Stygian Tunnel Beast

Posted by
July 27th, 2009 12:13 am

Here’s my first entry into LD/mini-LD:

Image of Stygian Tunnel Beast

Play the game at:


I present to you:

Stygian Tunnel Beast!

Stygian Tunnel Best is a game where, as you might have guessed, the player is a Stygian tunnel beast. Don’t worry if you’ve not heard of them, I made them up. They’re sort of like the worms from tremors, except they live in the underworld, feed on souls, and are responsible for managing the complex netherworld ecosystem.

The game is built around a semi-sculptable world where the player has to interact with a regenerating set of creatures that live in the world. The player can’t die, but if you only have 1 point of energy left, you will be unable to move. This doesn’t mean you’re dead though, because if you’re lucky and not completely cut off from the rest of the map, a soul might wander into your mouth, giving you energy to move again. If you’re really truly stuck and don’t have enough energy to move, you’ll have to restart the game manually.

There also isn’t any way to win. You can carve up the environment, place tons of obelisks, hoard up energy, thralls, and mana, and occasionally a tough enemy will show up for you to kill, but beyond that there is no end to the game, or any given objectives.

How to play:

– Move around with the arrow keys.

– You can climb along walls and even ceilings, but not around in space.  (Note: Moving up along a wall costs 2 energy, and is slower.)

– The x button makes you eat any souls or thralls that happen to be near your mouth. Eating gives you energy. You can hold the button down and happily chow on an oncoming stream of souls.

– The number keys (1-7) select your powers.

– Press c to use the selected power.

– All actions require some energy to do, even moving.

– When you eat souls, you get a bonus 10 energy for each soul beyond the first you eat, so try to batch as many together as possible in 1 place before eating them.
– Mana is required by 2 of your abilities. To get it, you need to create thralls. Either keep your thralls alive and you will slowly gain maina, or eat your thralls for a quick boost.


Gameplay reference: Read more here


Tools used: Flixel, SFXR, WinLAME, FlashDevelop, GraphicsGale, GIMP


– You can get “stuck” in midair. I wanted to overhaul the player movement (and improve the animation), but didn’t have time. If this happens, you can try placing blocks and using them to reach dry land again.

– Souls on the right side of the map walk through the ground often. I have no idea why, but didn’t have time to really debug this. Partly because I like the middle area of the map more anyway..

– I’m sure there are more. In fact there are probably some things I just accept now that are actually bugs 😛

Things I havn’t tried doing in the game yet:

– Destroying/eating every destroyable block. I imagine it would be very difficult…

– Getting more than 200 concurrent thralls. I imagine the game will start slowing down at some point.

– Building a little undead city with a bunch of thralls and obelisks in it. (Wish I had time to expand the game in this direction.)

– make a colony of thralls using only golden souls

I’ll be uploading a dev timelapse later. Time to sleep :)

EDIT: timelapse can be found here:


8 Responses to “Stygian Tunnel Beast”

  1. PsySal says:

    Aha! I strongly liked this. I didn’t get far enough to where I understood how to collect energy/etc., but it was fun. What I loved:

    – Control scheme is fantastic, moving the worm around and the way he can stick to walls is excellent. Eating thru ground works well with this.
    – The overall theme is awesome.
    – Sound effects are great
    – I like the way the worms segmented body.

    I didn’t quite understand how to eat souls. I made some thralls/etc. but it didn’t seem to make very much sense to me. In the end i Just spit acid a bunch and then quit.

    I think all it’s missing is a bit more of direction to the player, some objectives, etc. Maybe it could play sort of like an objective-based RTS? Gradually introduce the worms powers through goals, like, the first goal would be to dig your way out of a pit and then spit acid on something. And future goals would introduce more powers.

    Fun concept, great execution!

  2. Gilvado says:

    Thought it was awesome, but too punishing on new players. I’m sure that once you have the controls and concepts down it isn’t too bad, but maybe you could put in difficulty settings, and have the easiest difficulty start with more energy and even some magic.

    Still, had a very awesome retro feel. Almost reminded me of magic carpet.

  3. increpare says:

    thralls? spitting acid? wow; i haven’t gotten too much into this at all it seems :)

    i did enjoy it; though the controls sometimes frustrated me (he’d stop moving and I’d have to figure out why). But whatever.

    i did like it; it was nice and rich and sandboxey, and i’ve evidently missed most of the fun stuff :)

  4. afterthought says:

    Yeah, difficulty settings had to be cut before the end, but I probably should’ve squeezed them in. I think I fell victim to playtesting too much :p

  5. matrin says:

    Loved it, would make a nice RPG story game. Did spend quite some time with it. :)

  6. HybridMind says:

    Awesome job. I had a lot of fun playing this. I played it twice. Once without reading too much of your post and I didn’t get very far as I couldn’t figure out how to create thralls or what they were. The second time I read your post and realized more of how your sandbox worked. I buried my thralls deep in the ground to give me more time to defend and harvest mana. I then placed my obelisks above ground to attack the soul stealers. I was just coasting along happily fighting off some of the more aggressive soul stealers when a huge winged halo appeared and started blasting the ground and my obelisks.. that was awesome! I hadn’t realized that there was more content waiting to appear and it made me appreciate the strange little world you crafted even more. This sandbox has reminded me about the fun potential of creating a world with various elements and agents and allowing the player to affect them. The emergent gameplay that appears can often be quite rewarding as well as hard to predict. I love the name too.

  7. jovoc says:

    Wow.. this is really epic. Lots of style, too. The name and art style is perfect, and it’s a great fit for the theme.

    This reeaaaly needs a tutorial. Your textfile gameplay reference helped a lot. This game really has a lot of depth (no pun intended).

    Nice job! I hope you’ll share the source.

  8. afterthought says:

    Source for those interested:

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