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Voiceless

Voiceless is a classic JRPG with a stealth-based twist and silent protagonists—but this time, they’re silent for a reason.

Voiceless
VOTING RESULTS
Yes 87% No 13%

Genre: JRPG

Developer: Fourends

PC

PITCH

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Platforms: PC

Feel nostalgic for the old days? Want a JRPG the way they used to make them, with pixels and sprites and moving melodies? Want familiar yet fresh classes, combat, and customizable character progression? Want a rich, original story that plays with classic tropes before sinking deep into them?

Voiceless is that game, a classic JRPG—with a stealth-based twist.

Echoing the very first Final Fantasy, you’ll choose your party of four out of six potential classes (any combination will work!) and...then find that, like chess pieces, they don’t say much. Foxe, a fast-mouthed, self-proclaimed master thief, hires this band of silent protagonists for a mission to uncover the mystery behind the return of Prince Josiel. This immediately opens up into something much bigger, involving a conspiracy and demons and a conflict of cryptic religions. Meanwhile, a greater mystery looms, and the voiceless adventures may just be the key to understanding the true nature of the threat.


 

All the JRPG staples you're nostalgic for are there: choose your own party from the start, journey through a series of towns, talk up eccentric and informative villagers, fight your way through demon-filled dungeons, buy weapons and armor and spells, solve sneaking puzzles, level up your unique party members’ abilities in ways you choose, explore every inch of the over-world map, discover demon lore, conquer ultra-hard optional boss fights, and complete endgame side quests to uncover the individual stories of your silent party members. Maybe even get them to say a word or two.

But remember, your main character - Foxe - is a thief, so sneak by enemies you don't want to fight, find secret passages that take you into secret chambers to nab secret treasures, and pull off heists on unsuspecting yet highly deserving mansions. Explore the rich world and find out all there is to know!

Combat flows a lot like Lufia 2 mixed with Final Fantasy I. You take turns bashing each other and trading powerful skills, but watch out—as your life nears zero, your attacks deal more and more damage in desperation—as do the enemies’. Sacrifice turns to deal three-fold damage, buff your team and weaken your foes, or simply let poison kill them off, as no enemy is immune to status effects, not even bosses—but their resistances will grow with each application.

Make the heroes your own with our choose-your-level-up system. Pick one of two branches to develop. Perhaps delve a bit into a tanky meatshield to start one class, and after a few levels, flip sides to a more speedy DPS. Any combination is viable!

Ten years since the end of the Demon War. The world is rebuilding and trying to learn from its mistakes—and its sins. Shrines to the sun have been built in every town at the orders of Sharizaad, the controversial high priest of the realm. 

Some pray at these shrines, seeking solace and hope after the demons have ravaged the land. But others are bitter, and understandably reject the religion. Especially because Sharizaad himself was rumored to have had a hand in the mysterious emergence of the demons in the first place.

And now the church is receiving its hardest attack yet: a prophet has risen up known only as “The Voice” who challenges Sharizaad in the public square. Rumors abound of a conspiracy connected to a new demonic threat, though nothing is certain. 

In this time of renewed turmoil, Castle Rerebello has made a breathtaking announcement: Prince Josiel, who disappeared in the chaos of the Demon War, has returned. The people rejoice, for yet another wound from the old war is healed.

Foxe - the self-proclaimed master thief extraordinaire - hears of the return of the prodigal Prince Josiel, who has been missing all this time. Sensing something’s not quite right, he hatches a plan to infiltrate the castle and confront him. Why? Only he knows. His plan requires a crew of four, and only four.

Unfortunately, he has six to choose from.

