Interview: Developers Of Yasha: Legends Of The Demon Blade Merged Top Down Into Roguelite

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Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade - via 7QUARK

Yasha: Legends of the Demon Blade is an upcoming Action Roguelike that sets the stage in Edo-period combat and action. The world is brimming with Japanese culture and highly engaging combat mechanics. These mechanics combined with Roguelite promise to create a chaotic experience demanding strategic gameplay. 

Not only that, but the game will also feature in-depth exploration throughout the campaign, allowing players to upgrade weapons for progression. To learn more about these mechanics, we interviewed the development team behind the game, 7QUARK, and the publisher, Game Source Entertainment, over an email. 

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Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade – via 7QUARK

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role in Yasha: Legends of the Demon Blade.

7QUARK: Hello everyone, we’re 7QUARK, an indie game team based in Taiwan. While we initially concentrated on mobile games, a few years ago, we transitioned our focus to PC and console games, leading to the creation of our flagship project, Yasha: Legends of the Demon Blade.

Venturing into action game development for the first time was certainly a distinctive and challenging journey.

The game features a variety of playable characters, each with their own combat techniques and storylines. Could you elaborate on the process of creating these characters and their narratives?

7QUARK: From the beginning, we envisioned incorporating multiple characters to offer players diverse experiences within a single game. So, we crafted three characters with distinct battle systems, appearances, and personalities.

Through the unique perspectives and identities of each character, our aim is to create a vibrant and immersive world in Yasha.

Immortal Ninja: Shigure

From a village guarding demon blades for generations, Shigure embarks on a quest to reclaim these scattered blades following the demon king Nine-Tailed Fox’s destruction. Along her journey, she discovers her immortality, unraveling the mysteries of her existence as she delves deeper into the demon-infested realms.

Oni Emissary: Sara

Sara’s narrative offers a captivating blend of fantasy and workplace comedy, chronicling her adventures as a prison guard navigating between the inferno and the mortal realm. Unlike traditional human and monster characters, Sara belongs to the Oni, a distinct force altogether. With her combat style focusing on speed and agility, Sara wields dual blades with finesse.

Monstrous Samurai: Taketora

Taketora’s story is woven amidst a war among mortal realm demons, intertwining with his lord’s family fate. Entrusted with rescuing a human princess, he undertakes a perilous journey, embodying the shift from monster to hero. His chapters will explore why he chose to go to war to save mankind from the point of view of monsters.

Armed with versatile combat skills, Taketora provides players with a dynamic combat experience, blending both long-range and melee tactics to suit their preferences.

Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade - via 7QUARK
Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade – via 7QUARK

The initial looks at the settings and storyline of Yasha: Legends of the Demon Blade are amazing. How did the Edo period and Japanese mythology influence the game's design? Can you shed some light on the inspiration behind it?

7QUARK: “Japanese-style” games rarely incorporate “top-down perspective” and “rogue-lite” elements. We saw an opportunity to merge these aspects as the core of our game during the conceptualization phase.

Our team occasionally traveled to Japan for inspiration, drawing from shrines and their mythological significance. You will notice our major game maps feature “torii” as important symbols.

In terms of art style, we drew significant inspiration from Japan’s distinctive “ukiyo-e” prints, which led us to set Yasha in the Edo period and incorporate elements of fantasy. As a side note, players will encounter a boss named “Kraken Umibozu,” whose attacks are inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” You’ll get to experience what it feels like to be pounded by ukiyo-e art!

The Demon Blades seem to be a very important part of combat. Can you walk us through the process of designing and implementing these weapons, as well as how players can combine their powers for strategic advantage?

7QUARK: The design of these magical weapons was initially conceived around the concept of “seasons”, aligning with the cyclical nature emphasized in rogue-lite games. Each year represented by the seasons reflects both similarities and differences.

Building upon this, we integrated another Japanese element tied to the seasons: “Hanafuda” cards. This influenced not only our UI artwork but also the functionality of the weapons. Like the strategy required in Hanafuda, where players create specific combinations to score points, we aimed to create magical weapons that complement each other rather than relying on a single overpowering weapon.

