Interview – Rainbite: Developers of Reverie
In 2018 the PlayStation Vita tends to be forgotten in discussions about handheld platforms and the games they boast. One developer intends to have an impact on that conversation in a big way. Join Paul as he sits down to discuss Reverie with Tom Butler, one of the three members of Rainbite who have been developing the game with the Vita in mind.
Paul: Before we go any further, I must take a moment to congratulate you all on the success you’ve achieved so far, and the development of the game to date. There may be a subset of our readers that have not yet heard of Reverie though, could you please take a moment to tell our readers a little bit about it?
Rainbite: Thanks, we have tried our best to include our followers and share our development as much as we can. Reverie is a 2D, open-world, action/adventure game set on a small, fictional island off the coast of New Zealand in the early 2000’s. Explore the world through the perspective of Tai, a young boy unravelling a story inspired by Maori legends.
Paul: So where does the story of Rainbite and its members begin? What inspired each of you to get into games development
Rainbite: Rainbite began when we all met in the first year of University at Media Design School. We all did Software Engineering degrees but have floated into different roles to fit the needs of the company. All three of us pretty much have a similar story of getting into games. We have all played games for as long as we can remember and we all went into the same university degree with the same dream of creating our own game that we could be proud of.
Paul: There are quite a few tips of the hat to New Zealand present in the game, as developers based out of New Zealand, how did the homeland inspire the creative/artistic direction of the game?
Rainbite: All of us in the team have lived in New Zealand our whole lives so it was pretty easy to take inspiration and include parts of our home country in Reverie. The base idea for the game came from a combination of our childhood memories of summer holidays. We wanted to create a game world and adventure that mixed Maori myths with childhood imagination and memories of our summer holidays. There are also heaps of little references to New Zealand food and pop culture that we had to sneak in.
Paul: At first blush, Earthbound was a game that immediately sprung to mind when I first found Reverie. Was it, or any other game a particular source of inspiration in terms of the games visual style?
Rainbite: Earthbound was a big visual inspiration initially, and as we got further into development we started taking notes and techniques from StarTropics as well. We also really liked the colours and the way the world was represented in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. A lesser known game that inspired the style is Crystalis on NES.
Paul: What will the moment to moment action be like? What can players expect to be doing whilst they’re playing Reverie, and what mechanics should we expect to encounter?
Rainbite: A lot of people see the game and think Earthbound and may assume Reverie is a turn-based JRPG, but the game is played completely in real time with action adventure gameplay. The second to second gameplay will involve using multiple items to slow, stun or hit enemies as well as solve interesting puzzles using those same items. We try to keep things fresh throughout the whole experience, so we are introducing new environmental mechanics and items regularly. Some examples would be pushing blocks, shooting targets, hitting switches and much more. There is an open world to explore with 8 different regions as well as 6 dungeons.
Paul: So you spoke of a more action-centric approach to gameplay, and outlined some of what we will be doing. Were there any games/franchises that influenced the direction that the gameplay took?
Rainbite: Gameplay was primarily inspired by older 2D Legend of Zelda games. We tried to make it into our own by using items appropriate for the themes and setting of Reverie. Puzzle gameplay was inspired by any game that we have played that involves puzzles really. There isn’t anything too specific to pin down for that.
Paul: Reverie has been developed first and foremost for the Vita, before coming to PS4 down the line. As a card-carrying member of Vita Island, a must firstly say thank you, but then must ask, what inspired the Vita first policy, and can we expect to see the game branch out beyond the PlayStation platforms in the future?
Rainbite: Before we even began on development of Reverie, we all played our Vitas and talked about one day making a game for the console. The end of our final year at university is when we started talking about it in a more serious note rather than just dreams and realised we could make this a reality. We initially planned to only develop for the Vita but after Eastasiasoft got in contact with us we also decided to go with PS4 as well. We can also confirm that we are looking into other platforms after both Playstation releases, namely the Switch.
Paul: When can players, including this excited interviewer, expect to be getting their hands on Reverie?
Rainbite: We’ve been saying Q1 2018 since the very beginning of development and we are very happy to say we are sticking to that for North America! Reverie will be out on the 29th of March for North America. Unfortunate circumstances required the European release date to be pushed to the 5th of April but we hope you all enjoy it soon!
Paul: A massive thank you to Tom and the team at Rainbite for their time and if you want to learn more about the game then be sure to visit their website
Born and bred on the Super Nintendo era, Paul relishes any opportunity to sink his teeth into an RPG, action or platformer. Despite being an owner of all major platforms, Paul does have a particular love of the Playstation family of consoles – take only a few minutes to skim through his Twitter and you’ll see him ranting about the next big thing on PS4. We swear he’s sane.