Even before browser-based card battling game Unlight had been published in North America, it managed to accumulate two million players across Japan, Taiwan, Korea, France, and Thailand. This popularity has ensured it’s now the top grossing Facebook game in Asia.
To discover what has made Unlight so popular, Siliconera caught up with Akihiro Ishikawa. He is the producer of the game at Japanese studio Techway Corporation. He talks about the appeal of the game’s card art work and its Japanese gothic world, as well as how it found a very active cosplaying scene in Taiwan.
Could you first give us an overview of what Unlight is?
Akihiro Ishikawa, producer: Unlight is a collectible card battle game that is set in a medieval gothic world. Each card has a specific tactical strength and players can strategically combine these cards to battle with opponents. The players will also get an engaging story for all 60+ characters!
Being more specific, how do players collect new cards and then develop them while playing the game?
Players will be able to obtain each card through a single player mode called “Quest,” and the cards can be leveled up by battling with other players!
What are the various ways players can interact with each other? Can they only battle in PvP or are there more friendly options too?
We have a Facebook page for our fans. Players will be able to use the Facebook page to get more information about the game and they can also use it to communicate with other players. We are also planning to launch “raid” mode. Players can join together as a team and defeat bigger enemies. You will also be able to team up with your friends and defeat bosses that you summon for raid mode!
You say that Unlight is the top grossing Facebook app in Asia. What is the range of premium content you offer players and what’s the most popular purchase?
The appeal of the game comes from an American comic book inspired gothic art work, which is the work of an illustrator named Miya. When players obtain rare cards, each character’s unique and engaging stories will be revealed. Players will gradually find out the relationships and histories behind the characters in the game. Fans have told us that they feel like they are reading a suspense mystery novel with surprises and twists but overall it is a heart-warming story. I can say that the captivating story and well-developed characters are what make Unlight popular amongst the fans.
Fans and players really enjoy PvP! The battle system is not as simple as “having a strong set of cards guarantees you a win.” Even if you don’t have strong cards, you can overturn the battle by how you combine your cards and the order of cards you use. We believe that Unlight is as strategic as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, and Magic the Gathering. Which is another reason that made Unlight so popular.
Interestingly, Unlight is set in a medieval gothic world. Why did you choose that theme? And did you make any creative decisions that, perhaps, would make medieval Europe more appealing to Asian players?
The world of Unlight is illustrated as “the world where civilization has been completely destroyed” and we did not focus on a specific time in the medieval period. A Victorian world setting and a futuristic-steampunk world co-exist in Unlight. In Japan, Gothic is understood as dark and extreme. The world of Unlight is chaotic and the story is as dark as it can be…
Unlight has a big cosplay following around parts of Asia. Did you encourage this or did fans start it themselves? And do you now work with them to organize events and set up competitions or anything like that?
The whole cosplay community for Unlight was started by a group of fans. We are very grateful to see that the fans have started cosplay communities worldwide. We would like them to enjoy and experience the world of Unlight however they would like to!
You’ve recently brought Unlight over to North America. Were there any changes or new features that you had to make outside of translating the game for US players?
For the new players, we’ve adjusted the ratio of stronger cards to be released. However, we did not change anything as far as the game system. In the future, we would like our games to be played by everyone in the same environment and rules.
Do you think you’ll ever consider bringing Unlight Trinity (the mobile version) over to the west?
We are currently discussing the possibility of a mobile version.
Message for the readers: Unlight was first developed by a 5 employee-company, but we’ve come this far to be able to release it in North America. We would like to thank you and the fans for the support! We are currently working on the translation for the NA version and we would love to get help from everyone. If you are interested in working on the translation of Unlight as a volunteer, please contact us at [email protected] We’ll be happy to send goodies or items in exchange of your help!