If you’ve ever watched a family pet succumb to disease or age, you know it can be an exceptionally painful moment. That’s why the developers behind upcoming dog-sledding game The Red Lantern are going to allow players to disable deaths entirely.
The Red Lantern, available on Switch and the Epic Games Store on October 22, is the first project from the industry veterans at Timberline Studio. The game is described as a “story-driven rogue-lite” that’s all about surviving in the Alaskan wilderness with your dog-sledding team. It looks incredible.
As you might have realised thanks to the sickening crunch of a bear’s jaws at the end of the reveal trailer, it’s possible for dogs in The Red Lantern to be injured and even die. It’s a survival game, after all, which presumably means you’ll need to tend to the needs of your canine pack as much as your own if you’re all going to get back home. But following the release date reveal this morning, designer Nathaniel Chapman let potential players know certain options will allow them to avoid this scenario.
“[E]veryone at Timberline Studio is super sensitive to people’s concerns on that issue,” Chapman wrote on Twitter. “I’m happy to say we have an option that disables the ability for dogs to die in the game. We understand that these things can be deeply personally painful for people and didn’t want that to keep people from being able to enjoy the game.”
That doesn’t mean The Red Lantern players will be able to sled willy-nilly into bear dens. Even with deaths disabled, dogs can still get hurt, and Chapman explained there will still be “gameplay repercussions” for injuries.
While not entirely similar, this option reminds me of Obsidian’s approach to the giant spiders in Grounded. Players with arachnophobia are able to transform the eight-legged freaks into something more palatable by way of a slider in the options menu. The slider ranges from the spiders we all know and love to just floating blobs that barely resemble the creepy crawlies. It’s a different kind of accessibility, but one folks were happy to see implemented.
“If you choose to play with the option off, we do feel we handle the possibility of death with compassion and empathy towards the dogs and the characters in the game,” Chapman said.