One of the games for which I saw the longest queues in the Rezzed section over the course of my EGX adventure was Tears of Avia, a tactical RPG with anime-ish elements. It’s currently on Kickstarter. I passed by the stall and looking over people’s shoulders I saw bits of the gameplay and it was a style I was familiar with and knew I liked, a style all of you who ever played Final Fantasy Tactics will also recognise.
Tears of Avia’s world combined some of the more traditional Swords & Sorcery aesthetics with Japanese ones. You have knights with big swords living in towns with wooden red bridges over ponds and causeways and cherry blossoms swirling in the air. The Anime elements are most clear not only on character design but also on the outrageous weapons designs and some of the world-building. For example, one of the promotional images show a series of flying city-ships that remind me a lot of Kyoukaisen-jou no Horizon aka Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, as they follow the same overall style of one giant ship followed by many smalls ones, though Tears of Avia’s follow the same fantastic mix of aesthetics I mentioned above.
The lore, according to the Kickstarter page:
“Over 200 years ago a war was waged against the floating city of Avalon lead by the demonic overlord Vylenkine. A powerful mage stood up against his evil forces and cast a spell that would seal the portals to the demonic realms forever. Except… there was a problem. The city froze and crashed along with the love of his life, Avia. For hundreds of years he has been seeking a way to free Avia with little success. That is until you came…”
I will admit that I didn’t get a chance to talk to Tears of Avia’s developer, Andy Livy, during EGX, but he was kind enough to send me a preview build of the game and answer my questions over email, so I’ve managed to do what I couldn’t during EGX: actually play Tears of Avia.
One of the things their Kickstarter campaign mentions that I find extremely interesting is their focus on “builds” and party composition. Tears of Avia isn’t a game where you just put together a bunch of characters together, boost their skills and send them out. Instead, you need to take care to give them synergistic skills, so they actually function well as a group in combat. As a D&D player and game master, this is extremely appealing as synergy in a group can often mean the difference between clearing that cave of bandits, or getting robbed and killed.
For example, the build I received starts in a mine and you’re surrounded by monsters. The Warrior, Kai, has a skill that deals some damage but if the enemies are bleeding, then it deals even more. The Ranger beside you has a bunch of bleeding skills. So by combining your melee and ranged characters’s skills you can take out the enemies efficiently. The “Wizard” type character on the other hand didn’t have much to add to the group’s efforts other than a fire buff to attacks. This showed how composition affects gameplay. I thought of pair-strategies for two of them while the others remained isolated in their efforts.
But Tears of Avia’s party composition isn’t just for combat. Each character has a distinct personality and it will mesh or clash with the rest, so your party could be brilliant in terms of mechanics, but if the characters don’t get along, the tension will influence the party’s stories and the way they experience the plot. Again, this takes me to my roleplaying love and it makes this title even more interesting. I asked Andy if this would eventually affect the party mechanically, and while he comments that many people have mentioned this as a mechanic to him, myself included, he feels it would make people always choose the harmonious team and miss out on other story aspects.
From what little I played, I want to know more. I’ll be honest and I fear the game will fall into common Anime tropes and clichés, but I won’t judge Tears of Avia until I have seen more. The gameplay elements caught my attention and I hope they pull off this ambitious title.