Interview: Legends Of Amberland 2 Is A Real Throwback To The Classic RPG Era
Legends of Amberland 2: The Song of Trees
Legends of Amberland 2: The Song of Trees is a classic Western RPG, and if you want to take a trip back to that era of video gaming, then this title will be your ride there. It takes inspiration from old RPGs like Might & Magic, Ultima, Wizardry series, and, of course, the Gold Box series. These are some games that predate many of today’s gamers and have been collecting dust.
Fortunately, video game developers like Chris Koźmik are keeping the tradition alive by creating titles like Amberland that pay homage to an era of gaming now forgotten. Taking this ripe opportunity, I interviewed the primary developer of Legends of Amberland 2 and asked him several questions regarding the game’s inspirations and modern RPGs.
Could you introduce yourself and tell us about Legends of Amberland II?
I’m Chris Koźmik, an indie developer from Poland. I make turn-based RPGs and strategies for PC, which sometimes get ported to consoles. Legends of Amberland is my second major series, the other being Stellar Monarch. It’s a classic RPG, straight from the 90s era. It grew from my personal nostalgia for the old games I played back then.
While Legends of Amberland II takes innovation from the classic RPGs of the 90s, were there any modern games that you drew inspiration from?
Chris: Actually none. It’s a weird thing, but I stopped playing RPGs like 20 years ago, so I mostly ‘make those from memory.’ Somehow, I lost the urge to play them, while I still play strategies without losing the urge to make them. Which is a rare combination. Maybe it’s because those RPGs were different back then? No clue. But I draw a lot of inspiration from board games, which have tons of unique modern mechanics. Overall, board games are far more advanced than computer games in terms of design, and you can really learn a lot of tricks from those. Especially when it comes to reducing information overload, which is critical to board games since there is no computer to make the calculations. I think, in some abstract sense, the encumbrance system was inspired by board game mechanics.
It is your first title that comes with custom music. How was the music-making process for you, and will you go for it again in a future title?
Chris: A pretty interesting experience for me. I gave the overall directions and requested a certain ‘mood,’ and Christopher Loza, the musician, made it to fit it. Then it went to testing. I relied upon the feedback, and he iterated a new version of the tunes. It was not a typical music-making process, I think, because of the requirement to make it both sound like those old games (synth) and still be of modern quality. So, some sort of filters were used, but those filters had bugs, there were problems with noise, etc. In the end, it all went well, but I think it was more complicated than a typical custom music-making process. As for the future, it depends. For the Amberland series, I definitely plan to stick to custom music for other games, dunno.
Your previous games have had an Early Access release, but not Legends of Amberland II. Why is that?
Chris: Several reasons. First, it’s a sequel to an RPG, so the code, which is most prone to bugs and other problems, was mostly ready and well-tested. Second, I had gathered a group of dedicated testers I could rely on, so no Early Access became a viable option. The last reason was that the production was shorter than the production of a typical game since I was preparing for a sequel when I was making the first one of the series. So there was no time frame wide enough to warrant a proper E.A. Oh yes, the last, last reason was that maybe I wanted to experiment a bit and see what would happen if I went straight for a full release.
What has the reception been like for the game? Did you make any significant changes from the earlier demo release?
Chris: The first Amberland reached 93% positive ratings on Steam and got 7th place as GOTY on RPGCodex forums. So, the sequel being an improvement of an already well-received game, where I was also actively focusing on improving what’s poor and strengthening what’s good, was an easy ride on that matter. I mean, if you start with a game that has such good reception and you make a direct sequel, you really, really had to mess up to make it bad. Such things are only possible in the corporate world when IP changes ownership and the new management wants to make changes. The only thing I was worried about was that a sequel might sell worse for the pure reason of being a sequel. Or maybe that player would get tired of the formula. Fortunately, I have noticed no such trend. Yes, there were many improvements compared to the demo, but I hope to update the demo to v1.00 in the near future to reflect the changes properly. Still, even the current, somewhat outdated demo is very representative of how the game looks and plays.
