The Anacrusis Officially Announced: Former Valve Writer Chet Faliszek Reveals Left 4 Dead-Style Co-op Shooter
Four years after his departure from Valve, writer Chet Faliszek unveiled his new studio’s first game at Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest event today. Titled Anacrusis, it is a four player co-op shooter with a strong retro future aesthetic. It bears a particular resemblance to Left 4 Dead, which Faliszek also worked on.
Set in a “far, far future” in which aliens have invaded, Anacrusis will feature four ordinary people who are forced to fight back with pulse rifles, stasis grenades, and other tools. Taking a page from Left 4 Dead, Anacrusis will feature a much more powerful version of The Director, with its version being capable of placing every item, weapon, and creature. It will also be an episodic adventure, with each release telling a new part of the story.
Anacrusis marks Faliszek’s return to active development after a four year walkabout that saw him depart Valve, where he worked on Half-Life and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, then briefly surface at Boss Studios. In 2019, Faliszek founded Stray Bombay Company alongside former Riot Games designer Kim Voll, their intention being to create a replayable multiplayer game that could double as a positive social space — an attempt to push back against the often toxic atmosphere that has defined League of Legends and games like it.
“[Voll] was like, let’s do this. […] Let’s make games that are about connecting people in a positive way, in a positive atmosphere,” Faliszek says. “We’re fighting aliens but were still uplifting, we’re still positive. The characters are still pulling together.”
While the studio is funded in part by Riot, Stray Bombay has remained lean. The bulk of Anacrusis was made with less than 12 people, Faliszek says. With release just a few months away, the studio is now up to around 21 people.
The Anacrusis is a fresh start
It’s a fresh start of sorts for Faliszek, but while we’ve yet to play Anacrusis, its trailer betrays an unmistakably Valve aesthetic and sense of humor. The dialogue is snappy and smart, and as with Half-Life, Faliszek is leaning away from cutscenes to promote a more organic flow to the storytelling. All of that is on top of Anacrusis’ strong resemblance to Left 4 Dead.
Where Stray Bombay hopes to differentiate Anacrusis is in accessibility and replayability. The latter will be fostered by Anacrusis’ version of The Director, which will serve to vary up runs and could even lead to a weekly challenge mode. As for the former, Anacrusis will be built around unlockable perks that will encourage customization, but if one player has played for 400 hours and has every perk in the game, everyone will benefit.
“We want people to have fun with their friends and not just lord over them the items that they don’t have,” Faliszek says.
Asked whether Anacrusis will have unlockable cosmetic items, Faliszek says that he loves the 60s and 70s space aesthetic Stray Bombay is trying to capture, but that cosmetics are still a work in progress. He does say that players will have challenges to keep them engaged.
Anacrusis will be an Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One console exclusive, and will feature cross-play with the PC version, which will be available on Steam and Epic Game Store. Faliszek also calls himself a fan of Game Pass, and Anacrusis will be launching on the service.
“I wish we just give the game away for free to everybody and not worry about making money,” Faliszek says. “I think Game Pass is an amazing deal. I’ve been a member of Game Pass almost since day one. That’s one of the ways of just getting it out there and connecting, and then we’ll have cross-play with PC. […] It was just about connecting all of those for us as a good starting point.”
Stray Bombay hasn’t set plans for a beta or a technical alpha, but Faliszek says that Anacrusis will be out this fall, so its release isn’t that far off. Once it’s out, Stray Bombay will continue to support it with new episodes and other content.
“One of the great things about Game Pass is people can just jump in and try it and if they like it stick around,” Faliszek says. “So we’ll release this fall with some amount of content and just keep building from there.”
This reveal is part of the Summer of Gaming, which is happening all this month. Make sure to keep an eye on IGN’s E3 2021 coverage for more major announcements.