It’s always refreshing to see a developer trying to do something different within established genres. And that’s exactly what Napoleon Games is doing with 7 Mages. It’s a deep, tactical, turn-based RPG that adds some intriguing ideas onto a solid, old-school foundation. There’s musical magic, environments that change the way you play, and a compelling story that pushes you through more than 30 hours of gameplay. We sat down with the dev to talk about the inspiration behind the games, and get some tips for players about to step out in Roven for the first time.
Which games most inspired 7 Mages?
Probably old gems like Eye of the Beholder (the whole series), Wizardry 7 and Lands of Lore (the first one). We are also not ashamed to acknowledge our sincere admiration for Legend of Grimrock, which has done so much for reviving the genre.
But 7 Mages develops the dungeon crawler genre much further. First of all, it offers a unique system of turn-based combat in which you can split your party. There’s quite a rich variety of spells that can be combined together to discover unusual battle tactics (which we as the developers may not even be aware of).
Most importantly, however, 7 Mages brings a brand new system of musical magic that lets characters wield musical instruments in their hands. Instead of waving around traditional cold weapons or magic staves, you can play magic songs that influence everyone within earshot.
For example, one party member can play the Berserk song on the drum, which boosts the attacks of everyone within earshot. If another character joins in to play another part in Berserk, say on the horn, then not only is the soundtrack heard by the player richer, but the attack boost is also doubled (and tripled if you add another musician).
7 Mages is also a highly varied game. We created new environments and unique monsters for each level, as well as new mechanics for the magical puzzles.
And the environment itself is often part of the game – for example, to enter the still smouldering remains of a dead dragon, you first need to make ice suits from the bodies of defeated ice giantsl.
Most importantly, unlike the old classics and one mobile port that I have mentioned, 7 Mages is a dungeon crawler that has been designed from the ground up for the touchscreen displays of mobile devices.
What tips would you give to new players?
Don’t rush. In 7 Mages, using your brain is more important than having quick fingers.
Once you have enough characters in your party (about four), make sure to use musical magic as much as you can. It’s very powerful and can make everything easier.
Don’t underestimate charisma, either. It’s just as important as strength, magic, or speed.
Once you get the True Seeing spell, you can use it when you’re stuck on a puzzle to get a hint.
7 Mages is more open than classic linear games. If you enter an area where all the monsters seem to be too strong, maybe you shouldn’t go there yet.
Which enemy is your favourite and why?
As the designer, I had the right to throw out all the enemies that I didn’t like. It’s difficult to pick just one. If I had to, I’d choose the fireworm, which gnaws through the remains of the dead dragon.
You’re in an environment that’s on fire and, if you’re lucky, you spot an inconspicuous bulge that’s slowly moving towards you. If you’re unlucky, then suddenly a huge worm covered in glowing veins burrows out in front of you.
Because it surprises you, it attacks first and can hit all characters on one square. That’s when you find out that even though the magic song Acceleration may seem to be the most powerful in the game, there are situations in which you need to pick something else, like Magical Defence.
Can we expect to travel to new areas in future updates and, if so, can we have a clue what these might be?
Although we have many plans, we want to wait for the response from players to decide which of them to pursue first. But it would be nice if players could create their own adventures to share with others.
If you were to start development over again, what would you change and why?
I don’t think I’d change anything. In the more than twenty years I’ve been making videogames, this was the smoothest development process I’ve ever experienced.
But of course we’re no newcomers. Eighteen years ago, we developed a dungeon crawler that became extremely popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (and is played here to this day).
Unfortunately, this was just at the time of the great boom of 3D graphics, which our game didn’t have, so we couldn’t find a worldwide publisher. The situation has changed – today 3D is seen as just one of the available options, as it should be, and there are also the benefits of digital distribution.
But our experience is our strength and I hope you can see that in 7 Mages. Back then, we were trying something new, and we have kept improving on that ever since. In a sense, the work on the game that you can play today started twenty years ago.
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