Since this is a sequel to the 2019 Legends of Amberland, I must ask, what is something new that this game offers that is not present in the prequel?
Chris: Well, that’s the moment I’m usually forced to explain that there are significant changes because, on the surface, those games look very similar. Especially since the UI improvements are being gradually backported to the previous game. In short, there are tons of improvements aimed at improving the overall gameplay and experience, but those do not work that well from a marketing point of view. Unless you played the game, you would not see any difference from the screens. But if you played, you would say it was greatly improved. For example, locations can now have multi-exist and inter-location portals. This change alone made possible a much more interesting topography of the world, with teleports inside other locations, two-way caverns you need to traverse and so on. There are other changes as well, such as item systems, resistances, and many more. But the real beauty of those changes is in the synergy between those. For example, now fountains can provide temporary resistance, and the griffin no longer can land on lava, and lava damage was also resting is no longer allowed on lava, and there are Insulated and Levitation item traits which can be used to traverse lava zones safely. All those combined result in a much, much more interesting experience when exploring lava zones.
There aren't many games that give the classic RPG era vibe as the Amberland series does. I am curious why you decided to go in this direction and why you think other developers don't.
Chris: I think the main reason is age. Developers are too young to play those games back then. The oldest game they can remember is Legend of Grimrock, which is basically Dungeon Master. Combined with the fact that this is the only game of the dungeon crawlers subgenre that was really popular in modern times, everyone tries to copy it. I mean, how many people out there played Crystals of Arborea or Obitus? And no, you can’t really play those nowadays because those are totally unplayable by today’s standards. Unless you played them back then, you won’t know them. So, everyone is making Dungeon Master clones, leaving the vast area of all the other sub-sub genres of the era covered in dust.
Legends of Amberland II will be coming to Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles next year, but is there a more specific release window that you might be able to give us?
Chris: Unfortunately, I can not give you a specific date at this point.
Can we expect Silver Lemur Games to continue expanding the series with possible entries or DLCs?
Chris: Possibly. Depending on sales, Legends of Amberland III might or might not enter production. But I’m quite optimistic. I would speculate that the 2026-2028 time slot could be allocated to the next one of the series. But I have not decided yet.
Do you plan on expanding the studio anytime soon to make bigger-scale projects?
Chris: Not really. At one point, I decided to stay indie forever, which gave me a competitive advantage and allowed me to focus my effort properly. I mean, if you made up your mind about who you are and you are not distracted with things like the IPO of your company and investor relations, you can truly focus on doing well whatever you do. That being said, I might be hiring some extra freelancers or designers or someone. I already have a small group of those around, some one-time, some short-term, and some long-term. But as for turning into a proper studio with dozens of full-time employees and all, the mayhem involved, nope, no way.
The demo of Legends of Amberland II: The Song of Trees is currently out on Steam and GOG. As for the Nintendo Switch and Xbox versions, they are planned for sometime next year, but an official date will be given by Chris once they are done being ported by Pineapple Works.
Shoaib Rashid is a passionate Gamer and an experienced writer who has been covering the Gaming Industry for over 3 Years. He started his career as a freelance journalist, writing reviews, previews, news, guides, and features for various industries. He joined VA Gaming as a Writer in 2022 and was promoted to Content Editor in 2023, where he oversees the editorial tasks and ensures the quality and accuracy of the content.
Shoaib loves to play all kinds of games, from Competitive shooters to the latest AAA releases, you name it, and he got them all covered; a PC Enthusiast who loves to stay upgraded with the latest hardware, and he enjoys sharing his insights and opinions with the Gaming Community.
While being a hardcore competitive Gamer he also a big Anime fan so his IGN goes by #SHiNiGaMii. and you can join him on Steam and checkout his library to learn more about his accomplishments.