I’ve hated debates with a vengeance and so when this Victorian Steampunk RPG features a debate battle system at its crux, I’m slightly intimidated. It also requires you to talk a lot which can be an issue for the introverted.
But why? Gataela, trading hub and melting point of cultures, may have well recovered as a country in the decade after its civil war but as for its people? Not so much. 19-year old street-smart shop attendant Zack Chen’s made quite a habit of catering to the poor but eventually, even he’s realized that a bigger fix is necessary.
And so he decides to have a little tête-à-tête with the local Lord, but really ends up setting himself up for an adventure that takes him all the way to the Capital. He’s got a few friends to tag along because this trip is indeed massive; a 384,000 x 384,000 pixels large combined overworld with seamless connections between various segments.
But exploration is not so much a priority here as communications is. Specifically, the game encourages you to build a strong argument for your final confrontation with the Lords of Gataela by debating and interacting with the locals.
The first is put into effect by what Atemly Games calls a Debate Battle System; different dialogue choices are presented to the player while a clock runs in the background, often revealing key information about the game world if you play your cards right.
This can be something as simple as a foreigner suggesting their shipping business over the local cargo delivery system, thereby revealing the latter’s flaws. Success in these debates requires a deep understanding of Gataela’s daily life, which is why normal NPC interactions are abundant; in fact, the game seems jam packed with NPC’s most of the time.
Thankfully if you’re horrible at conversing, also included is a normal timed turn-based battle system and crafting mechanics, the latter of which allows mixing gunpowder and science to create flashy firepower even.
Whether these can be used to get out of debates that aren’t going too well however, I’m not too sure. Though there’s incentive provided for well-done conversations in the form of points/experience that can be used to level your party up in skills.
Among other things, skits help lighten the overall mood while divulging more of the protagonists’ personalities, costumes can be changed and I find the overall visual design satisfyingly neat.
Successfully crowdfunded in 2015, which is a statement of just how large the project aims to be, especially when handled by a sole developer. Gataela is precisely 79.2% complete after its recent Otakuthon showing; an updated demo is to be released soon with an older build of 3-5 hours available on itch.io, and the full game listed on Steam.
A mobile release will accompany.
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