Inferno & Hysteria Special State Outlines v1

Hi all,

Alex here with some updates on special state outlines as we flesh out the Design Bible.

Here is our first take on building out the special states for Alice: Asylum.

The first is; Inferno (a brand new special state) and the second expands on Hysteria (from Madness Returns). 

The approach is that each end of the gameplay spectrum (success and failure) are rewarded for keeping you in the game by rewarding your playstyle. You choose one to aim for.

If you’re a gun and want to bank on consistent combat success, Inferno is for you.
If you’re playing it close to the knife edge and expect a death save will help, Hysteria is for you.

One or the other is selected.

Not both.

Let’s start with Inferno.

This special state was created as a necessity to reward skilled play.

In design discussions, one of the gripes we had discussed playing Madness Returns was that a player’s skill went unrewarded if they kicked butt in combat. 

You progressed, but if you were great at the game and didn’t suffer any damage, you could effectively run near the whole game without ever activating Hysteria, thereby missing one of Madness’s coolest and most iconic mechanics.

The rationale from the Design Bible is below;

Unlike Hysteria, where Alice triggers the state automatically when her health is low, Inferno is a “super meter” that builds by chaining large combo hits and defeating enemies in repeated, rapid succession. Inferno acts as a reward for highly skilled combat performance.

The Inferno Bar is sustained only through specific item pick-ups or increased successfully via continued, perfect combat execution.

Once the bar is full, Alice can trigger” the Inferno attack state whenever she chooses.

When triggered, a special high-damage fire-based burst attack is initiated, and then the Inferno bar will drain, allowing for a limited time Super State”. During this time, Alice has access to special buffs in combat and exploration for a short time.

Each time Alice is hit fails a dodge or doesn’t instigate a successful attack after a short amount of time, the Inferno Bar level will drop, and eventually, disappear if not used.”

Conceptually in action, Inferno has three phases.

1. Burst/Activation Attack – What happens when Alice triggers Inferno?
2. Passive/Limited Time – How is Alice affected as the meter runs out during Inferno?
3. Completion/Extinguish – Special state expires. Alice returns to normal.

In the spirit of accessibility and “playing your way” we’ve given you a combination choice for how Inferno phases could sync with your preferred playstyle.

On activation ([L1 + R1] button press or similar) A high-damage, fast, quick attack is unleashed. Options for Burst attacks are;

1A) Burst/Activation State: Hail of Fury

Unleash a rapid fire storm of flaming vorpal blades for a short duration in front of Alice. Long Ranged attack. Flaming vorpal blades explode on impact and can set foes alight. Can be aimed while in use, but not stopped.

1B) Burst/Activation State: Scorching Blade

The Vorpal Blade turns into a large, two-handed great-sword variant, and Alice quickly cuts a vertical slice ahead of her, then to the side in a wide arc, forming a flaming cross. Medium-range melee attack. Highly damaging, effective in 180 arc ahead of Alice. Cannot be aimed. Enemies catch alight and suffer DPS over time if not destroyed by the initial attack. Quick Burst attack in battle.

1C) Burst/Activation State: Firestorm

Alice erupts in fire and fury, sending a massive flame shockwave around her. A flaming crater forms around her, causing a large fire trap that damages any foe inside of it. Close Range burst attack. Extreme damage, but short range. AOE is 360 degrees with Alice at the center. Enemies catch alight and are knocked back by the blast.

Next up, we have the Passive States;

Once activated and the activation attack is completed, the super bar/meter will deplete, allowing for a short, limited time frame in which Alice’s abilities are buffed.  Options for Alice during this state are:
2A) Passive/Limited Time State: Speed Demon

Alice’s movement speed is significantly buffed, and all attacks are faster (Melee and Ranged attacks). While Alice moves, she leaves behind flaming trails that can damage foes or set them alight. Alice will not suffer any damage from these trails while Inferno is active.

