IGM Interviews – Dreamlords Digital (Graywalkers: Purgatory)
Ugh, zombies. Enough with the zombies. Seriously, why are you even still watching The Walking Dead? Everyone dies, the end. You really need to wait 10 seasons for that? Anyway, post-apocalyptic zombie romps are old, undead news. Instead, let’s shift focus to an apocalypse that’s based on the supernatural. Enter, Graywalkers: Purgatory, a squad-based tactical RPG that’s nearing the end of a successful Kickstarter campaign. (Like, super nearing the end. Unless you’re reading this hot off the press, the campaign is probably already over.)
Graywalkers takes inspiration from all the classics; Fallout, XCOM, Jagged Alliance, you name it. It also wants to build a name for itself, though, using a very stylized artistic approach, and a rather unique premise for the setting: Heaven, Hell, and Earth have merged due to an incident known as “The Rupture.” (Which, coincidentally, is also the term I use for the “meeting a girl’s parents” stage of a relationship.) To find out more about this bizarre event, and how the development team at Dreamlords Digital plans to make a post-apocalyptic game that doesn’t feel tired from the get-go, I went straight to the source. The heavenly hellacious source. Check it out.
Indie Game Magazine: It’s safe to say that post-apocalyptic games aren’t exactly a rarity in today’s market. What makes Graywalkers fresh, and something folks should keep an eye out for?
Dreamlords Digital: Yes, in today’s market, there are definitely a lot of post-apocalyptic games coming out. There are several things that make Graywalkers different from the current crop of post-apoc games around. First is that the source and nature of our world is supernatural. Most of the post-apocalyptic settings are nuclear based or virus based. Hardly any deal with a supernatural cause. Next, what makes us different is the style we’ve taken with how the game looks. Most games tend for a pure monochromatic look, but we’ve decided to add a dash of color and personality while maintaining the post-apoc aspect. Lastly, is the emergent nature of the game. Our game features a very dynamic world where things you do affect and change the world your characters are in.
IGM: Purgatory is the first installment in a planned series of games. What other cross-media plans are there for expanding the Graywalkers universe?
DD: Well, first of all, Purgatory is the first chapter in the story of Graywalkers. Originally, the game we were planning was really big, but due to us reducing the amount we were trying to raise, we split the game into smaller parts. The next installments in the series will advance the story further into the mythos of the world. With regard to other games, first on the list is the table-top RPG, which we have mentioned on the campaign.
Next, we are planning a mobile game based on the world of Graywalkers. This plan isn’t solid yet, so there’s not much to reveal at this point. Right now, we truly want to focus first on the main game, and later on we may decide to move forward with some of our plans.
IGM: What can you tell us about the world and characters of Graywalkers? What were the events that led up to “The Rupture,” and how has it effected the world’s inhabitants?
DD: The world of Graywalkers is one that is on the brink of extinction. It is a world where supernatural evil have taken root. In Purgatory where the game is set, it is one of the few places on earth where humanity still somewhat can be called “free.” You and your band of heroes that you recruit, must unite all of Purgatory under your banner. These different factions that exist now, all have their own agenda, but it is your responsibility and destiny to get them to fight with you.
As for the events that led to the Rupture, no one truly knows, but it is rumored that the Graywalkers of that time failed to stop the events that led to the Rupture. One thing is for sure though, it was forced by an unknown party who wanted to bring the world to what it is now.
As for its inhabitants, the majority of the world lies in ruin and many of them are dead. Only 1% of the world’s population exist. And among them, they have changed as well: Hybrid races between human and the supernatural have come about. The largest change, in addition to the presence of demons and monsters as a part of life: Magic has also come back, touching everyone’s lives.
IGM: You’ve focused a lot on the hellish creatures that arrived on Earth in the Kickstarter campaign imagery, as well as the Graywalkers, but what about the inhabitants of Heaven? What role will divine or angelic entities play in Graywalkers?
DD: The forces of heaven will play several roles. Some of them will serve as allies, while some may even serve as your enemies, depending on the decisions you make. Angels and the like have been split into several factions, so how you deal with them affects how they will be part of your story. Suffice it to say though, they will be a large part of the story.
IGM: What type of effect will players have on the world? Can you give some examples of the way a player’s actions can impact their experience?
