After an improbable, impressive last-minute rally in its Kickstarter campaign, Days of Dawn has at last been successfully funded–which, in turn, means that this game is now actually happening. In development by Bumblebee Games, Days of Dawn is reportedly influenced by Final Fantasy and The Secret of Mana; its combat system seems pretty firmly set in the former camp, while open world exploration and nonlinear storylines seem to draw influence from the latter.
Bumblebee sums up the premise of Days of Dawn as follows:
Your up to four companions encounter the most vivid and original creatures in a blazingly fast sequential round-based combat system while researching the mystery of marvelous powers recently felt and seen in the lands of Kalea. Learn to use these forces by channeling your feelings – use emotions instead of spells to evoke powerful magic with a surprise. Choose your path and your companions to enter a vast network of nonlinear storylines in a world whose magic just came alive.
So, what does the phrase “a world whose magic just came alive” mean? What is the difference between emotions and spells in their magic system? I hadn’t the faintest clue about this stuff, so I wrote to Bumblebee developer Tassilo Rau asking for clarification. He responded with a very detailed (and in my view, pretty compelling) explanation of how magic works in the game:
A world whose magic just came alive means, there has been none before. All of a sudden, some few people realise they’ve got strange powers. Magic is experienced as an alien force of unknown nature, evoked by emotional outbursts. Without scientific research of these mysterious forces, there’s no spells to chose from or tomes to study.
Those gifted with these powers can unleash them in times of danger or need, yet unable to control the exact nature of the effects they evoke; instead, the character’s nature and the current situation influence the effect called. Only as they advance on their quest, will they start to learn to handle these forces and gain the ability to choose an emotion to channel into magic and, later on, a specific effect to cause.
With two additional traits – emotional control and emotional strength – and seven feelings of differing intensity, not only do your characters’ personalities influence the outcome of magic usage, but also the experiences and encounters they make during their journey.
In terms of gameplay mechanics, this is woven all throughout the game. Dialogue with PCs or NPCs can influence your emotions, but your surroundings do so as well. Creepy scenery makes you frightened, bright, sunny woods recover your courage. Getting hit increases rage and, as things get worse, fear. Finding someone you really like may increase your “love”. While you’re inexperienced in using magic, the result will be depending on your strongest emotions. As you progress, you learn to control your emotions and select specific spells. You can try to influence emotions by gameplay. Talking to the girl your hero loves will help him recover. Relaxing in the woods can also help. Some in-game events will have a deep impact on your emotions, so take care.
This actually reminds me a bit of how certain emotional states could affect the stats of your characters in The Spirit Engine 2, but it seems like they’re going for a more complex and robust implementation of that idea. I especially like the idea of using dialog to manipulate your characters’ emotional state, and I’m legitimately looking forward to seeing how Bumblebee implements this stuff.
On a more superficial level, the game has a really nice “painted” art style going for it. Just check out these screenshots:
You can currently pre-order Days of Dawn through Paypal for $20. Interestingly, although their Kickstarter campaign is done, they’re still counting pre-orders toward their stretch goals. (Note: the developers are German, and use a comma rather than a decimal point. Despite how it first appeared to me, they have not already raised $721,000.00 through Paypal.)
Days of Dawn is planned for release sometime in 2013 for Windows, Mac and Linux; the developers contemplate possible future ports to Android, iOS, WiiU, XBox 260, PS3 and Pandora as well.