While loosely described as a fantasy adventure to ‘save the world’, Hidden Dawn attempts to touch sparingly on several concepts such as redemption, sacrifice, family, self-limitation, internal conflict, vengeance, social awareness, independence and overcoming tribulations.
Of note is the design decision to portray the protagonist as a common citizen, instead of a powerful scholar of magic, or a mighty warrior of weapons and tactics. The abilities of the main character are mainly not a talent or skill of the heroine, but conferred upon her at specific moments in the game by the receptacle she carries.
A subtle theme is also of the spiritual aspect of the manner in which these abilities are manifested. Rather than classical origins of powers and magic, the abilities of the heroine derive from tapping into the components of existence, such as vitality, the mind, power of material attraction, and unity.
Hidden Dawn is set in an undetermined time within the world of Empyria. Comprising of several sentient inhabitants, from land and sea, these peoples form civilizations and colonies in an intermingle of culture and economy, or maintain an insular and homogenous society in certain areas.
Science and advancement of knowledge is not commonplace, but highly valued. Magick is recognized and respected but not widely practiced. Trade and diplomacy are major ways in which the people of Empyria exchange wares and services.
In a conscious choice to steer away from medieval fantasy, E-One Studio opted to refer to ancient civilizations for inspiration, with locales like ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece. Certain mythical venues were also sources of influence, such as the Amazon people and Atlantis.
The story begins several years after a catastrophic battle between two groups of adversaries. The followers of a conqueror wiped out the entire assemblage of a group of people who were protecting an item of importance.
A young girl, driven by her concern over her sick father, sets out from her home of many years, only to find out her family is hunted by someone far across the continents, for an object she carries unknowingly, and with a lot more to lose than her parent.
Gameplay will be available to the player through 4 playable characters. Heru, the main heroine, is provided mostly with puzzle and environmental challenges. Combat will be offered through interactive cutscenes, sometimes with the heroine. Heru, however, will not be used during player controlled combat sessions, but Kai instead.
Heru will be the only character with access to the Essence, a collection of abilities tapping into the fabric of the universe. Each facet of existence has its own list of sub-abilities. Not all will have the same amount of options. Ratna-kul is known to possess certain abilities, as well as forcefully inserting some of them into his followers.
Vita – essence of vitality, dealing with rejuvenation and growth (plant control)
Graviton – essence of gravity, dealing with repulsing and attracting objects, or Heru’s body
Infusa – essence of unity, dealing with directing characters, or viewing from their eyes
Cereb – essence of the mind, dealing with reading thoughts, or mental suggestion
Hidden Dawn provides challenges through various forms of puzzles, from physical ones in environmental travel, to shape-based puzzles requiring the use of certain Essence, to mental puzzles of pattern recognition, time-based puzzles and dialogue-oriented puzzles.
No accurate map is provided for the continents of Empyria. However, the 8 locations in the game attempt to showcase the diversity and range of environments, natural and social, in the world.
- Sardoon – faded dune civilization, with mostly colonists as frontier villages. Generally lawless
- Verdentia – constant warfare under the massive trees, inhabitants are fiercely territorial
- Draka Captio – remote and desolate, only the local people remain while other foreigners yielded their immigrant towns to the formidable icy weather
- Bria – major trading and political hub, it is a regional center of a network of kingdoms and federations
- Marakort – last of the old world order, the small city is a shadow of its once mighty example of urban elitism
- The Operis – the famed and feared mobile stronghold of Ratna-kul. Moving by strange magic, and always escorted by an armada of flying monsters. Never seen long enough in one place, it was rumored to be able to travel across vast distances very quickly.
- Charon-kor – a floating continent, seemingly by non magical means. Seen as a prophetic site by some, a natural anomaly by others.
- Altus – the fabled location of a lost people, with untold riches and power sealed away for aeons
Several sentient people of Empyria are represented in the game world. Humans, sea people, goblins, reptilians, and other races pepper throughout the locations. It is not unusual to have migration and settling of foreigners in other regions, primarily in the more urban territories.
- Glistening Plains – intense heat has given rise to certain parts of the desert with crystallized sand granules, reflecting the sunlight or moonlight in a myriad of colors.
- Infinite Arborus – nourished by constant rain and rich loam, a sizeable part of the landmass has produced some of the largest and most prolific vegetation, including the mighty trees of Verdentia.
- Depes Sea – rich in pearls and fish, the calm sea offers many wondrous underwater sites, and a haven for maritime industries.
- Ngaritas Coast – the very first civilizations were said to appear at this shoreline, and rumor has it that magick was discovered, along with several disciplines of knowledge, by scholars of old.
- The Killing Blue – extremely deep, and extremely unpredictable, this ocean possesses dangerous underwater currents and monsters beneath the waves. Sailors prudently avoid it.