Successfully Kickstarted back in 2014, furry manga action-RPG Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is coming up later this year from Enigami and publisher Focus Home Interactive. While certain aspects of the game and its release still aren’t ready to be revealed, Communication Officer William Dartois graciously took a moment to answer some of our questions and share a bit more about the game’s influences, combat system, and imaginary language, among other topics. Visit the official game website at shiness-game.com, keep up to date with the latest news on Twitter @ShinessOfficial, and wishlist the game on Steam.
[Update–8/18/2016] Since press time a new Gamescom trailer (see page bottom) has been released and the release platforms have been confirmed for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
VGBlogger: Is the storyline of Shiness told linearly or are there opportunities to make choices to alter how certain events unfold or lead to multiple ending possibilities?
William Dartois: The main quest is predetermined, although there are multiple ways you can solve most quests. For example, if you help a tribe in a side quest, their members will help you later during the main quest by cleaning a path to the boss for you. These decisions are even more important in the main quest, as they will have an impact on the end of the game.
VGB: About how many hours would you say the game’s story takes to complete?
WD: We estimate approximately 20 hours to finish the main quest and many more to complete the entire game.
VGB: I’ve seen Shiness described as having a “half open world.” What does that mean exactly? Is it all one seamless experience or is it more along the lines of one large hub-like world connected to additional areas/zones to load into?
WD: We have been influenced by both Asian and Western RPGs. There are areas that are totally open world, while others are more scripted, but we tried to always give you the freedom to explore the environments around you.
VGB: How much freedom does the game allow for exploration and side questing?
WD: As said previously, you can resolve the quests in multiple ways, and be able to trek back to discover all the secrets of places you’ve visited previously. You’re always encouraged to explore the world of Shiness, and you will often be given rewards for doing so.
VGB: Will the game allow for continued exploration after the main storyline is completed, or is there a hard “no turning back” moment that ends the game?
WD: We can’t give away any information about the end-game just yet!
VGB: During the Kickstarter the stretch goal for a local PvP versus mode was met but funding fell short on goals for additional features like New Game+ and online co-op and PvP. Have plans changed since then? Is there still a possibility for those features to make it into the game?
WD: We are primarily focused on creating the best RPG possible. We will let you know about our plans for additional game modes at a later date.
VGB: How does the game handle control of the five main characters? Does the story dictate who’s playable at any given time or is there choice to play the character you prefer?
WD: At the very beginning of the game, you can’t choose your playable character. We wanted to show off the capacities of each main character before letting you customize your team. After learning how to use every hero by playing each of them, you will be able to pick your favorites anytime you want.
VGB: Are the battles strictly one-vs-one or are there larger encounters with multiple opponents as well?
WD: It’s always a 1vs1 arena, but you can switch between characters. They can help out during fights, similar to the gambits in Final Fantasy XII. This includes buffing or healing you during combat – and the same goes for the enemies too!
VGB: Does the game have a tag-team mechanic or anything along those lines for doing special attacks with multiple characters, combining Shi elements for different effects, or substituting one character out for another?
WD: We introduced a tactics system, which allows you to set orders to your companions before a fight. For example, if you set « heal the character when HP is below 50% », when you are fighting, if your character HPs drop below 50% another character will automatically heal him. You can also switch between the characters at any time, in the style of a tag team fighting game.
VGB: How are battles triggered? Are they random encounters or do you see enemies roaming the world and get to decide whether to engage or avoid?
WD: In Shiness, you can choose whether you want to engage in a fight or not. You can see your opponents during exploration. If you want to avoid combat, you can sneak past enemies – but be careful, because if they spot or hear you, they will attack!
VGB: How challenging was it to invent a new language just for Shiness and where did the idea come from? Will some form of in-game reference be provided for players who may be interested in learning the language?
WD: Two linguists helped us create the imaginary language of Shiness: the Maherian. It is a blend between several Arabic and African dialects, as well as the Japanese and French languages. We chose these languages because they fit with our major cultural references, both in music and design. By creating our own language, we wanted to increase players’ immersion in our universe, helping to make it a totally unique experience. Thanks to the intricately designed grammar and vocabulary, the Shiness community will even be able to communicate with each other using this language.
VGB: In what ways will the game and companion comic tie together? Will the comic come with the game or be sold as a standalone purchase?
WD: Since the game is based on the comic book, the universe and characters remain the same. They share the same backgrounds, but their stories are very different. The two medias are related, and reading the manga can even help when resolving some puzzles in the game. The comic will be sold as a traditional manga, and like I said, even though the universe is the same, its plot is completely different from the game.
VGB: Are you able to confirm plans for PS4, Wii U, and Xbox One console releases, or will the game be PC/Mac/Linux only?
WD: We are doing our best to please everyone, that’s why the others platforms are yet to be announced.
VGB: Can you provide a general status on how far along the game’s development is and are you able to narrow down when it is projected to launch yet?
WD: We are approaching the end of the development and, if everything goes as expected, Shiness will be released later this year. We want to thank every person who supported and encouraged us during this adventure! We hope you enjoy our game as much as we did creating it.