March 28, 2014 6:45 PM | Lena LeRay
The legends of King Arthur and of the holy grail have seen many reincarnations in all forms of media. France-based development studio Lugludum is trying to bring those old legends to life in the form of a tactical RPG called Graal Seeker. Rather than putting the player into a pre-defined story, they'll be using procedurally generated maps and permadeath to make every playthrough a unique quest for the Holy Graal in medieval Britain.
Gameplay will have three phases: exploration, event management, and battle. In the exploration phase, players will choose and move to a destination on a procedurally generated world map. The second phase will be where the story happens; some of the events that come up will be completely random, but the player's previous choices will have an effect on what kinds of events come up and what they can do within the scope of the event. Every round ends with a battle phase, and the player goes through round after round until the entire party is dead or the Graal has been found.
The game is still early in development and the details of the battle system aren't set in stone, though Lugludum founder Ludovic Bas did tell me some things about it. Bas was careful to point out that Graal Seeker differs from other grid-based games such as Fire Emblem by hiding battle stats such as chance to hit and projected damage. "In Graal Seeker... you have to learn by experience. Furthermore, the system is faster because it's real-time with a pause option." Fighters will automatically attack when in range, leaving the player in charge of movement and the use of special abilities. Some special abilities will activate instantly and have a cooldown timer, but others will just require time to prepare or cast and could be interrupted.
Although the game is set in Britain, there will be magic. "I'm trying to stay close to all Matter of Britain's sources, and there are a lot of magic in it," says Bas. "So magic is part of the battle mechanics. For example, the druid casts a spell to bring up roots and block an opponent, and then the knight attacks him in the back to [cause] more damage." Another way Lugludum will stay true to the old legends is to have the Graal take on different forms depending on the choices the player made over the course of the game.
None of the units in the player's party will have a pre-determined personalities or backgrounds. They are simply a group of people who have come together for the purpose of finding the Graal. The player will be able to name the units, but will also have the freedom to imagine stories for them the way one can in FTL. That was one of FTL's strengths, and it seems like it has the potential to be a strength for Graal Seeker, too. By keeping the characters empty and making the game revolve around the player's choices, Lugludum is setting Graal Seeker up to let players write their own epic quests to find the Holy Graal.