REMORE: INFESTED KINGDOM describes itself as “A challenging turn-based tactical RPG that transports you into a medieval apocalyptic infestation. Your survivors are fragile, and every step you take could be your last.” The game was released in October 2023 in Early Access on Steam, and we had the pleasure of talking about the game with Kane Jung, the Game Director at Black Anchor.
Howdy! I just wanted to say thanks for sitting down with me to chat about Remore: Infested Kingdom, I’m sure you’re just as excited as I am for the game’s launch!
1st Turn: With the Breadth of weapons the medieval age used across its various cultures, how did you come to decide which weapons to add to the game, along with the toolset characters can use, such as the ever-important grapple hook..
Our weapons and the way their skills function was influenced by Battle Brothers. However, the basis of our combat system differed, so we started by selecting weapons that could better fit our intended mechanics of, for example, damaging multiple targets or moving enemies.
Developing the tools (grappling hook, etc.) was hard as references were scarce, so we had to get imaginative. We wanted to create skills that enhanced tactical gameplay but still kept the low fantasy feel. So magic was out!
This took many iterations and reworks, but we eventually got them to where we wanted them! That’s pretty much how all the weapons and tools came about!
2nd Turn: One of the biggest struggles I see with marketing is how the “Zombie” or undead market is oversaturated as a genre. What helps your game stand out, and do you even agree with the prior statement?
I agree and this is why we chose a medieval setting. When people think of zombies, they imagine firearms, chainsaws, baseball bats, or frying pans. However, players having to face zombies with weapons typical of medieval combat, such as heavy swords or war hammers, creates a unique feel and makes for an interesting gameplay experience!
Games like XCOM primarily focus on cover-based shooting, whereas Asian-centric ‘SRPG’ games like Fire Emblem or Triangle Strategy typically revolve around medieval fantasy with swords and magic. Even the game closest to our world, Battle Brothers, has an open-world sandbox structure.
In essence, the fusion of the medieval setting with the apocalyptic theme and the rarity of this combination within the Tactical RPG genre serves as a distinguishing factor for us, we feel.
3rd Turn: Forming a studio is a tumultuous decision for any group of people. What was the story behind your studio’s founding and how you all came together?
I’ve been developing freemium games for a decade as is common in Korea, but I never felt I was making something personally enjoyable. When I came across indie games like Slay the Spire and Darkest Dungeon, I realized that they were often made on much smaller budgets yet were far more up my alley than AAA games.
My co-founders and I have worked together for over ten years. We have a shared taste in hardcore tactics/strategy games, which we thought wouldn’t be popular among gamers in Korea who mostly follow the mobile market. It led us to challenge ourselves to develop a game on Steam, with the goal of finding global gamers who engage in the deep games that we really want to make.
4th Turn: As a south korean studio, what initially attracted you to focus on a Western setting instead of one in a location you’re more familiar with?
When creating the setting for Remore, we wanted to combine elements of ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Walking Dead.’ This led us to envision a world akin to 14th century Europe, which matched themes I personally enjoy, as found in games such as ‘Darkest Dungeon’ or the ‘Baldur’s Gate’ series.
Even though we are a Korean studio, our narrative designer, Brian, is Irish! He helps us understand Western culture and expectations. We aimed to design gameplay with the depth of turn-based mechanics while emphasizing a ‘quick pace,’ which we felt was a distinctly Korean trait. Meanwhile, in the narrative design, we leaned into European sensibilities, and the blend seems to work!
5th Turn: Remore has a story involving characters who talk with one another before mission and a base camp with characters who get added as a form of meta progression between. So my question is, does the game have a definitive end, or are we playing until we reach the inevitable final moments of the characters?
As a team we prefer having a set goal, so we are developing the game with a fixed ending in mind. We were also cautious that creating a sandbox-style game within our current world might make it too similar to Battle Brothers, so we went with our gut.
Both linearly structured games and those using procedural generation have advantages and disadvantages. What we’re emphasizing is that we offer a ‘unique experience on every stage that progresses linearly.’ We introduce new enemies and level design patterns with every game round, ensuring players are constantly faced with new challenges and avoiding repetition.
6th Turn: How does your team determine what degenerate strategies are, and how do they approach them? Degenerate strategies being overpowered strategies requiring little effort.
The main question is: “Is this enjoyable?”. We encourage emergent play once it’s enjoyable, so if a strategy makes the game less enjoyable, we consider it an ‘exploit’ and fix it accordingly.
