Ash of Gods Interview

EnklawaNetwork, a Polish website, has recently spoken with Sergei Bokarev and Anton Bazhenov, a couple of developers from AurumDust Studio, about their upcoming Banner Saga-like RPG Ash of Gods. The interview, available in English courtesy of EnklawaNetwork, covers such topics like the game's setting and story, the current state of development, AurumDust's approach to giving their players freedom to choose and fail, and the game's combat. A few snippets:

EN: Can you introduce us to a main story of the game without spoiling too much?

SB: Here’s a summary that describes the story: the world has known seven hundred years of peace. But that peace is about to come to an end. The Feast of the Spring Equinox is in full swing, when the bell in the town hall suddenly begins to ring. Captain Thorn Brenin, the bodyguard Lo Pheng, the scribe Hopper Rouley, and many others, do not know yet that the reapers have returned and intend to drown the entire world in blood so that they may awaken the sleeping gods. By the way, in our intro (see below) you may see great battle on the eve of the seven centuries of tranquillity.

EN: The return of reapers seems like another war story about battle between forces of light and dark. Are you striving for high fantasy save-the-world-become-a-hero scenario or is it something more personal?

AB: I believe that save-the-world as a chosen one is a cliche that still fits pretty good to fantasy setting. It just works. But despite the fact that the world of Ash of Gods is involved in another good vs evil fight we want to tell another story. It is the story of a man who struggling to save his daughter's life as well as lives of his companions and friends. He's not a hero. He's a man with the goal. But sometimes your choice depends on circumstances. You can't save everyone, can't predict what will happen. A choice that feels right could turn out into hell. And you can easily lose your humanity on your journey trying to save your mates with a price of innocent people lives. The story is non-linear, and the way it shapes is up to a player.


EN: You promised that player's choice is going to have a direct impact on the story. How deep can it go?

SB: We want to give the player lots of freedom—he will constantly need to weigh every dialogue choice, double-think every decision, and manage his limited resources—because a mistake might make any of the characters perish forever, including the main characters (which will not lead to an immediate GAME OVER). This choices should offer a variety of way to beat the game and end up with one of the 7 endings.

EN: Are you not afraid that some players might put the game off if they'll lose their favourite character because of one or two reckless decisions?

AB: As an old RPG player I believe that RPG players are very curious. They want to know every little detail about any game they play. And they definitely want to know consequences of their choices, even if they are bad. Otherwise, they are able to load a save to make the better ending.

EN: The world of Ash of Gods looks very big and diverse. I guess you work on some extensive lore?

AB: The world of Ash of Gods is based on the novel of famous Russian fantasy author Sergey Malitsky. He's also a story writer of the game. He creates his new novel together with the game, adapts it with our ideas and feedback. So yes, lore of Ash of Gods is really huge, and any player who wants to learn more about the world of the game won't be disappointed.


EN: My first impression from seeing Ash of Gods' combat system was like „It's The Banner Saga with cards”. Can you make a list of the most important similarities and differences between these two games in their approach to battle?

SB: Well, it also is a turn-based tactical combat, similar to the many jRPGs, as the combat takes place on a grid-based field. However, we use a different ruleset (there is no hit/miss chances, you can attack both into HP or MP, and paying for powerful attacks in HP) and we use collectible cards in combat (that have powerful effects that can turn the combat around).

EN: During the Kickstarter campaign you said that you're going to put a „level of unpredictability” on the battlefield. Such statement raises many questions for fans of tactical combat, who love to analyze the enemy and plan three moves ahead. What is this „unpredicitible” factor? Can you give us a quick example?

AB: The first unpredictable thing is variability. For example, you can risk everything to use a very strong ability of an archer, but it is also inflict a lot of damage to the archer himself. Thus, you can surprise your enemy with a bold move.

The second unpredictable thing is cards. You get a set of five random cards from your deck before every fight, and these cards could turn your failure into victory. For example, you can swap HP and MP if your unit is almost dead or kill several enemy units with one shot if their health is low. Use cards wise to defeat your enemy adapting your tactic to the random card's set you got, but remember that your opponent also got some aces.