Hi! Jason Kim here, Creative Director at Cardboard Utopia. We’re super happy to announce that with the help of Square Enix Collective, we are bringing our deck & dice tactical RPG Children of Zodiarcs to PS4 this July for all tactics and strategy fans to enjoy!
Deck & dice tactical RPG? Indeed! Chidren of Zodiarcs combines classic grid- and turn-based combat system with deck building and dice crafting mechanics. The result is a deep strategic gameplay which draws on luck just enough to be exciting, and keeps you glued to your controller while you make tactical decisions, react to new opportunities, and customise your decks and dice to influence luck in your favour.
The story-driven Children of Zodiarcs follows Nahmi and her fellow thieves, who infiltrate the vault of a decadent noble, intending to steal a priceless relic. But what awaits them is more than what they bargained for. Relentlessly pursued by city guards heavily armed with deadly Zodiarc weapons, they are forced to make a desperate escape through gilded palace chambers, sun-drenched slums and dank underground catacombs.
As can be guessed from its hybrid nature, the inspiration behind Children of Zodiarcs came mainly from two places:
I had been craving a good tactical RPG for years, something like the ones I used to play during the 16 and 32 -bit era (looking at you, PSone!). Something turn-based, light-hearted with good character development but which wasn’t filled with an overly serious cast that would probably die if they cracked a smile! Something that had a rich story but also broke away from the norm.
But I couldn’t find all that in the games I was playing.
That’s why the characters in Children of Zodiarcs part with the tradition of the “pure-hearted-heroes-of-destiny”. They don’t try to save the world, so much as survive it.
Their story is a personal one where they’ll have to learn or question the value of friends and family, revenge and compassion, loyalty and survival.
At the same time, I was also really getting into board games and bought a horror adventure game with cards and dice based on several recommendations. I wrangled several friends together and we played a few sessions. Unfortunately, none of us really liked it… But it was really too bad because I LOVED its game mechanics!
I loved the excitement of drawing cards, choosing which items to buy, and rolling the dice to determine the outcomes of your actions. That’s when I realised I wanted to take these feelings of tension, anticipation and surprise of this game and bring them into the realm of video games.
Of course, that’s easier said than done!
Such a hybrid didn’t exist, so we couldn’t rely on looking at other games to figure out how to build our systems. But we knew these mechanics had to work in synergy, to complement each other and not just to be awkwardly crammed together for the sake of having more features.
Luckily, Cardboard Utopia is made of several veterans of the AAA industry whose experience was really helpful during the prototyping process. So slowly, through careful, weekly iterations, we discovered the features we needed to add or remove to get the experience we wanted to create.
A good example of that is how we pretty much always knew that we wanted the dice roll to be realistic, but it’s through the prototyping process that we figured out that making the dice symbol-based, instead of number-based, and adding a dice reroll system just made everything “click” and come together. Now, dice rolling became an integral part of the strategic gameplay, where your decisions matter and can turn the tides of battle!
We’ve taken the game around to several events, like PAX East and Dreamhack Montreal, and the reception has been amazingly positive! So if you too are excited to get in on this new take on tactical action, make sure to check out Children of Zodiarcs when it launches in July, 2017!