The Void is a first-person adventure game developed by Ice-Pick Lodge. It has had multiple releases since its original in Russia and Poland in April 2008. It was released in English-speaking countries in October 2009, and became available on Steam in December 2009.
The game is set in the Void, a place akin to purgatory, where Colour is the most valuable resource. Colour sustains life and affects everything. However, Colour is scarce, and denizens of the Void often suffer from famine. You need Colour to survive, but you must also give it away to interact with other characters and the environment.
There are several different types of life in the Void: the Sisters, the Brothers, critters, predators and the player. Sisters are depicted as beautiful half-naked women, and Brothers are their monstrous guardians.
There are eleven Sisters in the Void but only nine have their own chambers. There were originally many more, but they all died of hunger due to lack of colour. Each of the nine sisters with a chamber has a Brother who guards her. The Brothers keep the Sisters bound in chains to prevent them from eating too much colour and killing the Sleeper. Sisters require colour to live and, because they are all bound, the only way they can get this colour is to have it fed to them.
Brothers are the self-appointed caretakers of the Void. Grotesquely deformed beings, most Brothers are blind, and are composed of a terrifying fusion of metal and flesh. Having crawled their way up from the Nightmare (the Nightmare is absolute death, where one will 'decompose atom by atom' with no return) they see the Void as a paradise and have declared it their duty to protect the Sleeper from death. Each brother guards a different Sister, and reacts to the player differently: some are aggressive, some are sympathetic and others see the player only as a tool. The player is mute, which many Brothers believe is an omen of evil and malice.
Colour is represented as a collective mind known as Master Colour. Colour has two possible states: Lympha and Nerva. Lympha is colour in its raw state and must be processed through your hearts to become Nerva, which can be used for anything from creating light to animating inanimate matter. Colour is composed of :
The Void is divided into nine realms and 35 chambers. A realm is composed of a Sister's chamber and all adjoining chambers (excluding those of other Sisters). Every realm - excluding that of the Nameless Sister - contains a Brother's chamber. This chamber is where the Sister's Brother lives, and can be visited at any time to speak with that Brother.
The Void's gameplay is based on absorbing Lympha found in the Void and using Nerva to paint glyphs and interact with the world. Glyphs are drawn by holding the Ctrl key and tracing the glyph with your mouse. Drawing a glyph incorrectly wastes colour. Drawing slowly with a glyph adds more colour to it, which makes the glyph stronger or longer lasting. Alternatively, you can draw a glyph and hold the mouse button down once the glyph is completed to continue to add colour to the glyph. Lympha can be found in plants, critters, and trees. You can grow colour in trees by activating the tree with a drop of colour, then drawing the Donor glyph to use Nerva. As you draw the glyph and give colour, an indicator on the lower left-hand corner of your screen will fill up, showing you how much of the tree's growth potential you are unlocking. After a "cycle" - one game day - the tree will have bloomed with colour for you to harvest, and will continue to give colour for a handful of cycles with diminishing returns. Colour is used for combat, as health, and to buff your character's stats. Storing Lympha in your hearts gives you different beneficial effects based on which colour you are putting into your hearts.
As you explore the Void, you will come across glowing hearts. These hearts can be found in some chambers or as a result of a boss battle and can be picked up. When you pick up a heart, it is immediately added to your body and unlocks a glyph for you to use. Hearts are used to process Lympha into Nerva. When Lympha is placed into a heart from your Palette, while the player is on the Void map, the heart will slowly convert the Lympha into Nerva. Hearts also serve as the player's health containers. When damage is taken, Lympha is removed from the hearts. When all your hearts are empty, the player dies - regardless of whether or not they still have Lympha in their Palette. A heart can only hold one colour of Lympha at a time, so it is important to find as many hearts as possible. Finding a heart also increases your palette capacity for each colour by 10.
In The Void, the Camera Obscura serves as the equivalent of a status page. The Camera Obscura, when opened, shows the player the number of hearts they have, the glyphs provided by those hearts, the capacity of each heart, how much Lympha is in each heart, the amount of Lympha the player has on his Palette, and the amount of Nerva on his Palette. In the Camera Obscura, players can transfer Lympha to and from their hearts. A variation of the Camera Obscura is used when interacting with Sisters and Brothers.
Putting Lympha in your hearts not only keeps you alive, but also enhances your character. Each colour gives a different bonus, shown on the chart below. Putting one Lympha of a given colour into any of your hearts increases its related bonus by 1%, so storing one hundred Lympha of any single colour between all of your hearts is enough to maximize its respective bonus.
For example, you could put a total of 100 Azure and 100 Emerald Lympha in any combination of hearts to maximize your character speed, and minimize damage taken from enemies.
Although the developers did not have time to implement the negative side effects of each colour (listed in the right-hand column), this information is still shown in-game.
In the Player (Bonus)
In the Void
Reduces the amount of colour needed to fill a Sister's heart.
Increases the likelihood of a Brother noticing the opening of a Sister's heart and ripping it out.
Decreases the damage taken from enemy attacks.
Increases the minimum amount of colour needed to draw a glyph.
Increases movement speed, both in chambers and on the map.
Increases the amount of time it takes to visit a chamber.
Reduces the colour needed to animate matter (grow trees, activate traps, etc.)
Reduces the damage dealt by the player.
Increases the rate at which Lympha is converted to Nerva while on the map.
Brothers will take more notice of the player's gardens and move to collect the colour for themselves.
Increases the damage dealt by the player.
Increases the damage dealt by enemies.
Reduces the negative effect the player's use of colour has on the Void.
Increases the amount of colour that enters the Void each cycle (there is only a certain amount of colour the Void will ever receive).
There are 21 glyphs in the Void, and each is granted to the player by acquiring a heart. Glyphs require Nerva to use and most increase in power when more Nerva is used. The glyphs and their effects are as follows:
Gives Nerva. Can be used to animate matter, feed Sisters, and drop balls of colour.
Leeches colour from a Sister. If all colour is leeched the Sister will die.
Used to mark a Brother as a traitor, triggers a boss battle.
Temporarily attracts all critters (not predators) in the chamber. Lasts a very short time.
Slowly rises into the air, attracting small, inanimate objects.
Slowly rises into the air, repulsing small, inanimate objects.
When used on veins of colour, exposes them so that the extract glyph may be used.
Creates a golem that, when activated with colour, explodes after a short delay.
Creates a golem that follows the player until activated with colour. When activated, it flies toward the nearest enemy and explodes.
When used on an exposed vein of colour, draws it out so that it can be collected next cycle.
Creates a beacon. When three are created, anything inside the triangle they form takes large amounts of damage.
Creates a floating golem that slowly rises into the air. When the player marks an enemy with colour, the golem flies into them and explodes.
Creates a flying golem that ascend until it locates an enemy. The golem then homes in on the enemy and explodes.
Creates a land golem that rolls forward until it detects an enemy. The golem homes in on any detected enemies and explodes.
Creates a ring around the player for a short time and damages any surrounding enemies.
Creates an impenetrable barrier around the player but disables the use of other glyphs until the barrier disappears.
Creates an aura of light around the player.
Increases the player's movement speed within a chamber.
Creates a flying golem that homes in on nearby predators, latching onto them and exploding when the predator is eaten.
Creates a rock golem that can be thrown in any direction. After the golem is activated with colour, anything that touches it will explode.
Uses all of the colour in the Void to send someone to the upper limit.
To move between chambers in the Void, the player must draw trails of colour from their current location to their destination. The player's character will then follow those lines until the end. Movement speed in the Void can be increased three ways: fill your hearts with azure, draw the path with azure, or use more colour to draw the path. At the start of the game, much of the Void is inaccessible. The only way to obtain access is to open at least two of a Sister's Hearts to enable passage through her realm. While travelling the Void, the player can be intercepted by Brothers and Sisters and will automatically enter the relevant being's Camera Obscura.
Every Sister in the Void has four hearts which can be opened by the player for various effects. A Sister's hearts are opened by feeding her colour with the 'Donor' glyph. Every Sister has two favourite colours and two colours that are poisonous. Feeding a Sister one of her favourite colours will open her hearts and feeding a Sister too much of a poisonous colour will kill her. The other three colours will have no effect. Each time the player finishes feeding a Sister, the Sister will move around briefly and often say something, with unique lines after each heart is opened. After a Sister's first heart is opened she will provide the player with important information. Opening a Sister's second heart will allow the player to traverse her realm and enter that of the next Sister. Opening a Sister's third heart has no effect other than to make her brother follow you around the Void in the hopes of catching and forcing you into a battle. Finally, opening a Sister's fourth heart has no immediate effect but is necessary for certain endings.
Using colour in any way causes damage to the realm of the Sister you are currently in. The damage caused to a sister's realm is irreversible and depends on the colour and amount used. Using a small amount of colour to correctly draw a glyph will cause very little damage whereas feeding a Sister her favourite colours causes the most harm. As a Sister's realm is damaged, predators will increase in strength and number. When the damage to a Sister's realm reaches a certain threshold, the Scorpio will appear. When the Scorpio appears the realm is effectively 'dead', and trees can no longer grow colour in that realm. Storing silver in your hearts while using colour decreases the damage done to the realm.
The Void features boss battles against two different types of enemies: predators and Brothers. The rules and strategies of each boss battle varies slightly depending on the type of enemy the player is facing, but on the whole, they are the same. Both types of enemies have a health bar and start the battle with three concentric rings. These rings slowly rotate through a random sequence of colours. The inner ring is always one colour. If a colour on any ring is highlighted, your opponent is momentarily weak to it. As a boss takes damage, the outer rings fall away until only the inner ring is left.