An ex-Bethesda developer that worked on multiple Fallout games, Skyrim, and the upcoming space RPG game Starfield has talked to us about their upcoming folklore-inspired horror hunting game The Axis Unseen, which he started developing after leaving Bethesda.
Developed by Nate Purkeypile, who left Bethesda in 2021 after being an artist there for 14 years, The Axis Unseen is an FPS open-world game where you use an elemental bow and arrow to help explore and hunt down monsters from our world’s vast folklore. The twist is, they hunt you back.
“I just finished another big chunk of work, which is, the full map now exists. It’s five times the size of Skyrim,” Purkeypile tells us. “Because it’s focused on wilderness, you need a lot of space to be able to go around. It’s not about exploring dungeons and stuff. So it has six different regions that all look different and have their own weather and lighting and creatures. And that’s what I’m moving on to next, building up the rest of the creatures.”
In the world of The Axis Unseen you’ll be coming up against folklore monsters from across the world, and Purkeypile says the idea for this came from how he grew up near a forest, reading horror, and playing hunting sims. “I think [hunting simulators are] a fascinating genre where the combat is really in-depth, and it’s all about wind direction and following tracks. But then if something notices us like, oh, the deer just runs away. What if there were monsters instead, and you [still] have those in-depth mechanics.”
All of the folklore monsters from across the world come from one place in The Axis Unseen, spilling out into our world from there. Purkeypile says that the idea of all folklore coming from one place and this leading to different interpretations and myths then felt like a natural way to bring them together into the game’s open-world.
“Why are so many of these myths really similar? There’s all these different, like, Sasquatch myths across the world? Why is that?” asks Purkeypile. “That kind of just led me to this sort of inevitable pitch of, what if there’s this world outside of our own, where there’s these creatures, and they sometimes leak out into our world, and that’s why they’re the same, it’s because they’re from this place.”
You’ll be using a bow and arrow to defend yourself in The Axis Unseen, with elemental arrows at your disposal that are effective against some folklore, and weak to others. Here’s where it gets especially intriguing though, as the elements can be combined with the world for varying results. You can create gusts of wind to propel yourself up cliff faces for example, which Purkeypile says is “like a rocket jumping, but with a bow.”
Purkeypile didn’t give us a release window for The Axis Unseen, but he did say that development has been going along incredibly smoothly and that his targets are being met in advance. So if all goes according to his current speed, we could have The Axis Unseen in our hands sooner than expected.
You can check out and wishlist The Axis Unseen on Steam.
We also talked to Purkeypile in a Starfield interview, where he talked about what development on the project was like while he was at Bethesda, how the game approaches scale, and what the team had to do when creating an entirely new universe.