DD: The game world will use an emergent system. This system will be dynamic and it will govern how many of the factions and settlements will act. With players being the center of the story, all your actions affect all other factions positively and negatively, depending on what you do. For example, a town has a food shortage problem. It has several ways to solve this. It can either trade for it, raid for it, or clear a nearby area of monsters and have it made ready to be converted into farmland. If you chose to raid for it, then if you are successful, the settlement you raided will suddenly go into some sort of decline, while the one you worked for will be happy and become more prosperous. Also, many of your decisions on a personal level will have long term effects as well.
IGM: What sort of emphasis will there be on survival, in terms of inventory and party management?
DD: With the game being a post-apocalyptic world, emphasis on survival in terms of inventory and party management is crucial. Having the right items and the right people for the job can make a big difference on how you play the game. We plan to have several toggles for the difficulty levels. There will be many features available such as permadeath, food consumption, weather effects, item maintenance, etc. However, to accommodate those who don’t want this level of detail, it can be shut off and you can play a normal game, wherein you only focus on the big picture rather than deal with these things. In the end, we want to give the player a choice.
IGM: Can you offer any more details about the difference between the Campaign and Freeform modes?
DD: The campaign is of course focused on the story we have laid out for the player. Despite the campaign story being integral, some open-world feel is in the game. You are guided by story milestones and they will send you on to the next part of the story. However, beyond these milestones, you are free to go wherever and do whatever you want. Of course, there will be hints to ensure that you eventually will need to progress with the story. For the campaign, winning comes when you reach the end of the story alive, well, and victorious. For the Freeform mode, the difference is heavily on the goals. There are several victory conditions which you can meet to basically “win.” It can be based on Control, Resources and Power. Once you meet one or more of the conditions, then you essentially “win.” At this point, a lot of the world you will play in will be randomly generated.
IGM: How many different character “Paths” are planned in total? Can you describe the range of specialties and abilities these characters will posses?
DD: There are are about 10 Paths planned, though there are a few more that are available. Not all the Paths are open to player characters. The NPCs cover all the paths, but players can only create characters from about 6 of them for now. The range of specialties is very wide and diverse. Some of these abilities are for survival, some are for defense and some are for offense. Suffice it to say, each character has a set of abilities which makes them stand out from each other. There will be almost 100 abilities(or more) in the game that your characters can possess. Your choice of team members will influence what you can do when encountering problems out in the wastes.
IGM: What sort of customization options will be available to the player when creating their group leader?
DD: We want your avatar (leader) to be really customized. You can customize the gender, race, path, skills and abilities. You will even have merits and flaws that will distinguish you from other characters of the same path and race. You can also customize how your character will look. This includes your hair, skin, face and outfit.
IGM: How do humans stand a chance against demons in the aftermath of the Rupture? Are bullets and traditional weapons effective against them, or do most items have a special enchantment?
DD: With the Rupture, all supernatural creatures that cross over into this world either from Heaven or Hell become mortal. As mortals, they can be killed by traditional weapons. Of course, they are still powerful and possess most of the abilities they had. So if you’re going up against a demon, a pistol might not be good enough, but maybe a rocket launcher might do the trick. Some items, though, are more effective against specific creatures (ex. Silver vs vampires and werewolves, iron vs demons, etc.)
IGM: Can you tell me more about your Crowd Content initiative, and why you decided to pursue this option?
DD: The Crowd Content initiative is meant to allow artists an opportunity to join us and submit their content for use in the game. It will be curated, and those that are chosen and used in the game will be given due credit and compensation via rewards. In some cases, we might end up paying for it outright too, if it’s good enough.
IGM: What made tactical turn-based gameplay the right call for Graywalkers, as opposed to an action-RPG?
DD: Well, I’ve [Bob “Entropy”] always wanted to build a turn-based game. I’m a big fan of this type of game, and in the past decade or so, this genre has pretty much died. We decided we wanted to try and bring it back. With the success of Wasteland 2 and the resurgence of the turn-based RPG or strategy game, we definitely made the right call.
It’s certainly nice to see the turn-based tactical RPG reanimated. Beyond my personal bias of it being one of my favorite gameplay genres, it’s always great when development teams find new ways to breath life into classic game mechanics. Even at an early stage, Graywalkers looks like it will become a fine addition to this cherished game space. If you’d like to keep up with the game’s development, the easiest way is by following the game on Twitter. You can also check out the Graywalkers website for continued updates. Let’s just hope the seemingly inevitable zombie DLC manages to stay buried in the ground.