Ten years ago, the king of Gataela suddenly passed away, thereby leaving a void of power and causing a catastrophic, abrupt civil war. Now, the nation is restored to its former prosperity — but uneasy lies the head that wears a new crown, and the scars the war left on those who lost the most are still fresh.
Gataela is a JRPG-inspired indie RPG from developer #AtemlyGames focusing heavily on the idea that knowledge gained from the everyday can shape a country’s present and future, for better or worse.
Unable to stay silent in defiance of his friends’ impossible struggles, Zack Chen, a poor orphan working in the town square, decides to take action and speak for those who cannot. His journey to visit his Lord begins simple enough, however it soon spirals into a quest for justice lifting him far above the streets of home.
On his path, Zack will encounter like-minded individuals from all walks of life who will join his party, yet their good intentions may well fan the old flames of war.
This is where the game’s key mechanic, debating and interacting with NPCs, takes center stage. The steampunk scenes of Gataela are buzzing with life, people jostling and bustling to make ends meet. They may absentmindedly comment on the trading company anchored in the port, an invaluable opinion that reveals a weakness in the merchant’s cavalier refusal to debate with you.
Moments like these provide you the edge in verbal conflicts. Additionally, they serve to emphasize the aftereffects of war, that these go beyond the protagonist’s experience, and infuse into everyday encounters. The developer Paige Marincak states that “Gataela is a game about communication,” and it certainly seems it in more ways than one.
As Zack wanders through Gataela and meets new and familiar faces, there is an admirable dedication to theme and setting that never falters. Dialogue between characters is punctuated by the adorable chatter of a typewriter, and each character has their own distinct and memorable style. Whether appearing as a sprite or in a skit, Zack’s outfit and design complements his surroundings and era, along with his motley crew of friends.
Customization of play is another important feature — there are three difficulty levels, text speed options and the ability to switch from right- to left-handed mode on tablet. Moreover, the game grants the ability to swap out members of your party and specialize their skills with point allocation upon each level up. And perhaps most importantly, costumes can be collected throughout your travels to personalize your party even further!
The scale and diverse environments of the game’s overworld do not overshadow its inhabitants, and is accompanied by nostalgic and summery music. Marincak not only writes the game’s storyline and programming but also streams her work on its Twitch channel, which is perfect for those invested in the game, Gataela’s new fans and those who are learning to code with Cocos2dx.
It’s clear that Gataela has the ambition and scope to become a unique indie hit, and based on the slice the demo offers, I’m sure it will deliver.
If you like Eternal Sonata, Professor Layton, Tales of, detailed characterization and meaningful narrative choices, you should definitely take a gander at Gataela.
Creator: Atemly Games
Genre: JRPG-inspired RPG
Platforms: PC, iOS and Android
Release Date: 2018