We are a group of creatives, scratching our heads, over whether we could use Unity for our new game. After looking at masterpieces like GLID, Feist, Paper Moon, etc, we were completely convinced that Unity would be the perfect tool for a side-scrolling action like the one we imagine.
Unfortunately, as we came to realize, most of those games are still pure 3D, where only the camera and the controls make the illusion of a 2D.
What we want to achieve, however, involves using hand drawn sprite characters, objects, backgrounds, etc, but still keeping the 3D environment, which Unity is so famous for. We want achieve a unique mixture of 2D cartoon-ish sprites, and at the same time depth of field, as in real 3D. The gameplay will still remain 2D based, but we want to be able to utilize the camera, and the Z-depth in general (perhaps we may even use this depth, as Paper Moon does)
Of course, we know that having pure 2D in Unity is also technically possible. Many people use the GUI layer as some sort of a world blitting screen to render sprites. This however, totally eliminates both the 3D environment, as well as the simplicity of the Unity IDE (which we also want to keep)
For us, the ideal variant would be, if possible, to use cube objects, to which to apply the sprites (as texture with transparent backgrounds). Then, it would be pretty easy to build levels out of those cubes using the Unity editor.
The major problem here would be the actual scheduling of sprite sequences for the different animations. This may be hard problem to solve not only in terms of development complexity, but also in terms of end game performance (reapplying textures all the time)
I know that a bunch of plugins exist out there (like SpriteManager, for example), but I wasn’t sure how they actually do the job.
Thus, I am posting this question, with the hope that an expert would be able to tell whether this is possible, and technically feasible within unity. Also, I would appreciate it, if one could point out plugins, frameworks, or simply source code that we can start playing with.