Hello gangsters! I’m Ian O’Neill, the lead combat designer on Empire of Sin. We at Romero Games are really excited to have you familiarize yourself with Empire of Sin when it releases tomorrow on PS4.
Set in 1920s Chicago, Empire of Sin is set at the start of American Prohibition, a time when mobsters and organized crime began to take hold and flourish. As you decide to build and run your criminal empire during the legendary Chicago era of Prohibition, you play as one of 14 bosses. Each boss comes with their own unique diplomatic bonus, empire bonus, and a powerful unique ability that they can use in battle. I’m going to select a few of the bosses and dive into the unique boss abilities you’ll use to make your way to the top and become the King or Queen of Chicago.
Daniel McKee Jackson and the last rites
A renowned gentleman of the time, Daniel McKee Jackson came from a family of Undertakers and ran an illegal casino in the basement of the funeral home. Combined with a college education and a penchant for gentlemanly manners and diplomatic tact, Last Rites is Jackson’s signature in the world of Empire of Sin; elegant action in a brutal environment.
When triggered, we see Jackson adopting a unique stance, a pistol-dueling stance, as he takes aim at his target. Once triggered, Jackson will begin to discharge his pistol into the target. If the target is killed and there are bullets left in the pistol clip, it will focus on another target until the clip is empty. A true and final Last Rites for anyone unhappy enough to be the recipient.
Maggie Dyer and Lion Tamer
As the name suggests, Maggie is no stranger to dangerous environments and characters hostile to her blood. Using her master’s whip, Maggie can trap her target and shoot them towards her. This allows Maggie to dislodge annoying and stubborn opponents or lure tougher enemies away from their party and into the open, leaving them vulnerable.
Before they can find their bearings, Maggie delivers a vicious uppercut that will let them stare at the lights. The melee attack at the end of Lion Tamer has a guaranteed KO effect that will leave the target vulnerable and unable to move or use actions for one turn.
Dean O’Banion and Blastphemy
Dean’s combat ability is an attack known as Blastphemy. There have been many accounts of his brutal attacks during the Chicago Newspaper Wars. O’Banion and his team were known as “Sluggers” and they beat the competition for rival newspapers. This often resulted in close range shootings. This is where I took inspiration from Blastphemy. Using this move Dean shoots a custom shotgun slug from his short barreled shotgun at his target, once the slug hits the target it explodes in a shower of shards.
But I really wanted to add something more, something that would really give this ability a stroke. This is where I decided that Dean’s boss ability would be devastating for heavily armored enemies. I wanted to completely shred their armor, and not just one target, but multiple targets! And as the last piece of the puzzle… the name. A terrible and brutal attack launched by an enemy who considered himself a saint. “Blastphemy” was a very apt title.
Mabel Ryley and the crook shooting
Have you ever wanted to shoot that enemy in the corner room but just didn’t have the right position or couldn’t get the right line of sight? Me too. I really wanted to explore this issue in depth and see what we could do with it.
I’d seen shots executed before, both in movies and in real life, and was always fascinated by the skill involved in trying to ricochet a bullet. Taking some liberties with the idea, I started working on the mechanics of an ability that would allow the player to ricochet a bullet off an enemy. Each subsequent ricochet target becomes the point of origin of the next ricochet. This means that you select a target to mark it as your first ricochet point, then select any target they can see and have a line of sight, then start over with the second target.
This translates to some really crazy stuff. Being able to ricochet a bullet into a room or corners is one of my favorite things to do in the game. Oh, and did I mention that would deal damage to anyone caught in its path? And it will apply a unique status effect called “Deep Wounds” which will deal a significant amount of damage to the target if it moves. This is one of the most unique and technical actions you will come across in Empire of Sin.
Elvira Duarte and the devil’s breath
Set in 1920s Chicago, Empire of Sin posed unique challenges when designing ability bosses. There are a number of gameplay mechanics that fans of turn-based fighting games have become familiar with over the years that wouldn’t translate very well in this historical setting. Elvira Duarte posed her own unique yet fun challenge. Elvira is a self-taught woman who built her empire from scratch with nothing but her own will and determination. But she’s also a 65-year-old Mexican girl. So giving her a brutal physical attack or a heavy machine gun and letting her go “Rambo” felt… well, that was great, but wrong. (Note: you can totally do that by the way – give her a machine gun and go crazy! There’s nothing stopping you.) But it shattered the context of who she was as a character. And I wanted to stay true to that.
I came across an article on a drug called Scopolamine or “Devil’s Breath”. This substance was believed to be used by criminals in Colombia to drug and steal their clients. These reports indicated that the drug caused the victims to become open to suggestion, mentally flexible. In this state, they would force the victim to hand over their money and other valuables. The actual effects of the drug are incomprehensible at best, and it is unclear whether it actually has such abilities. But at that point, I knew I had a tangible way to create a unique Boss ability that would fit the context of our character, Elvira.
After some more research, I found that the knowledge and use of this drug is much older than the articles suggested and that it has been used for years in various other medical treatments. So it was on schedule. I now had a way to create a 1920s version of mind control. Or, a very fleeting and fatal version of mind control. One thing you will come across often in Empire of Sin is how fatal the world is. There is no room for half measures. It’s kill or be killed. So I made the effects of Devil’s Breath fatal. You take control of the target character, but he also dies slowly. It helps balance the ability and adds a nice touch of sinister finality to its effect. Oh! And one more thing: it’s not only thugs and thugs that can fall victim to the effects of Devil’s Breath, but bosses too!
And that’s not even half of the bosses!
Phew! And that’s not even half of the bosses covered! There are nine more to choose from. Whether you prefer the close and personal approach or you like to resolve conflicts from a distance, there is something for everyone. And the whole Romero Games team can’t wait for you to get to grips with Empire of Sin tomorrow. We can’t wait to see how you build your own criminal empire.
See you in the streets, boss!