One of the more compelling adventure games going through crowdfunding at the moment is the cute and family friendly Nairi. The adorable characters, challenging puzzles, and social structure of Shirin all add to the charm of the game. I spoke with the developers at Home Bear Studio to get a closer look at this unique title.
Nairi tells the tale of a young upper-class human girl and former rat thief as they travel the city. While the developers wouldn’t say much about the plot for fear of spoilers, they did reveal some interesting bits about their journey. Most notably, the game will take them all over the city of Shirin. Every district, and landmark “dungeon” will be explored to some extent.
The journey won’t just a physical one, but a personal one as well. The games protagonists, Nairi and Rex, will grow during the story, perhaps maturing quite a bit by the end. Who knows, maybe they’ll grow close as they reach the mysterious tower. Home Bear is keeping a lot of this to themselves for now, but the mystery will hopefully just make the journey even better when we get to play it upon release.
We already knew Shirin was divided by social class through the Kickstarter pitch. This was quite intentional, and “just like in real cities, there’s a certain ‘social-economical divide’ between areas.” Nairi apparently will delve deep into this socio-economic divide. In fact, this adventure is being created for an “all ages” audience.
Nairi promises a family friendly atmosphere, a game that allows children to enjoy the cute visuals and adults to enjoy the more nuanced themes. Home Bear didn’t want to make a “childish game”, but one did let everyone enjoy something. It’s a challenging balancing act, but one they’re enjoying pursuing. Frankly, this is one of the major selling points for me. It’s great to see an adventure game focus on various age groups.
Reading Between the Lines
Which brings me to the art design. This is the other major selling point for me. I instantly fell in love with the cute characters. The contrast between the adorable visuals and mature themes certainly shows they’re willing to do something different. According to developer Joshua van Kuilenburg, “much like certain fairy tales and parables, it forces you to read between the lines.”
I brought up the decision to use animals living alongside humans, and it was brought to my attention they had originally planned on having Nairi be the only human in the game. In fact, humans are just “another animal” living alongside bears and rats and rabbits. “We didn’t want to give humanity an elevated level of importance.” They’re no more important in Shirin than any other resident living there.
The Kickstarter Experience
I also asked about their experiences with running a crowdfunding campaign for Nairi. Anyone that’s been around for a while know it’s a full time job during the month or so a campaign is running. It can also be stressful, especially if it doesn’t receive much publicity. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy for Home Bear Studio to get a lot of attention. Joshua told me he wasn’t very knowledgeable about marketing, something that could hurt a campaign. “I didn’t really know what I was doing on the marketing-front – luckily I’ve got some professionals to help me out now!”
When asked why they went through Kickstarter, I was told they wanted to stay an independent studio. Bringing in a publisher didn’t even enter their minds. Another reason is one all too familiar to regular backers of Kickstarter. Getting feedback from fans is as important as getting the money needed to make the game. It seems that people love the idea behind Nairi, myself included. They’ve managed to get nearly two hundred backers so far, which is respectable especially for an adventure game.
Like so many other crowdfunding projects, Nairi is a passion project of Home Bear Studios. They’ll do their best to get a quality game out, but it might not happen without funding from fans. With less than ten days left, it can happen. However, it won’t happen without support from backers and fans. I really would love to see it succeed, so do check it out.