Reverse: 1999 Interview - crafting a mind-bending time traveling tale with eye-catching character designs

Ahead of Reverse: 1999’s upcoming release on October 26 for PC and mobile, we got the chance to speak with Bluepoch about it. The title was released earlier this year in China. It passed 1 million pre-registrations on its official website. You can find more information on the title here.

We discussed how the development studio came up with the idea of conceptualizing Reverse: 1999, along with how they implement characters into it. Plus, they’ve shared some of the quality-of-life enhancements coming to its English release.

Here is our chat with Bluepoch, the developers behind Reverse: 1999.


RPG Site: Reverse: 1999 revolves around a time-traveling mystery adventure that takes on a noir-like approach for its presentation. Tell me about the process in how the development team conceptualized such a unique premise and visual style.

Bluepoch: We aim to present players with a unique world where arcanists coexist with humans,
highlighting the distinct qualities of the Arcanum world - which exists in parallel yet
independently from human society. 

To us, any unfathomable powers that cannot be defined — ancient knowledge that is exceptionally elusive, and supernatural entities that break all rules of reason — can be regarded as part of Arcanum. This is an exceedingly captivating concept that cannot be succinctly encapsulated. Our visual aesthetics, narrative style, and even the overall music and voice acting have been meticulously designed to evoke this extraordinary world.

In Reverse: 1999, we incorporate elements of Arcanum in two significant ways. Firstly, Arcanists are indispensable to the entire society. They drive the development and revolutions of the world. Secondly, we manifest Arcane skills wielded by Arcanists in the actual gameplay and narrative. These skills encompass a wide array of mystical arts, including divination, alchemy, magical herbology, enchantments, and cryptozoology. 

Within the world of Reverse: 1999, players will encounter arcanists with diverse personalities and characteristics, ranging from ancient druidic lineages to young ladies from renowned potion-making families, the enigmatic Miss TTT who materializes through television screens, as well as researchers delving into the recently popular Artificial Somnambulism Therapy, among others.


RPG Site: Were there any other pieces of media that guided your process in searching for Reverse: 1999’s identity?

Bluepoch: The development team of Reverse: 1999 is composed of seasoned film enthusiasts, gamers, and individuals passionate about various other fields. The distinctive features and tone of the game gradually took shape and were meticulously crafted during the game design process, as our dedicated developers continuously sparked inspiration through their collaborative efforts.

RPG Site: An early aspect of Reverse: 1999 that stuck out to me when it was first revealed in China was that it was already voiced in English, despite the script still remaining in Chinese at the time. That is a feature I haven’t seen in many games that are natively developed there. Can you tell us more about the decision to include a full English voice script in the original Chinese release?

Bluepoch: Reverse: 1999 is set in a unique alternative 20th century, where numerous stories unfold during this distinct period in time. Players will immerse themselves in different eras and regions through the eyes of the protagonist, embarking on a fascinating journey. We place a high emphasis on providing players with an immersive experience in the game. In addition to the storyline, visuals, and music, voice acting plays a crucial role in this experience. Therefore, we have opted for full English voice acting, paying attention to possible variations in accents within the plot and characters. Our aim is to offer players a multi-dimensional and vivid experience of the story's charm.

RPG Site: Do a lot of your players from China play Reverse: 1999 with the English voiceover?

Bluepoch: Yes, many Chinese players highly appreciate the English voice acting of Reverse: 1999, and some players have even spontaneously used English in various forms of fan creations, demonstrating their passion, rich imagination, and creativity. We are extremely moved by these responses. In the future, we will continue delivering more high-quality content.


RPG Site: One of the defining aspects that sets Reverse: 1999 apart from other titles is its commitment to expressing unconventional character designs. One of the main characters is a floating, talking apple aptly named APPLe. Nick Bottom has the body of a human, yet the head of a donkey. TTT takes on the form of a young woman, yet her entire body is framed between three CRT TVs stacked on top of one another. 

Where did the development team even begin in creating such unconventional character designs? Were there any referential materials in their process when thinking about how they would look or act?

Bluepoch: Our character design process stems from the intersection of narrative and art discussions. Initially, the narrative team would select the most intriguing character concepts from a plethora of ideas. Subsequently, the artistic lead would create multiple drafts based on these concepts. Through ongoing communication and collaboration, the fascinating narrative ideas merge seamlessly with creatively designed concepts, ultimately giving birth to the various arcanists of Reverse: 1999. 

Character design is a complicated process that begins with nothing but text and ends with actual character art. Various situations, such as misunderstanding and conflicting ideas, may appear along the way. Communication is necessary to resolve these issues. After going back and forth dozens and even hundreds of times, we were finally successful in delivering a roster of Arcanists with unique personalities and interesting stories. 

The developers place great importance on the originality of characters and concepts, striving to instill a sense of novelty with the arcanists. Since the design of some characters in the game is exceptionally unique, finding references can often be challenging. Nevertheless, both the narrative and artistic creators draw inspiration from a wide range of classic and outstanding works, including but not limited to history, mythology, films, TV series, novels, games, and more.


RPG Site: Due to its nature as an ongoing live game, Reverse: 1999 will be continually getting story and content updates over time. I know it’s still far off of course, but does the game eventually have an ending to the main story that the development team has in mind?

Bluepoch: We are dedicated to delivering players a rich and profound narrative experience through Reverse: 1999. The main storyline revolves around how Vertin try to uncover the truth behind the "Storm" with her friends, and a well-crafted story always reaches a conclusion. However, the story around Vertin and her arcanist friends will not remain stagnant at any single point. We hope that the game's narrative will persist in evolving and progressing with our players.

RPG Site: Reverse: 1999 recently held a closed beta test for its upcoming English release in the west. I was fortunately a part of that and found the game fascinating. 

How did that closed beta test go for the development team and the English distributors? What sort of feedback did you get from the community that was beta testing the game? Are there any significant changes or improvements that players can expect in the full game based on feedback from the closed beta test?

Bluepoch: During the closed beta test, we received valuable feedback regarding the beginner's tutorial. As a result, we have decided to make some adjustments to ensure that players have a smooth and comfortable experience at the beginning of the story, enabling them to fully immerse themselves in the unique narrative of Reverse: 1999.

[Editor’s Note: The Reverse: 1999 development team shared a detailed list of upcoming improvements coming to the English release.]

RPG Site: Once again, thank you for taking the time to speak with us about Reverse: 1999. Please give your final messages to everyone eagerly awaiting the western release of the game.

Bluepoch: Thank you all for your attention and love for Reverse: 1999. The game is set to launch on PC and mobile platforms on October 26th, with many exciting updates and new content additions on the horizon. We sincerely hope that players worldwide will thoroughly enjoy the journey to the 20th century with Vertin.