A Kick for Kickstarters: Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan

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I’ve covered plenty of intriguing crowdfunding games on this blog over the last couple of years (yes, it’s been that long), but I’ll be honest: the vast majority of them tend to be in similar genres. If you were to sift through the lineup, you’d find plenty of roguelikes, Metrodvanias, and classic-style western RPGs, with the occasional Japanese RPG-inspired title, traditional platformer, and visual novel here and there. But that happens for good reason, as game development teams should mostly work on what they know, along with what’s best for the resources they have. Not to mention crowdfunding a project in a genre too abstract sadly can sadly be a recipe for failure, because the pledger has no idea of whether they’ll enjoy it.

That partly explains what’s happening with the lack of funding contributions to Lab Zero Games’ Indivisible, a title in a familiar genre but with unfamiliar battle mechanics. Of course, that people don’t trust IndieGoGo as much as Kickstarter is also a serious issue.

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But it’s also affecting another game, despite it being on Kickstarter. It flew under my radar when its campaign began, but I’m I could cover it before time ran out. Though Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan’s crowdfunding campaign started in mid-September, this wasn’t its first appearance. No, Cameroon-based development studio Kiro’o Games, and creator Madiba Olivier, originally teased this action/RPG steeped in African mythology in February, where they started a campaign to raise awareness through Steam Greenlightand eventually Steam itself. It received enough votes to get through Valve’s system through the combined efforts of their advertising and press coverage, but the developers still needed outside funding to finish the project. That’s why they’re pursuing crowdfunding for what they need.

In addition to its African mythological themes, the developers claim Aurion takes inspiration from Bandai Namco’s Tales titles. I can see that, but the combat reminds me more of Vanillaware’s titles, specifically Muramasa: The Demon Blade — with a bit of Dragon’s Crown thrown in. The main characters are Prince Enzo Kori-Odan and Erine Evou, both of whom were scheduled to marry each other until the former’s brother in law puts his plan to overthrow them in motion. The game will involve Enzo and Erine teaming up to stop him, along with uniting the people of their homeland of Zama.

Enzo is the primary fighter, who uses mysterious energy called the “Aurion” to channel his ancestors’ powers. He’s reliant on physical attacks and aggressiveness. His bride-to-be, Erine, is a support character who handles magic and healing capabilities. Their roles in battle are hardly original, but I can forgive that thanks to its overall concept being uncharted territory.

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Africa has a rich past full of intriguing mythology and folklore, but it’s underutilized by many forms of entertainment — especially video games. The developers behind Aurion want to change that, and the campaign management team made sure to display their efforts on the Kickstarter page through details, screens, artwork, and animated GIFs. Sure, its animation isn’t the best around, but it’s being worked on by a small development team as their first big title, and it’s serviceable enough for that purpose.

That’s why the team asked for a mere $40,000 for their initial goal, which should be enough to fund the remainder of the project considering what they’ve already completed. It’s good that the goal is low, too, since funding isn’t moving at a fast pace. They could have been hoping for it to move faster than it is, as shown with the stretch goals for localizations in other languages and a PS4 version at $75,000 and $100,000, respectively. It’s unlikely to reach that high at its current rate, but it’s not impossible with a big last-minute kick.

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Sure, funding has been a little slow for Aurion due to African mythology being unfamiliar to some and its low-budget nature. But the biggest reason for this is due to the developers being an unestablished team, which is making some people understandably hesitant to pledge their money towards this despite its intriguing looks. You can’t blame anyone for thinking this, especially when some campaigns have gone off the rails after their funding periods recently. Those who pledged are taking a risk, but let’s hope it pays off for them here.

Aurion should turn out fine if its remaining development time is managed well, and we’ve seen encouraging signs of that through this campaign and its earlier promotion. Kiro’o Games is hoping to complete and release the game for PC soon, perhaps as early as April 2016 according to the crowdfunding page. It would be great if this could lead to more developers taking inspiration from African mythology, and the growth of game development in Africa as a whole, but let’s see how this one turns out first.

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