It’s hard to believe but there was a time tactical turn-based RPGs were almost extinguished!
Nowadays the situation it’s exactly the opposite, especially on Pc, where not a month goes by that a new promising and charming tactical turn-based RPG is announced.
At this point is quite natural to ask ourselves if there isn’t the risk of inflating the genre. In my opinion, it isn’t possible to give a general answer to this question, because essentially it depends on the quality and the original ideas behind each game.
For sure, as competition increases it becomes more and more difficult to find new ideas but, in this regard, Scarlet Republics seems to have something really interesting to say.
At its core, the game seems to be something between Fire Emblem (essentially for the combat phase) and a full RPG (mainly for the attention given to the choices-consequences aspect).
The setting, as well as the art style, has yet a lot of personality even if the game is far from the release. Every graphic aspect of the game recalls some sort of new Renaissance but with fantasy (and maybe a DaVincipunk) touch.
The world of Scarlet Republics takes you to the city-states of ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy with a significant fantasy twist. The city-states of Corsano lie at the center of a morally ambiguous and decadent society, where vice is celebrated as the equal of virtue and only one rule holds true: You do what is best for yourself and your city. Brimming with merchants, cutthroats, mercenaries, greedy bankers, corrupt priests, and shady politicians for you to both ally and war with, Corsano is both colorful and dangerous.
But beyond the gilded halls of the Princes and the mansions of wealthy Citizens, a religious and social conflict is brewing in the bowels of the country. The Cityless, ostracized and exploited Corsani with no city to call their own, have slowly but surely begun to raise fists to their Citizen masters, and the spark of revolution can be seen from Astore to New Valoni.
Forge alliances, take sides and uncover the mysteries of the past: The future Corsano is in your hands.
That being said, intrigued by the project, we decided to have a little “turn-based” chat with Kristian, creative director at Audacity Interactive, and what follows is the result of what he confessed…
Hi Kristian, thanks for the time you are dedicating us. First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself, your studio, and experiences?
My name is Kristian, I’m the creative director at Audacity Interactive. We founded the studio in 2018 with a dream of telling awesome fantasy stories and making amazing RPGs. The last two years have been incredibly challenging and fulfilling and seeing it all pay off in the Kickstarter is just grand. I am a true fantasy and tactics nerd; almost every Fire Emblem game has been completed on the hardest difficulty, and there are only few great fantasy authors or books I can’t discuss for hours on end! And – possibly my proudest achievement – I had, until recently, actually caught all the Pokemon.
Before going into the details of your project, what is the best way to describe Scarlet Republics?
Well, originally, I would joke that it was just Fire Emblem with choice. I loved Fire Emblem games but always wanted to have just that little extra influence over the story and the characters. But the project has changed quite a bit since those early days, especially once we closed in on mood and setting. It has become a lot more ambitious and – to be honest – a more beautiful game than I had ever originally imagined. The combination of the inspiration from the Renaissance and Leonardo da Vinci, which especially shines through in the game’s art, gives the game a unique look and feel. Today, I’d be happy to see it described as a well-written, engaging, and immersive grimdark fantasy story, that’s also an amazing tactical RPG; where choices truly matter, both story-wise and in the game’s many fantastic battles.
In the overview, we read that Scarlet Republics is influenced by Western and Japanese game mechanics with a Grimdark Fantasy background, but in particular, is there any game, book, movie, or anything else that inspired you the most?
I would be amiss not to mention the work of Joe Abercrombie, especially his book Best Served Cold, as well as the way he uses his characters. Other authors that deserve credit are Scott Lynch and Mark Lawrence.
On the games front, we’re obviously very inspired by the more fast-paced Japanese tactical games like Fire Emblem. A lot of the gameplay pays homage to Divinity 2 as well, and the grimdark story and some of the things we want to do with choice, give more than a nod to the Witcher 2 and 3.
What does Scarlet Republics offer in terms of gameplay? Will it be a game more suitable for those who love to read and make certain choices to influence the story or who, like me, love more to focus on fighting and developing their characters?
The game actually aims to be a perfect marriage of those two elements. It’s really important to me that the story becomes about developing your characters and that the story has a direct effect on the combat and strategy of the game. On the other hand, I want your efforts in combat and squad-building to have a direct effect on the story. You’re on good terms with one faction? They may send crucial reinforcements to aid you. Pissed off a local prince? He might empty his coffers to ambush you in the middle of another encounter. You’ve been killing members of the Astore city guard like there was no tomorrow? The Prince of Astore might despise your mercenary ways, closing off certain story routes – and opening others.
I’m super curious about patterns, duels and Stratagems, can you explain how they will work?
The patterns are the magic system of the game. Everything has a pattern, from gravity to a mouse or dog. Mages in Scarlet Republics can manipulate the patterns of humans. Once you start messing around with a pattern it destabilizes. In the game, this manifests by characters having a stability stat that you have to manage. Stability is damaged both when you use certain magical abilities, as well as when you are attacked by special skills or spells.
