Torla is a charming role-playing adventure for PC that’s raising funds on the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter. Its art style is reminiscent of old Flash games with expressive stick figures and vibrant colors, and it drew the attention of acclaimed indie publisher Devolver Digital, which backed the project early on. The campaign has about two weeks left and ends August 7.
Torla combines point-and-click gameplay with survival in an open world. Along with solving puzzles and exploring over 150 biomes, players will craft, farm, and fish while surviving the elements. Its hand-drawn aesthetic resembles cave drawings at times, sketching out animals and landmarks with bold representative shapes. Though the Kickstarter page hasn’t revealed much of the story, it promises a surreal world with quirky, offbeat characters.
“Most adventure RPGs are strictly linear and narrative/exploration based, but none have really thought to use survivability as a mechanic for driving narrative in a game,” said Amir Uqdah, Torla’s programmer, in an email to GamesBeat. “We’re attempting to blend the two while still staying true to the essence of traditional point-and-click adventure RPGs. Ultimately, we want Torla to feel like an epic inhabitable world that allows the player to explore and respond to his/her actions as they piece together the stories for themselves.”
Uqdah and Holden Boyles are the two-person team behind Torla. Uqdah is an 18-year-old self-taught programmer who handles the code; Boyles came up with the idea for Torla and tackles all the creative aspects, such as illustrating, writing, and animating. He’s also a designer and filmmaker who Kickstarted his first game, Qora, in 2014. Both games take place in the same universe, which is a world that Boyles has explored in other mediums such as live-action film.
“My hope is that this giant interconnected universe will be gradually revealed one film, or game, or album at a time, and Torla, will introduce a lot of that story,” said Boyles. “It’s a world that is seemingly disconnected, full of contrast and seemingly mis-aligned characters with differing and sometimes conflicting interests, yet at the same time very much connected. My goal is for the Torla universe to feel totally unique to players and beautiful in a way they may not have experienced before.”
Devolver, which backed the project on day one, thinks that it shows promise.
“The art and animation are quite lovely, and it looks to be a streamlined approach to an RPG, which is pretty popular as of late. But this one struck us as a bit different,” said Nigel Lowrie, one of Devolver’s cofounders, in an email to GamesBeat. “The pitch video was awesome, too, very personal and informative at once.”
This isn’t the first game that Devolver has backed on Kickstarter. Though some of the projects it’s supported have led to partnerships, like the psychedelic point-and-click Dropsy (the one about the clown that likes hugging people), it’s not an official part of their pipeline. Rather, Lowrie says, Devolver just wants to contribute to games that look interesting.
“Devolver backs several neat looking Kickstarters every year, usually just something that strikes us as a neat concept from good people trying to make it happen,” said Lowrie. “Our team certainly checks out all sorts of Kickstarters for new possible partners but we mostly approach it as fans looking for cool new ideas.”
When asked what suggestions he might have for developers hoping to raise funds, Lowrie warns against over-promising.
“We’re not experts on marketing Kickstarters, but treating it like a game release is probably smart — making a strong and loud first impression, building ambassadors from your backer community, and pacing out marketing/communication beats to keep the game on everyone’s radar are all pretty important,” said Lowrie. “Oh, and don’t promise the world just to squeak out a few more bucks from backers — saying you will do three consoles for $10,000 isn’t realistic and know that it will almost certainly move your proposed release date back months. This has to be a pretty common mistake we see in crowdfunding campaigns.”