‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illness

Gelo Lasin
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For the better part of the year, Filipinos have been subtly flexing about just how good we could be in creating video games that are both meaningful and entertaining.

We’ve seen ‘Ang Ospital‘, a survival horror made by students from Caloocan, ‘Balete City RPG‘ which aims to explore Philippine mythology beyond ‘aswangs’, and our personal fave, ‘Mamayani‘, which highlights the escapades of Filipina revolutionary heroes.

Now, it seems that 2019 has gifted us another gaming gem in the form of ‘Towertale‘.

Towertale, ‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illness

‘Towertale’ is an adventure game produced by MiSou Games, an indie developer from Quezon City composed of friends Blas Dizon, Danielle Endrino, and Osias Bantug.

Right off the bat, Towertale is a standout thanks to its smooth animation, colorful visuals, and a beautiful musical score which wouldn’t be out of place in bigger and more well-funded projects.

Towertale is now officially released!

#Towertale is now officially released!Change your fate and fight for your existence in this narrative-driven boss-rush adventure game!Buy now on Steam:https://store.steampowered.com/app/980480/Towertale/

Posted by MiSou Games on Tuesday, July 30, 2019

 

We The Pvblic managed to chat with the game’s solo programmer Blas about the struggles of being a Filipino indie developer, on the current gaming landscape, and the underlying message of ‘Towertale’.

First of all, how’d you get the name ‘MiSou Games?’

In the beginning, it was just me and my girlfriend Danielle. The MiSou from our name actually came from the combination of our pen names. My online name is ‘Mipzy’ and hers is ‘Soulty’.

Towertale, ‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illness
Danielle Endrino and Blas Dizon.

Could you give us a brief synopsis of ‘Towertale‘?

‘Towertale is a narrative driven boss-rush adventure game. The story revolves around a certain tower created by an Ancient being who will grant ‘the ability to change your fate’ to the first person who reaches the top.

It has 4 playable characters (Lionel Blueheart, Faindrel Ashelm, Lord Snicklefritz and Dark Echo), each with their own storylines that intertwine with one another. Plus, it has four endings and three other game modes.’

Towertale, ‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illness

What was the inspiration behind the story?

I definitely took a page from my own experiences. Underneath all of Towertale’s boss fights and fantasy setting is a story about mental illness.

*slight spoilers*

For example, one of the characters, Lord Snicklefritz, wishes to rid himself of his bond with his Master, which is a metaphor of one’s unwillingness to let go of someone who left them. Another called ‘Dark Echo‘ – whose name means ‘darker self’ – wants to erase the nagging pains and mistakes of his past.

Towertale, ‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illnessThe idea of ‘climbing a tower for the ability to change your fate’ also comes from my belief that coping with mental health issues is not about removing the problem entirely, but rather, accepting that you have it, learning to live with it and moving on.

How long did it take to develop ‘Towertale‘?

It took us two years to finish the game. It was definitely a struggle. My health started failing since I worked on Towertale 6-10 hours a day, 7 days a week. There was little to no financial assistance. Even our school discouraged us. It took a little bit of prodding for my parents to help us out with the budget.

Towertale, ‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illnessWhat made you so passionate in developing video games?

Video games were a huge part of my childhood. I still remember the times when me and my dad were playing Mario on the Family Computer.

In college, me and Osias were part of an org that focused on game development. We had a ton of fun making small, prototype games that we were able to showcase during a school event.

Given all of our experiences, it was during our last year in college when we decided to chase our dreams and develop our own indie games.

Towertale, ‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illness
Osias Bantug

What do you think about the current gaming landscape?

Honestly, a lot of video games these days, especially those on mobile, are mostly pay to win or cash grab games. Some even implement gambling mechanics and psychological tactics that target minors.

Even the president of our school told us to ‘make games to target sins because that’s where the profit is.’ It was disgusting and I decided never to work for soulless companies who make those types of games.

We want to do the opposite. We want to make games that make you ‘feel’. Games that are, not only fun, but will teach you good values.

Towertale, ‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illness

What’s next for MiSou Games?

Before we move on to our next project, we’re looking to port Towertale to mobile devices and even on Switch.

Our next project will also depend on the sales of the game. I was planning to develop an adventure game that is set in a world of food. I want to make a secret Filipino styled level there. Like imagine fighting a giant living lechon or swimming in sinigang and walking on roads made of sisig.

I would like to continue that project if possible. But yeah, let’s see.

Towertale, ‘Towertale’: This Filipino indie RPG casts a spotlight on mental illness

 

Follow and buy Towertale on its steam page: https://store.steampowered.com/app/980480/Towertale/

Get Towertale on Itch.io: https://misougames.itch.io/towertale

Towertale’s Website: https://www.misougames.com/towertale

MiSou Games Website: https://www.misougames.com/