Characters become seriously weak when they’re fully destabilized and unable to resist status ailments like taunting and stunning. This makes destabilizing units a powerful strategy to utilize against the enemy, and also something you really have to take care doesn’t happen to your units.
Every melee combat in Scarlet Republics work as a duel. Weapons play a central role in duels, and each weapon applies different debuffs to a unit when it is attacked. Spears, for example, lower the enemy’s accuracy as you can hold him at bay, making it harder for him to score a hit. To combat spear wielders, you should send characters with evasion reducing weapons (rapiers, daggers) or simply not engage in a duel and pick him off from afar with an arrow or a grenade.
The duels in the game are meant to simulate one-on-one battlefield engagements, and we really want your choice of equipped weapon to be impactful. This also means, that if you try to switch targets during a duel, watch out! Because there will be an opportunity attack coming your way. Weapon debuffs also stack, so you do not want to find yourself surrounded by a group of enemies with different ugly weapons, making your characters’ survivability extremely questionable. On the other hand, you can gang up on tough enemies making them easier to take down.
Stratagems: It’s quite common in strategy games to have a sub-goal or mini-quests like ”save 5 civilians” or “take no damage” that you can do to get bonuses. The thing about a system like this is that players have to adapt their strategy to some arbitrary goal, which may be undesirable given their squad composition or strategic preferences. We thought it would be exciting to let the player pick these sub-goals themselves. The stratagem system starts every combat with a set of challenges or sub-quests that the player can choose among freely. You get bonuses for playing according to your own strategic preferences. We wanted to make the game reward you for picking a strategy and sticking to it. Basically, the player gets to choose how they want to approach each engagement and how they want to balance potential risk and reward.
Will Scarlet Republics be a difficult game?
Yes. We might add an “enjoy the story” mode where everyone’s invincible as it costs us nothing. But the core experience of the game is hard! If you as a player haven’t cursed my rotten guts at least a couple of times during the campaign, I shall view it as a failure on my part.
Off the battlefields, what will there be to do? How will work the managing of your characters?
The mercenary camp of the Blackwings is the place where you go to manage equipment, outfit your characters and get to know them better through dialogue. We really wanted to make the mercenary camp a living part of the game that you can manage and upgrade along the way. With our first Stretch Goal reached on the Kickstarter we now get to do that. Yay!
Let’s talk about the Scarlet Republics world. The game is set in Mediterranean landscapes, inspired by the territories of Greece and Italy, and above all by the art of the great Leonardo Da Vinci, I’m very curious to know why?
We really wanted a setting distinct from the pinewoods and Tolkien-esque mountains and forests that have sort of become a hallmark of fantasy. And the city-state setting allowed for a lot of conflict, alliances and betrayal in the narrative. I want to credit our amazing Art Director Akos for the vision to create the art-style of the game as an homage to the great Da Vinci. Using his incredible imagination as a blueprint for the technology and visuals of the world has been a ton of fun and I think the end result is just marvelous. My hope is that our players will adore the setting as much as I do, and relish spending time exploring and delving into it.
Your Kickstarter campaign was a huge success. In a few hours, you have reached the set goal. But where are you right now, in terms of development? Will there be an Early Access phase? When can we start playing it?
Well, running the campaign is taking up most of our time right now. As soon as it ends, we’ll get back to creating the game. There’s still plenty of models to sculpt, battle maps to design, and dialogue to write. We’ve scheduled the game for release in 2022, as for alpha, beta, and early access… well, some of it is wait and see, but as a general rule of thumb: As soon as possible. We want to involve backers and our community as much as we can, and they can really help improve the game with great ideas, thoughts, and passion for the project. We want to create the best game possible, and we want our community to be a huge part of that journey. We wouldn’t want the game to suck because we didn’t ask the most important people what they thought about it in time, now would we?
The question that I personally ask all developers. As an indie studio, what are the main difficulties you find yourself facing, and above all what advice would you give to other developers interested in taking this path?
Having so many brilliant creative forces gathered in one place is bound to end in a conflict or two. Learning to manage egos and developing a space of trust and open-mindedness is vital, but for me, that was very hard. My advice is to talk, talk, and talk; and when it hurts to talk, talk some more. You have to communicate to have success.
Your fellow developers are your most important allies on a journey that’s at times very challenging and exhausting. If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
Before leaving you, just a bonus question. Which is the latest turn-based game you’ve played or still playing?
I’m currently on my way through Persona 4 on my PC (somebody finally made the right choice and released it there!). P5 is a very special game to me as I played it when we started the studio, and revisiting the series is a nice distraction from an exhilarating campaign. And, I want to add the hardest as well. I had a Fire Emblem Fates Conquest run that was absolutely excruciating on the hardest difficulty. I mean, I lost sleep, might have lost weight, had to battle the constant feeling of impending doom until I finally managed to bring it home. Because I did complete it! And the feeling was glorious, like having trudged through endless hours of bloody combat. Scarlet Republics won’t be as hard as that, but I am definitely hoping, that someone out there will experience just a little of the triumph-against-all-odds feeling I had when I came out victorious in that run.
Thanks, Kristian, we will keep follow your project and wait for a playable build.