Hi everyone, my name is Kevin and I’m a designer at Klei Entertainment. I’m really excited to give everyone a preview of Griftlands which releases June 4 on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 backwards compatibility. Griftlands is a narrative RPG with several cool stories to experience based on your actions and choices. It’s also a deck-building card game with deep interlocking systems driving both combat and negotiation through card mechanics. We believe players are going to have a lot of fun fighting, lying, cheating, bribing and talking smoothly to achieve victory. Let’s dive in.
There are three main characters in Griftlands, each with their own unique problem to solve. Sal the bounty hunter wants revenge. Rook the spy is working on a mysterious contract. Smith tries to reclaim his inheritance and has a great time doing so.
These high-level goals are the same every time you play, but the daily obstacles you overcome in pursuit of them vary wildly. Different sub-graphs and events are pulled from a pool each time. The cast of characters changes as different NPCs are chosen into different roles and react to your choices. Your friend in one game, with their unique mechanical strengths and weaknesses, may be your enemy in the next. We’re even changing the boss fights you encounter at the end of each day, to keep things fresh.
Most problems in Havaria can be solved either with your words or with your fists. However, in Griftlands, both are driven by unique card game mechanics. You play both physical and verbal battles while playing cards! Playing cards make them stronger each time they’re played, and choosing a deck over another will give you the option to add a new card to it at the end of successful encounters.
Success comes down to having the right cards and playing them correctly in every situation. But you can’t always do exactly what you want – context matters. Your decks get stronger with use, so it’s important to balance your use of each, lest one of your skills get behind and you get caught off guard by a strong opponent. NPCs will also notice everything you do and treat you accordingly. Saving someone from wild animals will earn their respect, but killing someone’s best friend, for example, will make them take revenge and actively work against you.
Here’s a real-life example, featuring Rook:
Rook’s employer gives him a choice of jobs at the start of the second day. He chooses to collect a debt from Ionis. On the way to find her, Rook meets a stranger being attacked by wild animals.
It’s early day two in Rook’s story, so he has a relatively strong combat deck. He chooses to fight the beasts. He gains at the cost of a little health and can also choose a new combat card to add to his deck.
After the fight, we find out that the stranger’s name is Wade and she offers to give Rook a reward. Rook refuses the award, instead earning Wade’s gratitude. This gives him a passive bonus based on Wade’s character class. In addition, Wade promises to help her in the future if she is able to.
Rook continues his work. He intimidates Ionis and collects the debt. This angered Ionis, who swears revenge. This gives Rook a continuous passive penalty, making it harder for his second job that day.
At the end of the day, Rook returns to the inn where he is staying. By chance, Ionis and Wade are there. It’s a chance for Rook to finally do something about this pesky penalty.
Rook tries to provoke Ionis with a negotiation. Wade rushes to help his friend, making the negotiation much easier than it would otherwise be.
Rook succeeds. Enraged at being outmatched, a now impetuous Ionis challenges him to a duel and attacks. Rook’s enhanced battle deck does little to his foe, and Ionis and his penalty die on the dirt-encrusted floor of the inn.
Rook recovers a lost resolve by sharing some refreshments with his best friend Wade before continuing the boss fight for the day.
Each run through Griftlands weaves these tales seamlessly through the main plot. Each time you will have different allies and enemies, and the relative strengths of your two decks will present you with new and interesting challenges. Story-rich gameplay and replayability may seem like opposing goals, but we hope Griftlands shows that sometimes they can work together. Released June 4 on PS4.