For instance, one of the Infested, the ‘Blister,’ can be handled by placing a barricade before alerting the enemies and then throwing a stone to trigger the alarm. We might not have anticipated this, but it aligns with the gameplay goal of ‘tactical play,’ so we accept and encourage it.
On the other hand, the playstyle observed at STEAM NEXT FEST, where players skip turns until enemies move to the desired positions, was not intentional and seemed to make the game less fun. These are the kinds of things we try to prevent.
7th Turn: Reading through the change logs, it seems your team made a surprising amount of discoveries during Steam’s next fest. What were some of the most important lessons your team learned during the event?
It was great seeing the different perspectives of players playing for the first time, but while the team understands the game deeply, it’s impossible to predict what first-time players would feel.
We aimed for ‘difficult but manageable if the player utilized all solutions given to them,’ and we didn’t want to undermine the achievement felt when players overcome these challenges. So, even if there was feedback that the game was difficult, we didn’t directly lower the difficulty.
Instead, we tried to understand why players weren’t using the offered solutions and tried fixing those issues. In the playtest where various changes were made, most players could clear the final stage ‘not by brute force, but by maintaining focus.’ This was the best result of STEAM NEXT FEST.
8th Turn: What games helped influence you and your Studio during the development of REMORE: INFESTED KINGDOM?
When we first played “Zombicide” we loved the imbalance of the endless zombies against the survivors, forcing players to consider things like noise and line of sight.
We explored various turn-based games, discussing what aspects players enjoyed and which ones they didn’t. Weapon variety was influenced by “Battle Brothers,” and character skills by squad-specific perk tree systems from the “XCOM” series.
Enemies reacting immediately when seeing a target was inspired by “Invisible Inc,” and battlefield manipulation by “Into the Breach.” Removing hit percentages and introducing uncertainty through randomized damage while maintaining depth was influenced by The Last Spell.
We aimed to understand other games in the genre from a pretty broad perspective and used this to answer the question: “What would be the most enjoyable game for us as gamers?”
9th Turn: What are some common mistakes you’ve seen players making during the early stages that they should avoid when first playing?
Don’t initiate combat without weapon/tactical action points. Delaying your turn might bring more Infested, but rushing into combat is dangerous. Balance the pace between ‘safe play’ and ‘fast play’!
Also, pay attention to the tooltips for each weapon and tools! For example, the second skill of the ‘Two-Handed Axe,’ ‘Ambush Chop,’ yields different results when used within or outside an enemy’s line of sight. Using each weapon effectively is crucial, particularly in difficulties above ‘Suffering.’
One of the biggest challenges observed was when players first meet the Blister, that dies instantly upon colliding with any object or unit. Since this is uncommon in other games, we need to increase its recognition. We hope to show that using the grappling hook or pitchfork to push/pull can often make the game progression smoother!
10th Turn: What makes a game grimdark to you versus just dark, and which of those aspects has Remore utilized?
Our style and tone are dark, but whether it fully leans into ‘Grimdark’ is up to the player to decide. In a post-apocalyptic setting like ours, a grimdark direction would mean the presence of intensifying despair, madness, grotesqueness, etc., eventually leading to ‘loss’. However, if it instead focused on the hope of surviving the situation and overcoming the challenge, it would indicate a less bleak direction.
In this sense, Remore’s basic setting indeed starts with elements of Grimdark, but the ultimate narrative direction focuses more on hope and resolution. The struggle of characters against the desperate grimdark-tinged situation forms our theme but we emphasize the contrast between light and darkness and focus on the psychological changes of characters struggling through the infestation.
Bonus Turn: If you mysteriously work up in the world of REMORE: INFESTED KINGDOM, what medieval weapon would you personally take and why to defend yourself?
Hmm…tough question. Purely in terms of in-game functionality, I believe the ‘Two-Handed Axe’ is the most versatile weapon, as it’s capable of handling a variety of situations. However, personally, I don’t have the confidence to wield a two-handed ax and crack the skulls of the Infested like our dear friend Duirmuid. I wonder if I could even lift one…
If such a situation truly arises, I might opt for the ‘spear,’ which is easier to handle and allows me to attack the Infested from a distance. Of course, using a bow would enable attacks from an even greater distance, but sadly, unlike Korean olympic archers, I am not a medalist. To be honest, I think the best approach would be to find Willam, and beg him to let me tag along!