Torn Away is one of the games that has been on our watch list for a while. In fact, we were getting ready to host him in our “Indies We’ve Been Waiting For” column when we had the opportunity to have an interview with the developer team Perelesoq. While we had such a good opportunity, we got together with Eser and wanted to ask whatever came to our minds. When the producer team answered our questions sincerely, such an interview emerged. Let’s see if the answers we get will add Torn Away to your watch list:
You state that your game is inspired by children’s war diaries. Is there a particular character inspired by Asya, our heroine in the game? Could you give some information about Asia?
No, Asya is more like a summary of all war boys than a specific character. We didn’t purposely base it on a real person as it limits the story. Asya – a kind and happy girl living in a time of uncertainty. His father went to the front; his mother works from sunrise to dawn to feed the family. This encourages our hero to keep a diary, as many children did at the time. In this diary, she reveals all her thoughts and tells all the events that happened to her.
The name Asya is one of the most frequently used female names in our country. Was this name chosen specifically to represent a particular typology? Or did you consider it appropriate to use this name because you think it has a wider geography?
There is no implicit reason why we chose the name Asia. We were looking for a name that was simple and not very common in popular culture. I’m also a fan of short names like Yana, Zoe, Taya (names with only three letters in Russian), which may have had some influence on our choice.
There were some games (like This War of Mine) that dealt with the plight of civilians, especially children, in wars. You also made such a choice. What was your main motivation for making this choice?
We think that this aspect of the war is not adequately reflected. Although many games have become more complex lately, these are still productions with clear distinctions between “us” and “them”, in black and white. We have a different perspective on this. We try to show how terrible and meaningless war can be, especially for people who can’t or don’t want to fight. That’s why our main heroine is a very vulnerable, fragile and harmless character.
When it comes to a war game, being a soldier and engaging in combat is a much more popular choice for game lovers; We can count many high-budget productions of this type. Do you think you are taking a risk by going in the opposite direction? Or do you see the spiritual satisfaction that it brings as a gain you already have?
Yes, we are aware that making a dramatic game without violent mechanics is definitely a risk as it narrows the pool of potential players. But I can say that the emergence of our team and its reason for being is to tell stories of this kind.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t think about commercial success. But if you only think about the size of the audience, at the end of the day, you might find yourself making free-to-play mobile games. Of course, it’s impossible to do all this without passion, so we’re trying to find our niche while looking for other options to excite players.
Can you tell us a little bit about the gameplay? Is your game going to be more of a visual novel style? Will we need to collect materials from left to right and use them somewhere, as in old-style adventure games? What about the secrecy and survival parts? What kind of gameplay awaits us?
When we started developing the game, we didn’t have a specific genre in mind. After a few months of experimentation, we found an intriguing combination of different game mechanics. It’s a side-scroller style game that turns into a classic style adventure game from time to time, where you explore the surroundings and find hidden objects and solve mini puzzles, and sometimes you have to hide from the soldiers. We’ve also added first-person cinematics so you can put yourself in Asia’s shoes.
We see that there are competent people in the visual design and music of the game. How did the team’s past experiences reflect on this game?
We see visual style as one of the main interests of our target audience in social networks. We have put a lot of effort into developing our unique visual language. This wouldn’t have been possible without our outstanding art director. As for sound and music, their importance to the emotional tone of the story is undeniable. We can say that our sound director did his job in the best way possible. However, I can say that there are some difficulties as well as the advantages of having such experienced team members for this project. Perfectionism and the desire to do things better rather than faster can increase production time. Of course, we try to negotiate this issue between us and make concessions as much as we can; but our priority is to keep the quality at a certain level.
We know how important the victory over the Nazis was in the history of Russia. It was an important turning point not only for Russia, but for the whole world. As someone who participated in 9 May events in different places, I think I can understand the meaning of this special day. Is this victory still a driving force for you? Do you see your game as a tool to understand a little bit about that difficult period humanity went through?
Of course, May 9 is a very important day for Russia. We all celebrate Victory Day since childhood and it occupies an important place in our culture. But lately, all the narratives made to remind people of these amazing events have turned into more of an army spectacle. It doesn’t exactly reflect our feelings, so we decided to approach it from a different angle. We think it’s important to talk about things that most people don’t know. For example, about ostarbeiter* – workers transferred from Eastern Europe. Although it has a cultural background in general, we aim to make the story of Asia understandable for everyone. And by empathizing with our hero, players will be able to learn more about and better understand these difficult times in human history.
[*OST-arbeiter or Ostarbeiter (Eastern workers): Prisoners transferred by the Nazis from the occupied Eastern European territories (especially Ukraine) to Germany and employed there, in other words, slave workers. A significant part of these captives, who numbered in the millions, were women and children under the age of 16. ]
In fact, II. There are too many stories to be told (and I think need to be told) on the Eastern European / Eurasian front of World War II. But so far we have mostly heard Western and Central European stories. Do you plan to delve into this topic and tell more stories about this part of the war in the years to come?
It is difficult to say whether we will return to the subject of war, but one thing is for sure, we will continue to tell emotional stories using the language of the game.
What are the main features that will make Torn Away different from similar games? What do you think can draw players to Torn Away?
Although there are games that are similar to our game in some ways, there are a few nuances that set Torn Away apart from the rest. This is a play about war, but told from the front of a defenseless child. It has a dark theme, but in many places we use pastel colors and elegant shapes. Yes, we have a combination of different types of games, but it is precisely this contrast and nuance that we really rely on.
Since our game has not been completed yet, I refrain from using precise statements on some issues, but we do our best to reflect our vision to the game and convey it to the players in the best possible way.