In 2020, Dreams Uncorporated, SYCK, and Modus Games will bring Cris Tales to the world, giving people a chance to go through an RPG where Crisbell, a Time Mage, can see and interact with the past, present, and future to stop the Time Empress and try to ensure a brighter tomorrow. This means altering the flow of time in fights, to determine if you are fighting an older or younger version of a foe, or sending Matias the Frog into the future to acquire a much-needed item. To help get a better idea of what went into the game’s design, Siliconera had a chance to speak with Dreams Uncorporated CEO Carlos Rocha Silva about Cris Tales’ art and design.
Siliconera: How did Colombian art and architecture influence Cris Tales?
Carlos Rocha Silva: Colombian art had some influence in the game inevitably, since it’s our home country. But as a direct reference, we’ve had a lot more influence from cartoons from all over the world, like old Disney, Samurai Jack, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and even some anime and references from the old RPGs. We thought it would be fantastic to have Colombian culture and architecture play a part as well, since we know a lot of places in Colombia that seem to come out of old fairy tales, and beg to be in a fantasy story. So, we decided to create our own fantasy based on Colombian heritage, including clothes, and of course, the natural spectacles we find in different parts of the country.
It seems like a lot of characters and enemies have certain colors used in their designs. How did you decide which colors to use and are there any deeper meanings to certain palettes?
The colors respond to lots of the places we’re taking inspiration from; so, for instance, the coastal Colombian cities have brighter colors than other places. From an aesthetic perspective, we wanted to have a very colorful world, but also, from a mechanical perspective, this impacts the narrative. For example, we used different color palettes to communicate we’re in a different time period, or that a character is poisoned.
When going through an area, people see every time period at once, due to the crystal overlay. How did you decide on the perspective and did you immediately know this was how you wanted Cris Tales to look?
Not at all; we were prototyping this a few years ago, and it was due to the really difficult task of imagining a game where you could actually see the three time periods at the same time. We didn’t know how to show that idea, so we started using a lot of placeholders to make that idea a clearer one, and after a lot of prototyping, it just clicked. We even knew this was the right perspective before we knew the game was going to be an RPG.
Cris Tales involves the ability to see into the past, present, and future, with areas and enemies looking different depending on their “age.” How did you determine which architectural influences would be used for each period?
That had more to do with the narrative elements we wanted to include in the game, and how natural they would feel within the game. Cathedrals, for instance, are a really important part of Cris Tales, so it was more a question of how do we create different time periods for this place, and what do we want to say in those time periods?
Could you give an example of how you would make a character or enemy design and then present its different stages of life?
It’s really thought out from a mechanical perspective; for instance, we can have an enemy that’s infected in the present, but that infection was created in the past, and in the future, it creates a completely rampaged beast. It’s more a question on how do we imagine an enemy through different moments in time? What’s that enemy trying to tell us? What’s his story? Imagine an enemy that is a brute in the past, but through time it evolves, and it becomes a magician in the future, then in the present it would be a mixed warrior, having some brute force, but also some magic at his disposal.
Many of the characters look like they stepped out of medieval mythology. Where did you draw inspiration for some of the enemy characters and designs, like the Volcano Sisters?
Well, we didn’t purposely go for the medieval mythology, actually; it was more to serve a narrative purpose. But to be honest, it could definitely be an inspiration from the many anime series and movies we’ve seen over the years, which of course, have a very decent dose of medieval mythology!
Which character went through the most changes during the creation process, and why?
It’s funny you ask that. Crisbell is the character that has been drawn the most, yet has mostly remained the same since the first draft – for reasons that can’t be yet stated, unfortunately. We hope we can talk about it more as the game gets closer to its release date. Other characters that were completely different were the Volcano Sisters. They were just one character at some point in time, but fortunately for our fans, it seems this has changed for the better.
Crisbell will be able to make decisions that can alter the future and influence of the Ash Blight. How many different designs and changes did you have to create to take into account everyone’s possible choices?
Well, we want to give the player a lot of options, but not in just one aspect of the game. So, it’s not only about one choice at one point in the game, it’s about how that connects to the other choices you’ll make through the whole of the game. So, you can have different results in the world around you, not in just one single moment. That is the challenging part, because we have to limit those choices at some point… you’ll just have to wait and see if the balance we’re finding is the right one; we hope it is!
Cris Tales will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2020.