For instance, some weapons excel at manipulating combat environments, like slowing down enemies, but lack significant damage output, while others deliver strong damage but have drawbacks. By combining these complementary weapons, players can strategically enhance their gameplay experience.

Ultimately, our goal is to provide players with the excitement of discovering how a new weapon will interact with their existing arsenal each time they unlock it.

Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade - via 7QUARK
Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade – via 7QUARK

In Yasha, players uncover hidden truths and piece together the mystery behind the chaos in the realm. How does the game balance storytelling with gameplay, and what techniques were used to ensure players remain engaged with the narrative?

7QUARK: The game’s narrative unfolds as players advance through the levels. By successfully defeating enemies, players will trigger main storyline dialogues, allowing them to solve puzzles and uncover the relationships between characters. In addition to the main storyline, the three main characters engage in internal dialogues during their adventures, offering insights into their personalities.

From rogue-lite implementation to allowing the distinct strategy for each level, how did you balance each aspect so it felt challenging but still ensured progression?

7QUARK: Combining level variability and character freedom, we view each level as a distinct puzzle, independent of the others. The player’s choice of enhancements and weapons will benefit some puzzles more than others, offering gameplay variability.

This structure is enriched by both rogue-lite’s randomized enhancements and, importantly, the player’s weapon selection. Overall, the puzzles aren’t intended to defeat players outright but rather to gradually escalate the challenge until they reach a critical point.

Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade - via 7QUARK
Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade – via 7QUARK

How did Game Source Entertainment contribute to the development of Yasha: Legends of the Demon Blade, and what role did they play in facilitating the project's realization?

Game Source Entertainment: Hi, this is Game Source Entertainment. We’ve always been big fans of 7QUARK’s indie mobile game vibe and their game concepts. So, when we heard they were venturing into the world of console gaming for the first time, we jumped right in, offering them our market knowledge and advice from the get-go, helping them navigate through different stages of game development and break into the immense console market.

We’re out there hitting up game shows and events, and we’ve got a pretty solid product sales channel. As a publisher, we’re pumped to team up with 7QUARK to get folks around the world playing this awesome Japanese-style rogue-lite APRG game.

Given Game Source Entertainment's commitment to promoting the local game industry, how does the company plan to integrate Yasha: Legends of the Demon Blade into these initiatives, and what opportunities do they see for the game within the broader gaming community?

Game Source Entertainment: Sometimes, reality throws a wrench in our infinite creative plans, but we’re all about turning those dreams into reality with the power of teamwork. In the past, we’ve been localizing games and bringing foreign masterpieces to players, making them bridge that language barrier to enjoy these titles. But with Yasha, we’re flipping the script.

We’re bringing some serious Asian flair to the table, with game styles and characters that’ll give you a cultural jolt. It’s all about bringing gamers from all over the world together, breaking down cultural barriers one game at a time. Passing back to 7QUARK for the rest of the interview!

Combo Attacks
Yasha Legends of the Demon Blade – via 7QUARK

What was the major challenge involved in the development?

7QUARK: We’ve faced the typical challenges in game development, from finances and staffing to scheduling and external partnerships. The main challenge has been managing communication as our team has grown, making it difficult to maintain creativity, and innovation, and meet deadlines. Thankfully, our strong teamwork has helped us overcome these challenges.

How large is the development team behind Yasha: Legends of the Demon Blade, and how long has it been under development?

7QUARK: The development team behind Yasha started in 2022 with 8 people. It has since grown to approximately 25 members as the production content expanded and the quality expectations increased.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

7QUARK: We’ve just wrapped up the Japanese voice acting for the three main characters of Yasha. Alongside Yoko Hikasa, who voices the ninja girl Shigure, we’ll soon be announcing the voices of the other two characters.

There’s been a lot of excitement and anticipation worldwide since the release of Yasha, and we’re putting our all into making this game an enjoyable experience for everyone. Let’s add it to your Steam wishlist and support us!

Yasha: Legends of the Demon Blade is an upcoming Rogue-lite JRPG, under development by 7QUARK. The game is planned for release on PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in 2024. 

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