The world of Dolorum is steeped in lore, and its inhabitants take their inspiration from reference points as far-reaching as Iron Galaxy’s Killer Instinct games, Shadow of the Colossus, Attack on Titan, and action-RPGs. It’s a word in which hostile behemoths threaten to wipe out humanity, lurking out in the woods for centuries plotting their attack and now, as the game begins, putting those plans into fruition. Here’s a little more detail about the development of Extinction’s world.
Those 150-foot ogres, known as the Ravenii, that you’ll surely have noticed if you caught any of Extinction’s trailers to date are the primary foe. Developers Iron Galaxy say they arrived at classic ogre trope from a gameplay standpoint rather than a narrative one. They were looking for an adversary who’s brutish and dumb - but not too dumb, because they also exhibit signs of their own culture and are capable of wielding weapons and armour. Ogres tick all those boxes, which is why you’ll often see them daubed in warpaint and dressed in basic armour of varying types while they lumber into the fray.
So as to avoid a one-note aspect to combat by constantly pitting player-character Avil exclusively against giant ogres, Vulture and Jackal enemy types are present too. Often following an ogre into the fight, mechanically they’re there to mix up the combat by attacking Avil in different ways and from different places. There are only so many places a towering giant can fit, and thus attack you from, but with these smaller and more lithe enemies the behaviour becomes more unpredictable. Certain environments, like caves, are only really suitable for these minion enemy types. Between them, they pose a delicate balancing act for the player: dodging the low-speed, high-impact attacks of the ogres while also keeping an eye on faster enemies which occupy the ground space.
Avil himself is known as the last of the Sentinels, an ancient order trained in protecting Dolorum from the Ravenii. Prior to the first Ravenii attack, though, he’s a simple labourer toiling in a field. This in itself harks back to a rich and long-running RPG trope in which the protagonist discovers a higher calling when adversity strikes. As for why he’s the last of the Sentinels - the Ravenii have been keeping a low profile for hundreds of years. During that time, many humans forgot or dismissed the threat they posed, and so the need for Sentinels diminished. Lucky there was at least one left when the ogres strolled back into town, really.
Shadow of the Colossus is the immediate touchstone one arrives at when a smaller protagonist climbs up their foe. Team Ico’s PS2 classic also shared Extinction’s puzzle box vibe with each boss interaction: it was never about slashing away at an enemy’s health bar without strategy, nor is it in this game. Random elements like enemy armour type, differing objectives, and the presence of minion enemy types, create a unique puzzle in each fight. It’s up to Avil to use his abilities at the right moment in order to seal the victory each time.