While at PAX East we took a look at a new title, from Cardboard Utopia under the indie publisher Square Enix Collective, called Children of Zodiarcs. The game is a Tactical RPG that uses a deck & dice system that give it the feel of a single player board game.
The game’s storyline, according to Carboard Utopia: “Nahmi and her companions go on a mission to steal a priceless relic of a decadent noble, but what awaits them is more than anyone bargained for… Relentlessly pursued by city guards heavily armed with deadly Zodiarc weapons, they are forced to make a desperate escape through gilded palace chambers, sun-drenched slums and dank underground catacombs. As they city guards, battle rival bandit gangs, and even a clan of subterranean cannibals, it becomes clear that they have only each other to depend on. To emerge victorious, they will need to trust one another and use everything at their disposal, making choices that no one should have to make.”
Similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, the game uses grid-based combat arenas for the main action of the game. Players will face off against an Ai in skirmishes using cards in their hand to to attack or defend. Once you’ve selected an action you throw the dice and their results add to the card’s effect.
The really unique thing about Children of Zodiarcs is that you can loot dice and augment the dice you already have to make it easier to roll what you want.
The dice rolling mechanic is physics based so the dice roll realistically. This means you have to be careful where you toss them on-screen as they will knock into walls, background objects and each other. You also have the ability to customize your deck of cards. The cards themselves represent characters’ weapons and abilities so you have a lot of control over how your characters play.
The customization screens
Cardboard Utopia originally Kickstarted the game and managed to make over five times their goal. Now partnered with the Square Enix Collective they will be releasing Children of Zodiarcs on to PlayStation 4, PC and Mac later this year.
“What we’re creating at Cardboard Utopia is a game crafted with love and care to recapture the spirit of the Tactical RPGs of our youth; the same kind of games Square Enix has been publishing for decades”,said Jason Kim, Creative Director at Cardboard Utopia. “For us, we could not have found a more fitting partner than Square Enix Collective to help us bring Children of Zodiarcs to market”.“
Game Designer Axel Baldoni “It’s been a while since a good, original IP Tactical RPG has been released. Children of Zodiarcs has everything we love about the genre and then some: we’ve paired an original, fun and dramatic story with a combination of tactics, cards and dice to enhance the traditional strategic gameplay in a way gamers haven’t experienced before.”
Andrew: I think it looked great. I loved the combination of cards/dice and tactical strategy. I know that the dice-rolling interface will feel great on a touch-screen, even though it was the slightest bit awkward with an analog. But the fact is it looks and feels awesome, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished product!
Jess: This game is looking pretty darned awesome. I am very excited about the dice customization. Children of Zodiarcs looks like it will be a great middle ground between board games and video games. Square Enix has dipped their toes into this territory before by integrating smaller games within their larger titles, but it is great to see the card and dice mechanics becoming a main element of a AAA title.