A new project co-written by the lead writer of the award-winning 80 Days, Meg Jayanth, was recently featured as one of the top 20 projects on Steam Greenlight, and was voted in by the community in just over a week.
Shuyan Saga looks a bit like a blend of everything we loved from Avatar: The Last Airbender, a Telltale-like game of choice and consequence, and a 90’s kung-fu film.
The developers are calling it an “action-graphic novel,” but it features a choice mechanic and a full 3-D combat system that tries to capture the unique “soft” style of traditional kung-fu.
Jason Loftus, CEO of Mark Media, the indie developer behind Shuyan Saga, explained this combat system in a press release, saying “In martial arts there’s the mastery of the superficial skills, like the techniques, but there’s also a very deep layer of character development that must happen along with the discipline.”
“We really tried to capture that entire experience, make the martial arts authentic, while allowing the players to dive into the profound depth of a true kung fu teaching,” he said.
Meg Jayanth isn’t the only big name behind the project. Its art director is Daxiong, who helped popularize comics in China, and who is aptly dubbed the “King of Chinese Comics.” He described the art direction of Shuyan Saga in a press release, saying “The world we designed borrowed ideas from the Han, Tang, Song, and Qing dynasties. Shuyan’s journey is that of discovering this world and one of its core tenants: Harmony between human and nature.”
Going by some of the screenshots and comic panels, Shuyan Saga shows Daxiong’s very unique art style that has the familiarity of modern comics, but that uses some of the artistic methods of traditional Chinese painting.
It also features writers from games including Mass Effect and Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Just as interesting, it seems Shuyan Saga‘s Greenlight campaign received a huge amount of attention from Chinese gamers. It apparently went viral on Chinese social media sites, and comments on the Greenlight page show Chinese gamers glad to see a game that seems to capture authentic Chinese culture.
Some of its Chinese fans have mused over the fact that a team of developers based in Toronto managed to create a successful Chinese-style game, while many Chinese developers are trying to make Western-style games. While noting that Shuyan Saga seems to get the art style, and even the traditional Chinese dress right, they also mentioned that most games (and films, apparently), are rarely accurate when trying to depict China, since they tend to blend Chinese and Japanese elements.
In a game market where most influence comes from Nordic or Medieval cultures, it will be interesting to see a game pull from China’s 5,000 years of history, and its own deep system of lore.
Shuyan Saga is set for release on PC with other platforms to be announced. It will be a three-part series, told in the form of an interactive graphic novel. The release date is TBA.