This is the second article about our internal art project The Last Molfar, so if you happened to miss the first part, go ahead and check it out. In this part, we will talk about the juicy part of the project and introduce our
main antagonist and bizarre and mysterious creatures from Ukrainian mythology.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the game’s story:
Wyrlook, the Antagonist of the Story
According to mythology, Wyrlook is a tall, one-eyed creature with a fur-covered head, half-arch shoulders, and a staff. It is a vile creature that kills everyone it encounters. Wyrlook can possess the bodies of other people and take control over them.
In our story, Wyrlook is a dark spirit who was accidentally released from the spirit world by Askold when he was a child. However, our hero does not remember this, since at that age he did not know how his abilities work. Wyrlook can possess and corrupt human bodies, also receiving all the skills that the owner has. Only those who succumb to anger and hatred can become Wyrlook’s victims. It feeds on the energy of death and the screams of people. Likes to mock and torture.
Askold meets Wyrlook for the second time on the battlefield of Zhovti Vody. Wyrlook has specifically lured him there to find out from the Guide spirit where the Molfar Grove is located. During the battle, Askold realizes that blood magic does not affect his opponent, and in swordsmanship, Wyrlook is much stronger. Askold loses the battle, after which Wyrlook tortures the Guide spirit and learns where the Grove is. The dark spirit mocks Askold and decides not to kill him, as if in gratitude for the fact that he once freed Wyrlook from the spirit world. After that, Wyrlook goes to the Molfar Grove, and… well, you the picture of destructed a burned out base of molfars:
Since Wyrlook deliberately lured Askold into battle, he of course chose the body of the strongest warrior. It had to be a stocky man, bigger and many times stronger and more skillful warrior than Askold.
From the sketches developed by our artist, we chose the most buff guy and began to develop this image further. Since the Wyrlook does not really ask permission from the host before inhabiting the body, after a while the captured shell begins to decompose. This is why there is rust on armor, dark fumes, etc.
Also, we selected many options of weapons that would look good on the characters and which it would be difficult for Askold to fight against.
It was decided that the mace would be the best counter to Askold’s saber, just like to any other weapon, of course. Especially if it is of THIS size:
The more Wyrlook exploits the captured body, the more it decomposes and the more the nature of the evil spirit manifests itself. Here’s the final variant of Wyrlook ‘s appearance: before and in the midst of the fight with Askold.
Mythological Creatures & Spirits
In Ukrainian mythology, natural phenomena that could not be explained at the time and that frightened people were called spirits. They were embodied in the familiar images of old people, devils, etc. These beliefs were manifested and built mainly on everyday things that ordinary people were engaged in. For example, the Popeliuha monster could appear after throwing out the ashes from the furnace and not covering them with soil. It was believed that an old blue-eyed woman appears from the ashes at night.
In the world of The Last Molfar, in addition to the world of the living, there is also a world of spirits – an afterlife. It is filled with both evil and good spirits. This is dangerous territory for people who don’t know how to navigate there. The main way for a normal person to enter the spirit world is to die. However, there are people who are sensitive to the vibrations and matter that separate the two worlds. They can communicate with spirits, see them, and, in rare cases, cross the line between the two worlds. Usually, these people are sought out by molfars.
Spirits have the same ability to cross the veil and enter the world of living as humans do. They can do this when the veil between worlds becomes thin. Mostly this happens when very large energy is released in a specific place. For example, a battlefield brings a lot of grief and death, which weakens the barriers between worlds, allowing spirits to break through.
Not only bad emotions can materialize in the spirit. There are many spirits who come into the world to help people (for example, the spirit of the Guide, Chuhaister, Skarbnik).
In general, in the world of the living, the spirit materializes in some visible form that would best characterize it. For example, Mavka (or Nyavka) mostly likes to lure young boys to the forest and kill them, so they appeared in the image of an attractive girl with green hair.
The classification of spirits into good/evil is quite relative. In most cases, the spirits maintained neutrality and defended their territories. When the spirits brought trouble to the people, they turned for help to witches or molfars. Witches always demanded payment for their work, and sometimes they could cheat, outwit, or fail to fulfill their obligations, so people didn’t like dealing with them and feared them even more than molfars. But they were approached when there was not much choice. Although the Molfars were feared (ordinary people were terrified of everything supernatural), locals knew that they acted without selfish thoughts.
Ukrainian mythology is riddled with bizarre creatures and spirits that personify various aspects of nature. Here, our artist had a lot of space for imagination and materials from mythology for inspiration. In the following picture, you can find concepts for many famous Slavic spirits, in particular:
Popeliuha. When the ashes are swept out of the furnace and thrown away without burying or covering it with a layer of soil, then on a moonlit night this ash can turn into Popeliuha. She looks like a slender old woman with a bluish, deceased face, very long arms, and clawed bony fingers, also very long. If someone comes home late, she can attack them and start strangling them. If the person does not suffocate to death, Popeliuha will leave black fingerprints on their neck, which remain until death.
Rusalka. These are the spirits of dead women and girls who appear in the summer in fields, forests, and near rivers. The appearance of the Rusalka is mostly human-like and varies from beautiful to ugly, sometimes with the addition of animal traits. Relatives are related to Mavka. They can ask riddles and will tickle to death the one who cannot give the right answer.
Viy. Viy has long heavy eyelashes or eyelids that he cannot lift himself, so he is usually blind. When his servants lift them with hay forks or hooks, Viy kills whoever he looks at. It is also believed that his gaze can destroy even a house.
Can you guess which of the depicted monsters are the three mentioned?
And here are three elaborated monster images that our artists created for this project:
Storks are often associated with life and birth as it is believed that storks deliver babies to parents. However, for this monster, we decided to add a little bit of darkness and turn the image of a stork into a vengeful spirit that hunts people who have committed infant homicide.
Chort is an evil spirit that personifies corruption and villainy. Traditionally, it is depicted as a human-like hairy creature with horns and animal legs. The name Chort is used as a curse word in the Ukrainian language.
Likho is often depicted as a one-eyed giant or as a terrible, tall, thin, crooked, hideous old cannibal with one eye in the middle of the forehead. The beast is quite clumsy, trees fall in its path as it walks, and it is powerful enough to destroy mountains. Likho lives in abandoned windmills.
Here are our interpretations of these iconic creatures:
And here’s a banana… I mean Askold for scale:
We hope it was as enjoyable for you to read about this project as it was for our team to work on it. The Last Molfar was an exciting experience where our team not just created art according to the guidelines, but we had the creative freedom to build the whole world and story and then find the best look for it. Today, we continue to work on this art project, now in 3D, so stay tuned for upcoming posts.
If you want our studio to develop an outstanding and flashy concept for your next game or need Art Direction assistance, drop us a line below, and let’s make great games happen.