Last year, when Daily Magic Productions released Sable Maze: 12 Fears, I met with the team and asked them about their own deepest fears. This year, now that Sable Maze: Soul Catcher is ready for release, I visited again, but the whole team was busy working on a new top-secret project! Thankfully, one of their American artists was available to chat and give us a behind-the-scenes look at this unique series!
The first Sable Maze game took place at a long-abandoned summer camp which the player character had attended in their youth. The next few Sable Maze games took the player around the world, exploring more massive secret mazes. However, this left the dangling story threads of Sullivan River largely unexplored, which inspired the team to make a return to Sullivan River for Sable Maze: Soul Catcher.
How did Daily Magic come up with the initial idea for Sullivan River? Daily Magic says it’s all thanks to their love for urban legends. The artist I met with actually had a lot of experience with urban legends and summer camps, being a former Boy Scout himself!
Urban Legends are prevalent throughout the world, unique to each culture. Mexico has “El Chupacabra” a vampiric creature that feeds on livestock. Japan is famous for its “yokai,” magical creatures and spirits which have inspired popular video games like Pokémon, Digimon, and Yo-Kai Watch. Many urban legends have ancient roots that have been given modern twists. Germany, for example, was famous for the historical tale of “Der Großmann,” or “The Tall Man,” which recently evolved into the viral internet-sensation “Slenderman.”
But in the whole world, there’s nowhere else that people believe more fervently in monsters than the USA. Not only are there hundreds of movies about such legends as “The Jersey Devil” of New Jersey, the red-eyed “Moth Man” of Virginia, and the sickening “Flatwoods Monster” of West Virginia, but the legends surrounding “Bigfoot” the sasquatch have become so prevalent in North American culture that there are multiple reality TV shows and entire societies dedicated to proving that these hairy humanoid creatures really exist.
Though these strange cryptid monsters dominate modern American folklore, the stories told around summer campfires are even more unique, often evolving as each tale is spread further and further from coast to coast.
The artist I spoke to told me his favorite tale, “The Tale of Purgatory Pass,” a legend that actually led to the creation of Sable Maze: Soul Catcher. Many Boy Scout troops across the US tell different variations on this tale, but they all share the same core:
Legend has it, if you enter a forest at exactly 3:33a.m., you’ll hear a voice calling to you. If you follow this voice, you’ll eventually see a pitch-black void stretching between two trees. At this point, the voice will call your name loudly from that void. If you choose to enter the void, it will take you to Purgatory, the world between life and death. The evil spirits trapped there will possess your body and use it to escape Purgatory. You’ll eventually wake up outside the forest many days, months, or even years later – depending on how many spirits used your body! This urban legend is based on real stories of people who vanished in the woods only to return many years later without any memory of what happened to them.
Sable Maze: Soul Catcher builds on this legend, adding a backstory and tying it into the established Sable Maze lore. The surprise twist in the game (which we swore we wouldn’t reveal!) dictated many of the stylistic choices and locations Daily Magic chose, but they added many new elements to make the atmosphere fresh and exciting! They also took to heart the comments and critiques fans had posted over the last few years to make sure they were pushing the boundaries for this new game.