How The Shrine Became Surprise Monster

It’s not every day, that a dark puzzle game for adults becomes a bright and colorful peek-a-boo game for kids. But that is nonetheless what happened for the Danish game developers at Cape Copenhagen.

A few months ago, Cape Copenhagen released their latest game, Surprise Monster. A simple, bright and cheerful game for children aged 2 – 4 about small monsters hiding in a room, offering gifts to be unwrapped when they are found. But the truth is, the newest game from Cape Copenhagen was originally supposed to be something completely different.


Peter Holm, COO Cape Copenhagen

Peter Holm, COO Cape Copenhagen

“We had received funding from the Nordic Game Program for a game concept called The Shrine,” COO at Cape Copenhagen, Peter Holm, explains to Nordic Game Bits. “And after that we embarked on a long and hard design and development process.”

After we had used the majority of the budget, we were still a long way from the finish line, but we were convinced that we had a strong concept. But then Fireproof Games published their game, The Room, which was in essence the exact same game that we were creating


After this, Cape Copenhagen could not see any way to continue with their current project without risking being accused of plagiarism because of the similarities with The Room, and the team were thus not sure about what to do next. They tried to pull The Shrine in another direction, but without much success. And things were starting to look grim before they came up with a solution.

“After a longer period with frustrations and deliberations over closing the project down completely, and paying back the unused part of the support, we ended up inventing Surprise Monster instead,” Holm tells.


Gotta open that gift wrapping!

Gotta open that gift wrapping!

Luckily, the Nordic Game Program agreed that it would be a good idea to turn the project completely around and use the remaining funds to get a smaller children’s game released. But Cape Copenhagen was also pretty confident about the new direction for the project, as they based it on their experience from previous titles for children.

“The inspiration comes from a single scene in the DUPLO Zoo game that we produced for LEGO some years ago,” Holm explains. The scene in question has a gift that the players can unwrap. Something that Cape Copenhagen realized that the young players enjoyed immensely. “So it seemed obvious to make a small game based on that.”


The resulting game might seem very simple, but Holm says that this is intentional. “In working with kids, it’s often a question about reducing, simplifying and letting go of your adult self. Children’s logic is completely different from grown-up logic, and things that are obvious to adults can be incomprehensible for kids.”

Our mantra is that the game should primarily be a comfortable, appealing, and safe place for the child to be. And then gameplay and narrative have to take the back seat.


Surprise Monster is available for iOS and Android.


Jesper K. Kristiansen

Multi-passionate game developer and journalist. Has been writing about the Danish games industry for more than ten years, and creating audio design for both Danish and International games for almost as long.

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