On the surface, Moonbreaker – the new game from Unknown Worlds – looks like the perfect game if you’re into turn-based tabletop games. It has engaging characters, deep tactics, and a painting feature that’s set to keep you busy for hours. It also has, unsurprisingly, a big old rolodex of lore – but that lore is not going to be distributed in the normal way for videogames of its kind.
And that’s because Unknown Worlds couldn’t get a single-player campaign to work in Moonbreaker, even though the studio had been working with renowned author Brandon Sanderson on the story.
“We knew early on that to really bring the tabletop hobby to life, we couldn’t just do a game,” game designer Charlie Cleveland tells The Loadout at Gamescom. “We wanted to tell stories through an end game single-player mode, which we could never get to work well enough,” Cleveland admits. “It was like playing one battle, listening to a little bit of story, playing another battle, and listening to another story.
“It was very fragmented and we felt like we were getting not a great single-player experience and not a great story. So we ended up focusing completely on a great story with zero interaction.”
But how is the Moonbreaker story going to play out if there’s no gameplay involved? Well, through carefully crafted audiobooks that you can listen to while you paint, of course.
“We have a linear story that we’ve planned out for literally years,” Cleveland says. “Each one of our characters has their own story and they all weave together and we’re going to tell the backstory and the forward story with them. But we’re telling these through seasonal narratives – basically every month we drop another 30 minute audio drama and you can listen to it while you’re painting.”
Cleveland also tells us that the dramas will be on podcasting apps, meaning you’ll be able to listen to the stories even if you don’t own the game. It’s an enticing play for a niche audience, especially since Unknown Worlds and Sanderson are plotting a “Game of Thrones style” story that Cleveland promises has some big reveals.
It’s unclear how many audiobooks the game will launch with once the Moonbreaker release date rolls around, but given how much effort Unknown Worlds has invested in this world, we wouldn’t be surprised if there’ll be hours of fun for all involved.