2B) Passive/Limited Time State: Molten Steel

Alice’s vorpal blade bursts into flames, and all her standard attacks receive a significant buff in damage (x1.5) and all heavy attacks now cause an explosive knockdown effect. Causing smaller foes to explode when they are knocked down with strong attacks, or when they collide into other foes, or the ground. Each exploded foe leaves behind a small flaming crater, that can damage other enemies if they step inside them.

2C) Passive/Limited Time State: Phoenix

Alice sets alight, and her health constantly regenerates during the special state duration. If Alice suffers damage from attacks during this phase, her combo string is protected, and any bonuses will not be affected. Alice is not “invulnerable” during this stage, but her constantly recharging health improves survivability greatly.

DESIGN NOTE: Kills or large amounts of damage inflicted during these special states slightly recharge the depleting special/super bar, giving the player more time to use the ability.

Low health and near-death state of health required. (Approx~ Between 1%-20% of HP/health remaining). PRESS [L1 + R1] to Trigger Hysteria once the damage threshold is met. Super Completion State: After the Inferno special state is completed, and the super bar is empty, Alice will be “extinguished” and return to her normal appearance. All Inferno active buffs will cease until activated again. What would you run?

I’d be leaning towards some Scorching Blade with Molten Steel to deal some serious damage in a heavy combat scenario. Maybe if I were in Boss Combat, I’d unleash a Hail of Fury from a distance, then enjoy Phoenix as the time decreases, adding survivability during some intense boss fighting. Mix and match, play how you want.

Let us know if you enjoy this design approach.————On the other hand, Hysteria is, in effect, a death save. It keeps you in the game if you are near death, and can offer some flexibility if you are a player who enjoys high-risk, high-reward scenarios. We’ve kept true to the effect from Madness Returns, but added a few spicy new attacks for this iconic special state in Asylum. Hysteria – Activation State Requirement:

1. Scream

On activation ([L1 + R1] button press or similar) A high-damage, fast, AOE attack is unleashed. Alice will scream, and the game-world will turn black and white and skewed. Alice’s scream emits a shockwave ripple effect, that damages and knocks back all enemies it touches. If killed by the AOE wave, enemies will explode into meaty gibs. Shockwave travels a medium distance, with Alice at it’s centre point.

Once activated, the following special Hysteria buffs will activate for Alice.  • 2x Damage Buff on Melee All Attacks. Slicing melee attacks (vorpal blade) have a chance to cause evisceration, carving off limbs and foes into chunks. Heavy impact melee attacks (hobby horse) have a chance to cause obliteration, smashing foes into a fine red mist. All heavy attacks have “Guard Crush/Shield Break” properties.

• Limited Invulnerability / Health Regen For a few seconds after Hysteria is activated, Alice will be impervious to all attacks. This effect does not last for the full duration of the special state however, and Alice can be damaged once her Health Starts flashing again. If her health falls to 0% during Hysteria, she will die as usual.

The main purpose of Hysteria is for Alice to slay her foes. Her health will regenerate commensurate to her bloodshed. More Kills = More Health restored.

• Vorpal Blade Attack Buffs

Special Attack 1 – Dark Orbit Holding down the “Throwing Knife” attack button causes the Vorpal Blade to fracture, and create a rapidly swirling orbit of broken vorpal blades around Alice. This attack will cause massive damage if it connects with enemies. Once released, the blade orbit shoots off in all directions, before reforming as the blade in Alice’s hands once again.

Special Attack 2 – Jagged Edges Attacking with the Vorpal Blade in mid-air after jumping will cause Alice to spike her blade into the ground. In front of where she strikes the ground, massive, jagged Vorpal blades will spike out from the ground in front of her in a random arc, inflicting massive damage on all enemies the quake of blades connects with.


And that’s what we got so far. What do you think?

I think this is a fun discussion to have, and one we’d like your thoughts on.

As always, these outlines are purely conceptual, early, and 100% subject to change should development be greenlit or the mechanics on paper not align in-engine if developers and playtesters one day work their magic.

However, we feel these are interesting discussions and a good direction to start with by outlining them in the Design Bible. Drop your feedback and comments below.

More to come, cheers!


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