A JRPG presented with nostalgia but featuring modern takeaways.
Each pixel from our 16-color pallet is lovingly hand placed for maximum NES nostalgia and value—but we have way more sprites and pretty pixels than the NES would ever allow.
JRPG staples: secrets, fire and ice dungeons, caves, airship—but none of the tedious fetch quest ad nauseum.
Silent warriors of light... but for a significant reason.
You play as a master thief!
Steal stuff. Lots of stuff, from lots of places, and lots of people.
Sneak past guards AND monsters to avoid fights, fines, or jail time—or backstab and pilfer your way to victory.
Take on thief quests to rise up the ranks and gain riches beyond your dreams—but choose money or morality; you cannot have both as a true master thief.
Combat is filled with meaningful choices.
Each of our six heroes are given stats and skills to exemplify their general/story based role—but you the player get to decide their true ‘class’ by choosing one of two paths every third level up.
“Desperation”-based battle system—as you and your foes near death, see your attack damage rise. Do you play it safe with full HP, or risk it all on one turn clears by flirting near death?
Each hero can stand on their own (including the Empath/healer!). Let the Lunar Knight stay in the single digits to power up his attacks ten fold with no fear of death behind the protection of the Solar Knight, or the Immortality of the Empath. And so on and so on...
Let Foxe the master thief steal for you. No more wasting the first half of combat trying to steal the ‘good’ items.
A large world filled with details and choices for you to explore.
7+ towns to explore, and exploit if you choose the ways of the guild.
Dungeons, side dungeons, and secrets to find.
Learn of the world’s past and the stories of your silent comrades.
Hidden treasure chests, pots and barrels, and more. Loot it all.
No forced random battles! Your skills as a sneaky thief will determine the combat encounters you will face, and who will have the advantage.
You like story? So do we. So much so, we wrote 8 optional short stories to go with the story in the game: When Once They Had Voices.

The lead man: Foxe
A self-proclaimed “master” thief with a tongue that never stops or slows down. Loves the pageantry and considers himself the noble, romantic kind of thief. 

Choose your crew of four from six unique heroes
The Sell Sword: Think DPS-Tank, but with some more utility in the form of stuns, weapon variety, and item proficiency.
The Solar Knight: The typical paladin of Final Fantasy, but with a non-typical build based around the eye-for-an-eye retribution aura.
The Lunar Knight: His attack power builds exponentially with every bit of damage he takes. Deals massive damage at low health levels.
The Alchemist: A speedy assassin and brewer of potions which can both cause and heal a variety of status effects.
The Empath: Healer who can eventually double as a damage-dealer or even a tank.
The Invoker: The magic-caster who unleashes devastating desperation spells that can also buff the party.

Sharizaad
High priest over the land and well-studied in magicks. Many blame him for the genesis of the demon war, but he appears to be without remorse. Does not seem to care what others think of him.

The Voice
A heretofore-unknown religious revolutionary whose words have a musical quality to them. Wears a hood because, as he says, it’s not about him. He is nothing. His voice is everything.

Barkeep at the Stolen Mug
Quoting Foxe: “The guy that serves me drinks. He may not be important to the story, but he’s damn sure important to me.”

Rob a mansion. Hire a thieving crew of your choice. Navigate verbal and literal dungeons. Rob some guards, and chance upon a conspiracy that could end the world. All in our demo and the first hour of the game.


The world of Voiceless is filled with plenty of dark caves, gloomy forest mazes, and other dungeon-like places JRPGs frequent—but it is the towns and people that make it feel alive. And who better to give you a small taste of what's to come than the world-traveler Foxe himself? 

Rerebello
“A nice quiet humble place they’ve been rebuilding since that chasm opened up in the earth ten years ago. The Stolen Mug is one of my favorite alehouses. There are rumors of a thieves guild somewhere in town, but I can’t confirm or deny that…”

Grustberg
“This place is a dump. Used to be rich, but the earth below lost all its sparkle and the mines dried up and the soil is dead. You can just feel the hopelessness of the people who live here.”

Halthea
“I love this place. Busy and full of waters and rivers and fountains. A place of fine wines and fine paintings—always wanted to pull off an art heist here—but even more famous for its weapons. The smiths use the fountain system to carve out intricate designs into raw zultaer, said to be, *ahem* ‘the only material capable of severing a demon’s connection to this plane.’”

Pyr
“Never been here, never intend to. Why? It’s built on the slopes of a rip-roaring volcano! Don’t know why anyone lives here, but I hear it’s a hot spot for traveling scholars to visit. Pun utterly intended.”

