The theme is "death is useful".
I don't want to make one of those puzzle platformers where you have to use your dead body to hold down switches or let you step on it to avoid spikes. I want to make something that incorporates the theme into the gameplay a bit less heavy-handedly; something that people unrelated to the Week of Awesome might look at and not even notice the theme was there. I feel like themes are supposed to be sort of subtle like that.
So, I've decided to make a game called Soulwielder, a simple and short 2D platformer with a low-res, pixelated art style.
The game will play a bit like Cave Story: you use the left and right arrow keys to move, the up arrow key to aim up, the down arrow key to aim down (if you're midair), Z to jump, X to shoot, and space to dash. If you're not holding up or down, you aim forward, which is directly left or right based on your character's facing.
Alternatively, you can use WASD to move and aim, J to jump, and K to shoot.
Grounded dashing is a quick burst of momentum in the direction you're facing, with a low cooldown.
Midair dashing is more powerful, but has a higher cooldown. It travels in the direction you're holding with the WASD keys, so you could aim it diagonally up and right by holding W and D, or even aim it down with S.
The enemies are a host of 4 demons scattered throughout the land: quick wolves, flying bats, and tall, slow ogres, which all hurt you when they touch you; also, immobile warlocks which throw little red orb projectiles at you from their staff.
If the demons kill you, you restart the level from the beginning with full health.
Humans and their Souls
Several times throughout the game, you'll come across little villages of humans being attacked by demons.
Humans will keep popping out of the doorways of buildings in the village. They are helpless, and run around frantically until you shoot them or a demon touches them, at which point they die and leave their body on the ground.
If you step on a human body, you absorb its soul.
You can press C to pay 2 souls to fire a more powerful shot that explodes in a wide radius when it touches a demon, or pay 3 souls to regenerate about 15% of your health.
If you don't collect a human's soul within a certain amount of time (probably 1-2 minutes), the body disappears and turns into 2 wolves, 4 bats, 1 ogre, or 1 warlock, chosen randomly; the number of demons is different because they vary in strength (bats are quite weak).
You have to make sure you don't let too many dead humans turn into demons by collecting their souls yourself, which lets you spend their souls for healing and more powerful bullets.
Eventually, the humans stop coming out of the buildings.
To clarify, the incorporation of the theme is through the usefulness that you as well as the demons find in the death of the humans.
I may also incorporate a mechanic where dying demons explode into little shockwaves that push the player away from where the demon was, so that you could avoid falling on demons for an extra second or so by killing them and so you get pushed away from oncoming demons by killing the ones at the front of the line.
I'll be using environmental art from SpiderDave on OpenGameArt.org, such as this for the ground tiles.
I'll likely make buildings out of some of the brick-like tiles he's made, and I may create some tiles for the roofs of buildings.
The enemies I plan on making myself, and giving simple animations.
Those are the plans for now; let's hope all goes well and nothing has to change too much during the week.