A Nintendo-Friendly Studio Takes Their Next Game To Xbox (But Isn’t Exactly Done With Nintendo)

Image: Thunderful
Image: Thunderful

The recent debut of a game called The Gunk during a late July showcase of next-gen Xbox games wasn’t an obvious stunner. But, if you’ve been paying close attention to indie games on the Nintendo Switch, it was a surprise.

The Gunk is a third-person action game featuring a pair of explorers who discover a planet covered in seemingly sentient goo. It comes from Thunderful, the Swedish development group that includes Image & Form, a 25-person team that has spent the last several years churning out games in the SteamWorld series, all known for their distinct gameplay focuses (on digging, on side-scrolling tactical battles, etc), and all released first for the Nintendo platforms.

This next game, however, is coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC, and is currently planned for September 2021.

The game had originally been planned for multiple platforms but Thunderful CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson told Kotaku over email that streamlining development and working on more powerful hardware — at least compared to the Switch — would make things easier for the game’s 25-person team.

The Gunk is a game that is technically very demanding, and the team is, as you know, brilliant but fairly small. We’re doing 3D for the first time, using a commercial game engine for the first time, and the gunk itself, the way we want it to work, is quite heavy.” He described the titular gunk as “behaving pretty cleverly — shifting into things and having something akin to a mind, reacting to the player and the environment.” It certainly sounds like a game that would benefit from more powerful tech, even if that shift to Xbox isn’t entirely next-gen. The Gunk is announced for both Xbox One and Xbox Series X, after all.

During their recent Xbox showcase, Micrsosoft featured The Gunk as one of several externally-developed console launch exclusives. That naturally indicates the platform-holder made a financial deal to get the game, but this is not an industry in which anyone rushes to share numbers. Sigurgeirsson said his team’s arrangement with Microsoft is classified.

And what of the SteamWorld series and the platform with which Image & Form was so tightly linked? “SteamWorld is indeed closely associated with Nintendo,” Sigurgeirsson said. “And we certainly haven’t made our last SteamWorld game. Nintendo Switch (and future Nintendo consoles) are natural parts of those plans.”

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