Glystra
“I’ve only been here once, and that was for the hot springs. Let me tell you, that hike was worth it. The heat in the water is so rejuvenating. Helps there’s a school of healers up the hill. I heard about a waterfall near here that drops off into the hotlands, disappears into steam before it reaches the ground.”

The goal is a Windows PC build for Steam (like all the cool kids), itch.io, and the Humble store. If you—the fans—really want it (vocal and kickstarter support) we have the knowledge and technology to port to Unity and from there Mac and Linux, and even PS4, XBoxOne, and Switch if you demand.

Most of the work on Voiceless has been done by a two-man team, each with families and real jobs taking up most of our time (and occasionally made-up jobs too). As our hobby project, we have poured and will continue pouring whatever is left of our souls (after work, life, and family, but not sleep) into this game and will finish... sometime. With your help, we can focus on Voiceless and see it complete within the year (or early 2019 should something crazy and distracting happen... Like the release of another BotW, Persona 6, or that shiny FF7 remake).

As a writer and a programmer with a hobby project, we have had to cut some things, and live with others being not as grand as we would like. With your support, we can hire on where we lack (more art from our pixel pusher Greg, more music, more... more!), justify our late nights to our families, and perhaps pull in a few of those tantalizing features we had to cut (can JRPGs ever have too many story based side quests that are not fetch quests?).

So, click that friendly looking “Yes” button on the SE Collective, browse what we have made thus far, and play the demo!



Final Fantasy. Dragon Quest. Chrono Trigger. All Square Enix and each a masterpiece series (two games makes Chrono a series, right?).

We consider Voiceless a spiritual descendant of those games, and a few others from the ‘90s. Just as professional sports teams often play their best when they’re in their home cities, surrounded by their kind of people, so do we feel about Square Enix, a place where RPGs and their developers can reasonably claim home turf. This is where we’ll find the kind of gamers that will not only enjoy playing our game, but appreciate its connections to its forebears and give us new ideas and other feedback on how we can do all of that better.

Furthermore, we need you because you’re here browsing the Square Enix Collective right now. With your interest in fledgling ideas, truthful feedback, and positive support, we can excise the needless fetch quests and other fat from Voiceless and make it the BEST JRPG presented in 16 colors released this decade!

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More Updates

UPDATES


Life has been busy for the two of us over here at Fourends. One of us is dealing with a recent second baby and the other has his hands full with a two-year-old (and a novel project that weighs heavily on his mind). But work on Voiceless continues on! 

Most recently we’ve built a “bobbing” system---check out the gif below. Any event can have its own X and Y offsets at any time, which means our demonic monsters now float menacingly, our lilly pads gently bob in the water, terrified NPCs cower in fright, and so on and so on. This graphical addition is the same kind of subtle detail we seek out in the primary parts of the game, the writing and mechanics.

With the SquareEnix Collective campaign drawing to an end, may we turn your attention to  the best sources of new information on Voiceless: the social media accounts---our Facebook, Twitter, and itch.io (demo) pages. But you can find the regular musings of our programmer about twice a month over at bkbgames.com, and the mailing list [http://eepurl.com/dmLE3T] will be important when we have vital updates on our quest to get Voiceless crowdfunded. Go! Follow one (or all) of them!

Combat - We want battles to feature the nail-biting difficulty of old school JRPGs, where each dungeon is a task of endurance and the player will be perpetually challenged---and immensely satisfied at the moment of victory. We also want to eschew the tediousness and RNG-ness (and, one could say, poor design) of some of those old games that usually created the tension. 

Our goal is three types of combat: 1) a new encounter--in which you play it safe to learn the enemy’s moveset; 2) known encounters (the majority)--in which you must balance your limited resources (HP, MP, items, etc.) to not only defeat foes, but stay well stocked for the rest of the dungeon; 3) and the JRPG staple--enemies that are so below your skill and level that you just mash Attack until defeated. Putting enemies on the map will let you choose your encounters more strategically--we don’t want crazy fights to constantly interrupt your exploration unless you want them to, and the rewards for victory will be all the sweeter. 

Our six voiceless party members start off in typical roles for the player to mix and match their own party of four--we have your typical tank, DPS, healer, and a few that are in-between. Over a few short levels of choosing particular progression paths and seeing the range that’s possible, they can be molded to fit roles of your choice, so you can play them how you want them. While some combinations are more viable from the start--we want your strategic choices and skill to be what opens the door to all (sane) combinations being viable at the end. Your more “typical” tank may start as a tank, but by endgame he could be a master of inflicting damage and nasty statuses. Or maybe you’ve doubled down on the tank role and added a retribution aura and some potent healing abilities. Or heck, he may end up a mix of both if that’s how you like it. 

The enemies you’ll encounter will cycle through their attacks (a la FF1), permitting the player to exploit their patterns--once you know them. However, while balancing each encounter is not too hard a process at low levels, as your custom party of four very customized heroes grows, our job gets harder; in fact, making bosses the right amount of tougher-than-you (yet winnable) becomes a logistical nightmare as we try to account for all the possibilities. That aspect of the game design will take up more of our time than any other. So give us some time (or your own excel sheet of balanced changes and we will think about merging it in--seriously).

Besides that, we continue to play with our stealth mechanics and provide you a 5th party member: Foxe himself. He may not be under your direct control, or on the front lines of battle, but where else should a master thief be than stealing items from enemies so you don’t have to waste a turn. And should those enemies run out of items--or if you equip Foxe differently--our mouth-running master thief is also capable of dealing out some extra damage (and not just he verbal kind) or applying potions in tight situations. 

Other Platforms - One of the most intriguing responses we’ve been getting from you guys is the desire to play this game on the Nintendo Switch. We want that, too! In fact we REALLY want it. Heck, we’d love to see it on the PS4 and Xbox and 3DS. And it’s highly plausible given our understanding of Unity. The unfortunate problem: it would take a lot of dev-time (a year?) to move the engine over to Unity and then an additional eternity of troubleshooting and console-debugging. While it’s certainly not out of the cards, we do want to get Voiceless out to the public as soon as possible, and a PC release first is the best way to do that (key word being “first,” not only). 

But if that’s really what you fellas want---and we want it too---we will let you tell us exactly that with our upcoming Kickstarter campaign. If that campaign proves successful enough, you decide the stretch goals: 1) upgrading to 16-bit art, 2) expanding our library of music tailored specifically for this game, and 3) getting this game on the Switch. Oh, and virtual hats, always more virtual hats.

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STUDIO

  • Kyle Bryant - Head Hat Wearer
    Developer bio achievement get! I’m lucky enough to be programming educational video games by day—but the sweet, alluring melodies of crunchy nostalgia JRPGs and their convoluted/great stories drive me to be making more video games and fewer educational games (though there is a place for that in our society). I often wear the hats of design, programing, QA, and occasionally writing if I can sneak it past Neal (got to have the puns and references). The dream is to jump from SE Collective to Kickstarter—from there to Steam and the whole world!
  • Neal Silvester - Pen Wielder / Warrior of Design
    To establish my street cred in a few words, I named my daughter after a Final Fantasy character (hint: “Bring my beloved Dagger to me!”). In working with Kyle, I have the immense fortune of partnering with someone who not only appreciates the same games I do (and who knows how to program!), but who gives me space to write what I want, and believed in me and my vision for this project from the outset. While he handles the technical aspects, I aspire to a more Sakaguchi-like “Conceived by” kind of role, which has been my dream job since I started paying more attention to my video game story ideas than my high school teachers during class a decade and a half ago. In that time I’ve also come to appreciate the finer aspects of great literature and ultimately would like to write games with those kinds of rich qualities. I hope you find some of that in Voiceless (although I admit Kyle frequently writes the wittier dialogue) and the short story collection When Once They Had Voices. If you like what you’ve seen so far, believe me: we’ve got a heckuva lot more where that comes from.