Like Daedalic Games? Four More Coming This Year
Memoria, a Story of Two Characters Separated by Centuries
Second on the list of adventure titles coming this year is Memoria, a game that’s something of a direct sequel to Daedalic’s The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav. Memoria features the protagonist of Chains of Satinav, Geron, as one of its main characters, but as writer and lead designer Kevin Mentz explained, Memoria is more of a standalone game than a sequel dependent on the story of the previous title.
Memoria operates on its own largely because it tells two stories wrapped together, one of which takes place some 500 years before the other. Mentz took journalists through a short demo that showed off the story of Sadja, a princess who set out centuries ago to become a great hero in a war against an army of demons. Something happened along the way, though, and Sadja’s story was lost to history.
The hands-off demo we saw took place in the tomb of an ancient wizard that Sadja and an expedition of other characters had been raiding in search of a powerful artifact. Along the way, the other members of the expedition were killed, and Sadja was sealed inside the tomb. What we saw of the game had Mentz solving puzzles with the help of a powerful magic staff Sadja had discovered in the tomb — a staff that actually held the spirit of an unknown, possibly evil but still funny and charming, man.
Memoria’s major mechanic in the portion we saw had Sadja solving puzzles by using the staff to animate objects, namely a bunch of huge stone golems that served as guards for the tomb. Animating them lets Sadja control how they interact with different elements in the puzzle: Mentz showed Sadja using items like a ball and chain in the room she was stuck in, throwing it to a golem, which then threw it much further and helped to tear through a doorway so she could escape.
Like other point-and-click adventure titles, Memoria is built on hotspots, but the demo still suggested a game in which players will have to pay close attention and think critically to solve problems. What we didn’t see was the other half of the game, in which Geron tries to solve the mystery of what happened to Sadja. Mentz described that part of the game as more of a detective story, where Sadja’s portion is more of an epic. Each new chapter will flip to the other character, he said, and their stories will influence one another over time.
And unlike Deponia, expect Memoria to be a dark and perhaps more complex tale when it becomes available for PC and Mac this fall, Mentz said.
Blackguards, An RPG with Point-and-Click Sensibilities
Memoria and Chains of Satinav both take place in The Dark Eye’s universe, which Daedalic PR Director Claas Wolter described as the German equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s an extremely popular pen-and-paper game in the country, and Daedalic is taking advantage of those roots with another game set in The Dark Eye universe coming out this year: Blackguards.
Unlike Daedalic’s other offerings, Blackguards stands apart — it’s not a point-and-click adventure title, it’s a turn-based, tactical RPG with The Dark Eye’s pen-and-paper elements baked in. It’s also Daedalic’s first turn in the genre, and it’s clear that the company’s adventure roots are influencing the project in some potentially cool ways.
Blackguards is the story of a man who witnesses the death of his friend, Eleanor, the wife of the local duke, who is murdered by some sort of wolf creature. Wrongly accused, he finds himself imprisoned, tortured, and awaiting execution. In making his escape, he teams with a dwarf and a mage, both of whom are convicted criminals, as they set out to gain their freedom and learn what really happened to Eleanor.
Daedalic knows that one of its big strengths is in story, and there’s quite a bit on offer in Blackguards, from what Wolter showed off in the hands-off demo of the game. Expect lots of multiple-choice dialog options and conversations in addition to strategic fights.
Battles take place on hex grid battle maps, in which each character takes turns moving around the board, executing actions, using attacks and possibly interacting with the environment. Strategic gameplay is a big part of the title, Wolter said: you’ll need to take advantage of the environment to keep your characters alive, and you can efficiently take down enemies if you’re able to use things like falling chandeliers or piles of boxes to block or injure them.
The adventure game influences are heavy on Blackguards, though, and that’s perhaps to its benefit. Players don’t bother exploring a world map or wandering from place to place; instead, the only real movement is done on battle maps, and traveling between locations takes place on a larger map with only certain destinations available.
When players get to towns, Blackguards even more closely resembles an adventure game, with certain areas of the screen representing hotspots that can be entered or interacted with. You’ll be able to strike up conversations and do things like stay at inns, but the majority of those interactions will be relatively simple and take place on menus or in conversations. Wolter said the idea of using hotspots was meant to drive players to focus on story progress and tactical battles, rather than on exploring corners with nothing in them.
Though Blackguards will make navigating and talking with people simple to execute, what you do beyond that will be a little more involved. Wolter showed off multiple choice dialog menus that players can use to choose how characters interact with one another, and you’ll want to think carefully about what you say and to whom.
“We will be able to drive the relationships between each character,” Wolter said. “That said, they’re all criminals. They’re all in prison for a reason. They all have a very, very dark side. … There’s a lot of friction between these characters. And you can make some characters say some things to other characters that create a certain relationship that will make the story branch off in so many ways. It gives us the chance to explore so many different things, like different endings for the game. Relationships and events also trigger side quests.”
Wolter also showed another instance in which a woman, who had a relationship with Zurbaran, one of the party members, was being hanged by a group of bandits. With only five turns to free the woman, the player had to act fast and fight past a number of enemies. How that particular battle plays out affects the player’s future relationship with Zurbaran, Wolter said, so failure could potentially drive the character to leave or change what side quests become available. Friendly fire is also an issue in Blackguards, which means characters can accidentally injure one another — and if you are too careless beating on your own guys with area effect spells, that can affect their relationship with you, too.
Blackguards is due by the end of the year, Wolter said, and players can expect some 40 hours of gameplay from the title and about 190 of the game’s battle maps to fight through and learn.