Following the massive success of Threes in 2014, which some argue is one of the finest puzzle games of all-time, designer Asher Vollmer put together Sirvo Studios, a small development studio aiming to make something a bit bigger in scope than the modest Threes. That something turned out to be Guildlings, a game about which there were precious few details. We covered those breadcrumbs last March, but now we have some more substantial information to share.
Guildlings will follow the adventures of Coda, a young, homeschooled kid who contracts a powerful curse from a mysterious smartphone. Coda will have to recruit friends gifted with magic, the titular Guildlings, and embark on a road trip to lift the curse and save the realm of Worldaria. Sirvo based the magic in Worldaria on the strength of the emotions felt by the magic wielder. If the one casting magic doesn't feel right, then the magic isn't right. This means that players will need to be attentive to the different emotional states of their allies while trying to solve the problems plaguing the land. Picking the right conflict and dialogue options to keep Coda's friends in the best frame of mind to tackle a given problem certainly sounds interesting. It's a system that encourages empathy and creativity, with multiple solutions to many of the problems Guildlings sets before the player.
If the basic story pitch sounds like a setup for an old-school JRPG, well... Sirvo has said that it drew a lot of inspiration from the genre to create Guildlings. Specifically, it's designed to be a cross between that classic gaming genre and the more modern incarnation of adventure games with branching story paths and silly puzzle solutions.
The studio is well aware that many people might reflexively recoil from an RPG designed for mobile from the ground up. However, they want to assure players that Guildlings isn't a snoozy grindfest or a facade of charm hiding manipulative design to milk microtransactions. Instead, Sirvo has chosen to release several episodes of Guildlings to help keep the focus of the RPG squarely on its charming world and narrative.
While traditional JRPG fighting doesn't seem to be highlighted in the trailer, Sirvo has opted to go non-traditional. Instead of a combat system that has only been built around the idea of fighting until one side or the other has perished, the devs crafted something a bit more flexible. How it works will probably require some hands-on time to fully understand, but essentially each encounter has a set number of turns represented by pages. Those turns can have different actions for your Guildlings to take that include reducing the number of turns for the encounter, protecting characters, or altering the final outcome of the encounter. Sirvo believes that this system can be applied to a wide variety of conflicts that range from a traditional fight to battling a horrendous stench, or staying awake through a boring story told at a fancy dinner. How well it will work in practice remains to be seen, but anything that might be able to freshen up an old-as-dirt genre mechanic is worth paying attention to in my book.
So, yeah, I'm really looking forward to this delightful-looking game that mixes the shenanigans of a modern road trip with swords and sorcery. Take a bit of Harry Potter, a smidgen of Earthbound, a pinch of Sorcery!, and a dollop of wonderment taken straight from Hayao Miyazaki. Mix it all up with whatever creative energy and game design chops Sirvo has been cooking with up until this point and you've got Guildlings.
No release date has been announced yet, but expect to see the title's initial release by late summer or early fall of this year for iOS and Android devices.
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