Emotions in The Negative?

So, I think I’ve mentioned - or maybe not, sorry, a lot’s been on my mind - but The Negative looks like a game I’ve wanted to see done for some time.
I’m a huge fan of classic turn-based strategy, both in a more HoMM and Eador-style, and the more RPG-meets-monster-raiser that The Negative seems to be.
But one of my concerns with various projects I’ve had throughout the years is how to balance what makes those sort of games fun (something I have little worry about you managing!) and the more unpleasant emotions that I feel the game will be taking a look at.

Maybe it’s just that I’m a pessimist by nature, myself, but I find that engaging players while developing a dark and downbeat setting is - difficult, at best.
Speaking generally - I’m not just fishing for spoilers, I swear! - how are you planning on developing the ruinous world that I expect we’ll be seeing, while keeping players invested in the setting?
Are you planning on including lore for the inhabitants, creatures, and relics - like the Soulsborne series and, to some degree, Siralim 3?

Or having a more elabourate story woven throughout - perhaps more NPC interaction?

Perhaps something else entirely - such as relating the fighting ability of your creatures/allies to their mental state?

I know it’s InDev, so all answers might be subject to change - but I’d love to hear about your design philosophy sometime, so I thought I might as well ask!

I’m glad you mentioned the Souls and Bloodborne games, because those games had the heaviest influence on how The Negative “feels”.

I don’t think it’ll be too difficult to balance fun gameplay with not-so-happy environments, though. Graphics, music, sound effects, and dialog can do a lot to capture the dreariness we need. Outside of that, a certain level of polish is necessary to make the world more believable. In Siralim, for example, it’s completely fine to just add some flavor text to convey an action and rely on the player’s imagination to do the rest. In The Negative, not quite as much can be left to the imagination, so I need to be more careful about how the graphics, music, and everything else all come together.

Another thing to consider is the user interface and the pacing of the game. A lot of people who came from the Siralim games will expect a turbo mode in battle, but that’s never, ever, ever going to be added to The Negative because it would completely throw off the flow of the game. Post-game content will be a lot more focused as well, but it will also be more polished and hopefully more fun as a result of that.

The game will be really light on the “forced dialog” side of things. Dark Souls does an excellent job at telling a deep story while not forcing it on the player at all. I like that, but The Negative will be a little more straightforward than that because honestly, I didn’t even know Dark Souls had a story the first time I played it… so to me, that could improved on. Each of the emotions conveyed in the game will belong to different races of humans (or semi-humans… humanoids?), and each will have a unique culture which bleeds into the quests they’ll send you on. Even the game mechanics themselves are all designed around the game’s lore - there’s a reason why you collect and fight monsters, and it’s not for a reason anyone could probably guess based on what I’ve revealed so far.

Excellent, this is everything I wanted to hear.

I’ve seen a lot of games that try to capture a ‘moody’ feel without really understanding how it goes. And I feel like a lot of people can’t really capture the feeling of Dark Souls, what with incidental dialogue and little things telling a story. Not that I’m sad to see some of the attempts that’ve come, of course; but it’s a very unique experience, and I think a lot of the first-time developers who angle for it sometimes don’t put their own twist on the thing, if that makes sense.

That you’re planning to do something similar, but clearly with a lot of forethought on what and how The Negative is, is what I was hoping since the release screenshots. I figured the game itself might have more narrative, and a slower pace, than Siralim; and I’m very excited to have more… demi-humans? Emotion-born-people-folks?.. to learn about. Now, I kind of want to guess the player-character’s reasons, but - I feel like you’ve given me a lot to mull over. And I’ll repeat it, really excited for this!