A first look at papercraft puzzler Paper Cut Mansion

Space Lizard Studio reveal all in this promotional feature.

Paper Cut Mansion is an upcoming, procedurally generated roguelike adventure set in a cardboard universe. It’s safe to say that cardboard is an unusual choice of aesthetic. This room-based puzzler will appeal to fans of quirky horror suspense, mystery and tension, as well as anyone who likes to solve riddles. But why cardboard?

“My colleagues and I were in a transition phase after launching Dragon Bros for Xbox One, and during that time I was moving home and was surrounded by cardboard boxes,” says Gabriele Caruso of Space Lizard Studio. “The emptiness of the new house, and being surrounded by cardboard boxes, made me think that being alone with them was one of the most terrifying things. It was like a maze. This is how we came up with the concept, the fear of the darkness of the unknown in a cardboardish atmosphere.”

Paper Cut Mansion screenshot

The inspiration for Paper Cut Mansion is an amalgamation of visuals, sounds and gameplay from various media. The stop-motion creepiness of A Nightmare Before Christmas; the crazy music feel of the horror soundtracks of Danny Elfman; the character loneliness of Limbo and Five Nights at Freddy’s; the fear of getting lost in a maze like in Dungeon of the Endless, and the beautiful frustration you feel when you die in Don’t Starve – they all come together in Paper Cut Mansion, creating a composite of enthralling visuals and audio with addictive gameplay.

Cardboard perhaps isn’t the easiest medium to recreate in a beautiful manner. But Space Lizard Studio have taken pains to craft character models and furniture to look exactly as though they were expertly hand-crafted and painted. Caruso quotes Michelangelo when speaking about his inspiration for beauty in Paper Cut Mansion: “Every piece of cardboard has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I saw the angel in the cardboard and carved until I set him free.”

Paper Cut Mansion model

Part of the reason why the visuals in Paper Cut Mansion look so true to cardboard life is that some of the models are actually crafted with real cardboard. “It’s important that we don’t refine the cardboard models,” Caruso explains. “We want to keep the errors and stains of the graphite, and we don’t refine them at all when scanning and transferring to a 3D model.”

So what do you actually do in Paper Cut Mansion? You’re compelled to escape from the cardboard mansion imprisoning you, by solving a series of riddles and puzzles and trying to survive the terror caused by the fearsome monsters who haunt the house. “You start in one little room as a dude who was once human but then turned into a paper doll via some sort of crazy ritual,” says Caruso. “You can’t see into the next rooms unless you open the door, but once you do, something mysterious happens somewhere in the mansion… though I can’t tell you what. You won’t sleep!”

Paper Cut Mansion screenshot

In order to progress through the game and into new rooms, you’ll find some are locked. In these instances, you’ll be required to solve a puzzle, such as finding a code, or playing a series of musical notes. “In order to solve puzzles you’ll have to search the furniture in each room to find clues or other items, but you may also find dark creatures hiding there,” Caruso explains. “As the monsters are, of course, made from cardboard, they can fold themselves up and fit into unexpected places.” You might be searching a bedside table for a clue, for example, and suddenly a little paper ball unfolds and reveals that it is in fact a cardboard demon.

Monsters in Paper Cut Mansion aren’t physically dangerous – you’re a cardboard doll who feels no pain, after all – but they’re designed for your character to be terrified to look at. If your terror level gets too high, you could die from a heart attack, and death in Paper Cut Mansion is permanent. There are ways of defeating monsters, but you’ll have to play to figure out how. “In the future, we dream of being able to give the player a real sense of fear and restlessness while trying to find their way out of the mansion,” Caruso says. “We want to implement an AI that will surprise you with emergent behaviours that will reward the player acting with finesse, rather than brute force.”

If you can survive long enough to explore the mansion, you’ll find that there are several levels, and each one randomly generates a new floor of the mansion with different rooms, threats and mechanics. The procedural generation system is part of what makes Paper Cut Mansion special. “We’ve laid solid foundations for the game, including a flexible procedural algorithm for the mansion generation, a support for all the enigmas we can think of, and a toll to manage interactive furniture and a robust spawning system,” says Caruso.

The developers plan to keep refining the base mechanics and to keep adding tons of extra content to the game. In order to implement all of their ideas into the game, Space Lizard Studio have decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign, which is planned for Spring this year. “A lot of people from the gaming community have loved what we’ve done so far,” says Caruso.  “We believe in this project and we have a lot of ideas, but we need funds to implement those as a lot of work is needed before Paper Cut Mansion can be complete.”

For more information on Paper Cut Mansion, visit the Space Lizard Studio website.

This is a promotional feature sponsored by Space Lizard Studio. What does that mean? Find out here…