endings.

We initially wanted the player choices in narrative scenes to make power-ups or different paths available in gameplay, but these ideas had to be abandoned. Instead, the choices only affect the amount of damage the player takes from the rain.

“Good” choices make the game more difficult, while “bad” choices have no effect. This was done in an attempt to communicate the message “redemption is the harder path.” However, the difficulty change was so subtle that few players noticed. We experimented with a steeper difficulty curve, but it made the game unfair and frustrating.


As the team’s developer/integrator, I did the following:

  • Set up the project in Unity and created a repository on GitHub.
  • Coded all the game logic, including menus, player behavior, environments, and narrative scenes.
  • Integrated art, music, and sound effects.
  • Assisted with level design and layout.

Lessons Learned

This was my first project in Unity that wasn’t a tutorial, so I learned a lot about testing, building, and deploying the game. In particular, I learned that testing within Unity’s UI is not sufficient to catch all possible errors.