Tails of Iron

Tails of Iron is an upcoming RPG that features rich storybook visuals, a tale about a kingdom war between rodents and frogs, and a surprising amount of violence. The promising title looks to offer combat that’s been described by developer Odd Bug Studio as Souls-like, which should be interesting given the characters, subject matter, and fairytale aesthetic.

We asked Odd Bug Producer and Designer Jack Bennett a few questions about Tails of Iron. Jack delved into quite a few topics including the project’s development, the decision to go with an M-rated game that looks like a fairy tale, Witcher fan theories related to Tails of Iron, and more.

Tails of Iron

There’s a fantasy feel to Tails of Iron. I get Mouse Guard and Redwall vibes myself, and Half-Glass Gaming’s own Josh Wirtanen also mentioned Secret of Nimh when we discussed it. How much of an influence were those works? Were there other inspirations behind the visual and thematic direction of the game?

I’m glad you’re getting those vibes! Yeah, they’ve definitely had an influence on the team from childhood. Same with Mouse Guard, the artwork is amazing and it really sells the world they’ve created. I think other references that are really overlooked are things like Wind in the Willows and Watership Down.

Ultimately, from all these references, the thing we understood is that people seem to like the concept of having a world filled with anthropomorphised creatures and exploring the conflicts that arise between the different factions. With Tails of Iron, we took that concept and put our own spin on it, adding that dark, gritty atmosphere that we like to develop in our games.

On one hand, Tails of Iron has this fantasy storybook look to it, but on the other hand, it looks a little gritty and mature. Not to mention, it has an M rating. Was it always the plan to go with a darker tone? How do you strike a balance between that animated film/book look and the more adult action and themes?

We’d always planned for Tails of Iron to have a much darker tone. We knew we wanted the combat to feel brutal and weighted, which naturally led us to a more gory depiction of combat. At the end of the day, it’s rats fighting frogs with medieval weapons — we’re depicting a particularly brutal period of combat technology.

In terms of balancing our visual art style with that mature world, I think that’s something we aim for in all our games. We like to think of them as almost like Grimm’s fairy tales. They have this cute storybook exterior, but when you actually start to dig deeper into the world and the story, you find this much darker side to them. I think that works really well for us, I think it gives our games a unique charm that allows you to easily spot an Odd Bug game.

The combat in Tails of Iron has been described as Souls-like and challenging. Just how difficult are we talking here? Is Tails of Iron a brutally difficult game? Does it allow for a little wiggle room for players who are into the look but might be a little nervous about playing something highly challenging?

I wouldn’t say Tails of Iron is any more difficult than most Souls-like games, but I would say it is more visually brutal than most. I’d say the main thing is that it’s skill-based. If you’re patient and take the time to learn the enemies’ patterns, then you’re going to make the experience a whole lot easier on yourself.

For nervous players, I would say that we do a lot to make attacks clear. Every enemy has attack indicators in different colours according to their attack (similar to God of War), which makes it much easier to understand when you’re in danger and what your response should be.

Redgi’s loadout is fully customisable, so if you’re struggling, it might be worth changing up your weapons and armor. Weapons give you different speed attacks which you might prefer, whilst armor has different weights and different enemy resistances. So it’s worth taking the time to find a loadout that suits your play style and the enemy that you are encountering.

Finally, we also have a tutorial that is accessible and replayable at any time, so if you are struggling, you can always return to the tutorial to practice without the pressure of dying.

Tails of Iron

Doug Cockle — Geralt, to Witcher fans — is the narrator for Tails of Iron. What was it like working with Doug? What did he bring to the game and its story that only he could deliver?

We absolutely loved working with Doug! We’re all massive Witcher fans in the studio, so having the voice of Geralt narrate Tails of Iron was like a dream come true. But yeah, Doug was amazing to work with, he properly got into the role and loved telling Redgi’s adventures, which I think really comes across in the game.

Overall, though, I think having Doug narrate the game just enhances the whole experience. As soon as you hear his voice, you know you’re going to be headed off on a dark adventure, which I think really helps players get immersed in the world we’ve created.

With that, some fans have said that it seems as if Tails of Ironis a fable or bedtime story as told by Geralt to Ciri. Have you heard anything about that? Does that theory hold any validity? Or is that just wishful thinking on the part of Witcher fans?

Yes, I have seen this theory in a few places! However, unfortunately, it’s not Witcher lore, even if many feel it could fit well. I can see Geralt telling a young Ciri the tale of King Redgi the rat as they ride around Kaer Morhen. I’m sure Geralt would also keep in all the gory details!

Tails of Iron definitely looks like a very ambitious project. How long has this game been in the works, and what has it been like to work on something like this that has such an old school fantasy fable vibe? Have you faced any challenges along the way while developing the game?

Tails of Iron is the biggest game we’ve worked on whilst also having the longest development. Overall, we’ve been working on it for three-and-a-half years, so it is a very ambitious project for us!

The old school fantasy was in the design from the very start. Most of the team grew up playing Elder Scrolls, Fable, and the Witcher, so we obviously love the design of these big epic adventures. However, we wanted to add to it and not just replicate, so there’s a few other concepts thrown into the mix. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say that when you head underground, you’re in for a surprise!

Creating this big epic adventure was also actually one of the main challenges. We wanted to capture all of those emotions that you get from playing through a sixty-hour triple-A epic and reduce it down to its core components so that our small team of six could produce our version of that.

The way we solved that was by keeping the story simple and focused on Redgi. This allowed us to create a big epic adventure without having to get bogged down in the extra exposition. This detail is still there, but we tell the story of the world through environmental storytelling. This means that those players that really take their time with the game are going to get a lot more from it!

Tails of Iron

What does Tails of Iron mean to the development team? Games are important to the folks who play them, but they’re also important to those who create them. What has it meant to the team to be able to work on this project and bring it to life?

Firstly, all of the main characters are based on Dan, the character artist’s pet rats. Unfortunately, they have all passed away now so it’s had an emotional connection to us for a while.

I think the other thing that’s driven us whilst developing Tails of Iron is that our story as a studio is reflected in the game. When we first started Tails of Iron without a publisher, the studio was not far from closure, so we had this massive adversity of finding funding. As we battled through, we were able to build a demo and get funding which allowed us to reunite our team. Now we’re at the other end of development with a game we’re super proud of being released.

We now have that same feeling as Redgi when he looks out over the kingdom he saved and rebuilt.

We extend a big thank you to Jack of Odd Bug Studio for taking the time to answer our questions about Tails of Iron. We look forward to the violent, bloody battle between the game’s rodent and amphibian armies. Tails of Iron is due out “soon” on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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