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‘Operencia’ Developers Gamify Their Own Eastern European Mythology

They say the best stories come from truth, things you personally relate to. For Zen Studios, the minds behind first-person role-playing game ‘Operencia: The Stolen Sun’, that meant taking their own country’s mythology and transforming into a fantasy world.

“It’s all based around Central European mythology, Zen Studios is based in Hungary. So a lot of our developers grew up with this it and the West doesn’t know as well. It was part of their folklore,” Chris Baker, Zen Studios director of creative communications, tells Variety. “It’s provided a cool basis for the lore and all these places we’re visiting as we play.”

The word Operencia itself means far, far away in Hungarian.

‘Operencia: The Stolen Sun’, which is coming to Xbox One and PC later in 2019, is an ode to classic first-person dungeon crawling RPGs like Wizardry. It’s got tile-based movement, turn-based combat, exploration, and party customization all tied together with a drearily colorful stylized visual look.

My short time with a demo at the ID@Xbox event at GDC in San Francisco was enjoyable, although these types of adventure games take far more time to dive into. The turn-based combat was engaging with a ton of options across magic, ranged and melee attacks, and special abilities. Those options, alongside a deep party system, could make it easy to sink hours into getting the perfect team composition and combat strategy set up.

The tile-based movement, however, doesn’t mesh well with me. I kept wanting to explore certain cracks in a wall or a certain shelf on a bookcase. That’s not to say any of the movement design is bad, it’s more that the modern visuals that ‘Operencia: The Stolen Sun’ takes on doesn’t always gel with the grid movement popularized all those years ago. This isn’t the first game to mesh those systems together, so it very well could work for other players.

“We want to make the whole first person role-playing game experience friendly to people who’ve never played them before, since you don’t really get them much anymore,” Baker said. “We really want to fill that void and make a game that we wanted to play.”

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