RealGamerNewz had the opportunity of speaking with Hunt Game Studios who put is releasing Action RPG Gheldia which will arrive on Xbox 360, Windows PC, and PlayStation Vita this January 2014. A free demo will be released soon during December 2013 giving the world their first playable taste of this indie game influenced by the retro gaming era of Super Nintendo. Take a look at this game and let us know what you think about it, any questions you may have for Hunt Game Studios, and look forward to its upcoming multi-platform release.
Gheldia is a role playing action game (running on a custom game-engine) that takes a note from retro experiences while innovating the gameplay mechanics of the genre in entirely new ways. Presenting its story through a unique combination of lore, hidden easter eggs, exploration causing the tale to unravel the destiny of an anti-hero who wants a more meaningful life in terms of being known and developing skill, as well as visiting towns where the player will experience different races found in the game-world, go to shops, and learn more about what’s going on around them throughout various dialogue segments.
Overall, Gheldia mainly focuses on combat and action. Instead of getting experience and carrying around a million weapons at once, players will enter each session with two weapons. The gameplay starts at a central location and branches out from there. Each level has an exit and a secret exit which can bring players to new levels. Different weapons are used to discover alternative paths through each level which can lead to new levels in the world that otherwise wouldn’t be discovered.
Shards are also found throughout the world which are used to upgrade weapons at a blacksmith. Shards influence the attributes but do not upgrade the weapon itself since you can remove the Shards and the weapon will revert back to its original stats. ‘Beast Mastery’ is earned as a way of leveling up your ability to kill a certain class of enemy based on how many you’ve exterminated thus far. The real-time combat, gameplay mechanics, and graphics / art direction of Gheldia have been influenced greatly by 8-bit and 16-bit role playing games but Gheldia is produced at a higher precision with more animations and a modern twist to the experience. Players essentially pick the path they want to take throughout the world and discover things for themselves. There’s not much hand holding, leaving the fun of progressing through the title to the player rather than too many tutorials. Players will be shown the basics though of course.
Players can evade attacks and strafe while doing battle and trying to seal up the beast lords that have escaped as they take the role of an aspiring slayer named Lor who is on a quest to become renowned and recognized by the world around him. Different races of beings in the game include reptilian ‘lizard men’ and others. The game can be played as a purely action and exploration-based experience but there’s more to the game-world than what meets the eye. Politics include conflicts between humans and other races, among other ongoing issues giving life to the world of Gheldia.
Gheldia’s World Level will increase about four times throughout the game, meaning that the World Level will ping pong between being above, below, above, below (and so on) in regards to the player’s level. The developer aims to avoid the game being too unbalanced by past attempts in the genre which have tried to keep enemies at the exact same level as the player throughout. Instead, this system rewards players that upgrade and work hard while giving the upgrades and then later tests their might with an upgraded world presence afterwards.
The World Level influences monster strength and treasure quality but the monsters themselves don’t have levels. As the player you have a Beast Mastery level over them but it doesn’t dictate their strength – just what you get when they are slain and how much bonus damage you do. The old school feeling when players go through the title is extended through crafting, involving monster materials turned to shards, very effective status ailments, and the real world origin of each power; for example a Scorpion class Toxic Crawler drops an item which is turned to a “Poison Strike” shard that can be embedded into weapons for utilization of a Poison effect.
The abilities that monsters in the game have can be trapped and used by the player thanks to the crystal shards that are used to change the properties of weapons. Levels can be played in any order once discovered, and there is incentive to play again discovering new paths and training with new weapons. The over-arching story sees players defeating 3 main bosses in order to get the barrier to the final boss taken out. The tower called the Serpentine Spire is where things will reach a culmination of events.
RGN: Can you tell us more about the weapons upgrade system and how it works within each level?
Hunt Game Studios: The equipment system in Gheldia has three main parts. Each piece of equipment has its own level that determines its initial stats and number of Shard slots. Equipment can be upgraded at a Blacksmith which will increase the baseline stats and number of Shard slots. The main way you customize your character is by equipping Shards you craft or find into these slots which will grant you stat boosts and new abilities. The last part of the system is related to how many weapons you can bring into a level. Since you can only equip two weapons at a time the paths that are available to you and how difficult the enemies will be depends on what you bring into a level.
RGN: How do players experience the story-line in Gheldia?
Hunt Game Studios: The story in Gheldia mostly unfolds through player interaction. Other than the intro and outro cut scenes the story is discovered by the player. Players are encouraged to talk to every NPC, read every book/journal/map, and to unearth the story on their own.
RGN: Will Gheldia’s PC version be releasing on Steam? Will it support Steam Cloud Saves?
Hunt Game Studios: Gheldia is currently on Steam’s Greenlight service but will also be released through other PC portals. I am interested in implementing Steam specific features but they may be added after its initial release.
RGN: Does Hunt Game Studios plan to have a free playable demo of the game? If so, when can we expect that to release?
Hunt Game Studios: Yes. A playable demo will be available December 2013. The demo will be different from the one shown at PAX with new levels and several other improvements.
RGN: What do you feel is unique about Gheldia and makes it stand out from other games on the market right now?
Hunt Game Studios: The gaming landscape has never been more diversified than it is right now. The spectrum of games has exploded in recent years so I will just focus on the RPG genre. The current trend in RPGs is to incorporate nostalgia and old school mechanics to bring back some lost charm. However, I feel that parodying or referencing these classic games can only take us so far as we need to inject some new ideas or put our own spin on these concepts. With Gheldia we are trying to strike a good balance between classic elements and new or modified ideas.
The story of Gheldia has its share of traditional elements, such as fighting off monsters that were banished long ago, but it also has themes you don’t see in these games often such as political unrest, racial tensions, and a protagonist who isn’t silent or a hero of destiny.
As far as gameplay goes, Gheldia is also more open-ended with the ability to tackle regions in any order along with taking multiple routes through a level. Exploring is highly encouraged with secret paths and secret exits tucked away in every level. The game also abandons the traditional way of leveling up, managing your equipment, and acquiring gold and replaces them with systems that try to convey the story of being a Slayer.
RGN: What are some of the things you can do in Gheldia’s towns?
Hunt Game Studios: There is one major town in each region along with several secret shops. The towns in Gheldia are where the player will go to craft Shards/Fragments, upgrade gear, and sell treasure. Each region has its share of native monsters and the type of crafting recipes available to you differs depending on the town. The secret shops offer the best recipes along with the only place to fully upgrade your equipment so players should be on the lookout for each secret exit.
Also, towns act as the game’s main way of conveying story as they are filled with numerous NPCs and books that players can interact with to learn about its lore.
RGN: Who is the most fun non-boss enemy in the game to play against? (without spoiling anything)
Hunt Game Studios: I’m still adjusting the enemy AI but I’m aiming to have each enemy behave slightly different as they all have their own strengths/weakness, speeds, weapon attacks, spells, etc. Right now I like fighting the skeletal soldiers as they’re the main monster I’ve iterated on.
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Official IGF 2014 Video of Work-In-Progress Game: