Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars Interview - Talking tabletop, cards, and more with the dev team
Square Enix's Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars was initially teased barely over a month before it suddenly released in October. Previously, Yosuke Saito and Yoko Taro had hinted at an ‘unusual’ game on this scale, which is certainly a different step from larger titles like NieR: Automata or the NieR re-release. This new approach resulted in Voice of Cards, an RPG fully based around a card aesthetic, emulating the feel of table-top games.
I had a chance to ask the main staff behind Voice of Cards a few questions, wherein we talked about the game’s creation, table-top influences, soundtrack and more. You can check out our conversation below.
RPG Site: Part of the development team is Alim, who has worked on mobile titles prior, how did everyone come together to start on this project?
Yosuke Saito, Executive Producer: My biggest reason for this is because I felt that Alim is very thorough when they create games, as seen in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and Brave Frontier. Another major reason was because when we first started development, we were considering making this game primarily for the smartphone platform. In regards to having Mr. Yoko Taro, Mr. Keiichi Okabe, and myself involved… well, I think that was set in stone from the get-go, as if it was second nature. Come to think of it, it was Mr. Yoko’s idea, so we probably could’ve gone with different members outside of him and Mr. Kimihiko Fujisaka, huh? (laughs)
RPG Site: As this game plays more like a traditional JRPG, rather than being more like a CRPG which originates from tabletop games... Has anyone on the development team played tabletop games (RPGs or otherwise)? If so, what types of games were they and did they influence Voice of Cards in any way?
Maasa Mimura, Director: Yes! Various team members have experience with tabletop games, from traditional ones, like “Dungeons & Dragons” and the Cthulhu Mythos games, to digital RPGs, like Dragon Quest or ones you play out of a gamebook. That being said, I myself never really had the opportunity to get my hands on them, so I would ask other members in- and outside of the development team or check them out on my own. I wanted to make it so that in Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars, it feels like someone is reading out of a gamebook, or you would wish strongly before rolling your die, so these tabletop games were great reference. I love games in which the components are beautiful, so I was very particular about how we depicted elements that are shiny, like the gems and the gold foil.
RPG Site: Most pen and paper games rely on books, maybe maps & figurines. So why were cards chosen to represent everything, from your party members to the ground you walk on?
Yoko Taro, Creative Director: I think the core of what makes these analog games so interesting is the communication between the people when faced with one another. I understand those elements cannot be included in a single-player computer RPG, so rather than trying to turn an analog game into a computer RPG, our starting approach was to replace as many elements that resemble computer RPG into a more analog depiction. In the end, we were able to come up with a game that has a very unconventional format, and so I was very satisfied by that.
RPG Site: Did this game’s presentation lead to any particular inspirations or a different direction when creating the soundtrack?
Keiichi Okabe, Music Director: Compared to games with lots of action-packed elements, the gameplay moves at a much calmer pace, and so, many of the tracks are calm in tone as well. Also, there are fewer songs overall, plus you’d have to listen to some of the songs for extended periods of time, so I was very cognizant about players not getting tired of hearing the same song and not to make the melody stand out too much.
Furthermore, from looking at Mr. Fujisaka’s illustrations and receiving Mr. Yoko's requests, I got a very Celtic vibe from them; and so, I was mindful about Irish and Celtic music, using as many acoustic instrument sounds as my foundation, plus I incorporated our unique musical sensibilities to create the atmosphere for “Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars”.
RPG Site: What’s your number one winning strategy for the Parlour mini-game?
Maasa Mimura, Director: The mini-game is a nod to card games that can be played casually, without having to worry too much about strategy, and so there’s a strong emphasis on the element of luck. As such, it may be quite difficult if you go into it with the mentality of “I have to win!”
… Perhaps it’s best that you have the resolve to not give up.
RPG Site: Thank you for your time!