In 2014, we got the surprise Kickstarter hit, The Banner Saga. It was praised for its challenging combat, engrossing story, and downright beautiful art style. In fact, this art style was loved so much, that another Kickstarter project, Bedlam, is using the same engine that The Banner Saga used. 2D animation is just a delight to see since so much of the animation industry is fixated on using CG or flash animation for different products. Sure, you can make both CG and flash animation look nice, but nothing captures that magical feeling of watching 2D animation on a big/small screen. Don’t get me wrong! I love films like “How to Train your Dragon.” In fact, “How to Train your Dragon” has recently become one of my all-time favorite films, but there is a certain kind of feeling you get from watching something like “Ernest and Celestine” that you won’t get with “How to Train your Dragon.” Now, what does The Banner Saga, and the talk about the different experiences you get between 2D and CG films have to do with today’s Kickstarter? Well, if you love hand-drawn animation and gameplay that reminds you of The Banner Saga, then you should definitely check out Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire. Let’s dive into Whale Hammer Games’ first project, and see why this game deserves a Kickstarter Shout-out!
The story puts you in the shoes of Princess Tahira of Avestan. Avestan is a kingdom to the west of Babylon. Due to an unfortunate sequence of events, you are the last remaining heir of your bloodline. Tahira would rather not sit on the throne and rule her kingdom, so she leaves her land, and journeys to the south. One day, she gets a message that a vast army is traveling across the land, destroying anything in its way. It is up to you to put together an army and some allies to take this massive army down. I want to say how cool of a setup this is. First off, the setting is fantastic. I love that we get this middle-eastern setting since we don’t really get a lot of games that take place there. Second, we have not only a female protagonist, but one of ethnicity, and is forced to be a tactical leader. Sure, she might be a princess and for one reason or another, keep that princess title when there is no king or queen around, but she isn’t going to be some royalty that needs to stay on the sidelines because of political shenanigans or whatever. Her country and kingdom are in danger, and she needs to take action.
Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire is a narrative-driven tactical RPG. You will control Tahira as you travel across a once beautiful, but dying land with your crew of soldiers and allies that will either follow you in your quest or fight alongside you. Battles take place in a grid-based battlefield like in The Banner Saga. You will move your characters across the grid, and attack the different enemies that are set on the field. The Kickstarter explains that the players will need to plan in advance and improvise on the battlefield just in case something happens that catches you off-guard. The missions will have a variety of tasks, like one battle is described as your team defending a village from a group of enemies until all of the civilians have escaped. The battles also seem like they need to be done quickly since the Kickstarter mentions that soldiers will tire as the battles go on. There are also other details about the combat system. The turn system is determined by the character’s speed, no two combat situations are the same, you will have to choose what elements of your troops you want to level up, and you get the idea. Just like The Banner Saga, you will encounter some scenarios while you travel across the land, such as helping out someone with a broken wheel on the carriage instead of going straight to your destination. On top of all of this, this is only episode one of a game, which means if this game is fully funded and is successful, we will get the next part of the game.
Graphically, I love the rotoscoped-animation-look to the overall game. It is definitely very reminiscent of The Banner Saga and Bedlam. It reminds me of a lot of what Ralph Bakshi worked on, like “Fire and Ice.” I love the sound of the music that I have heard so far from the Kickstarter. Games like this really need an immersive soundtrack so you can feel pulled into the game’s world. The music is composed by Max LL. If you want to check out his stuff, you should check out his YouTube page. His music, from what I have heard and listened to from his CD, “End of Certainty”, is really gorgeous. His talent and music easily fits the world that this Kickstarter wants to enthrall you with.
I was originally going to do a concerns section like my other Kickstarters, but I want to instead, use those concerns and ask the developers themselves! That’s right, I am going to interview them! Be on the lookout for that in the future. As of now, I really love this project. I have recently gotten into games like The Banner Saga, so I am happy to see other games have this awesome decision of going with the rotoscoped animated-style, and focus on also having a good narrative experience. The funding goal is $68K, and it is currently over $19K. Once again, be prepared to see me interview the developer behind this game in the near future. All I have to say is, congrats Whale Hammer Games! Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire gets my Official Kickstarter Shout-out!
(If you want to support this project, go to this link!)