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Forest of Liars is an exploration game that features deck-building combat and characters with ulterior motives. It’s the debut from Umeshu Lovers, which will be launching a Kickstarter campaign for it next week. The studio plans to make it for the PC, with possible console launches to come.

As a traveler, your goal is to get to the center of the mysterious woods. You explore during the day, and at night, you must fight off bandits and other threats. Combat takes its cue from digital card games but so does the scenery.

“Our storyline builds itself by assembling areas, events, and characters chosen from a huge deck designed by our team,” said Umeshu Lovers founder and art director Sylvain Sarrailh in an email. “We are focused on the wonder of each part of the forest, from the staging to the lighting and little details like birds flying away, dust cloud, fog…. We want to make a contemplative game!”

The French indie studio draws inspiration from the movies of Studio Ghibli as well as Hudson River School, an American art movement from the 1800s that focused on showing off the resplendence of nature. For gameplay, it looks to Nerial’s Reigns, which Sarrailh praises for its “complexity through a simple and balanced gameplay.”

It sounds like Forest of Liars will be equally about exploration and strategy. You’ll meet other people, and some of these will become your companions. But you should be careful who you trust. Each character comes with a set of randomized traits, which you’ll discover by talking to them. Some of these are negative and will send your quest off course — like the “liar” trait for instance.

“[The liar trait] is one of the most difficult to unmask,” said Sarrailh. “But when you find the truth, a liar is easy to counteract. When he says something, you just have to act in the opposite way. However, each trait reacts differently.”

You’ll only be able to make it to the center of the forest by reading other characters’ personalities and strategically using their traits to guide you.

“We put emphasis on relationship,” said Sarrailh. “In your everyday life, when you meet someone for the first time, you have to understand him. This is the experience that we want to share with players.”

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