“Once upon a time there was an old man who longed to tell stories that touched the heart, though it was said that he lacked one himself…”
Torn Tales is a tactical RPG set in a hybrid of many different fantasy stories. I was brought in to write a cutscene script that could tell the story in an efficient yet interesting way – a single narrator, and a storybook style with the degree of subversion you’d expect with Snow White, Robin Hood and Dr. Jekyll rampaging around Treasure Island to kill the Evil Queen. As is often the case, the levels and basic flow were in place, but lacking the connective tissue to explain why, for instance, you’d go from a marsh to some ice-caves to fight a golem. Likewise, there needed to be a more fleshed out motivation for the villain, an evil Bookbinder using blood magic to weaponise stories, and a persistent flowing story to connect the different levels and extended combat sequences via relatively rare hand-drawn cut-scenes.
Without much budget for either time or action, I created a ‘tale of two narrators’ approach to the story – a traditional one, in keeping with the ‘familiar’ versions of most of the stories, complete with an intentional tweeness that slowly fades as the team becomes more familiar with each other and comes to realise each others’ dark secrets, and Bookbinder, cutting in to tell things his way, which is presented as the team letting their darker sides taking over in moments of stress. Of course, fairy tale fans will recognise that what’s actually happening is a burst back to earlier versions of the tales – the Snow White who happily murdered the wicked queen, for instance. The overall theme is the Bookbinder hoping to show the hypocrisy of heroism, and how even the greatest can fall short of expectations if given just a slight push. This was also how I worked Jekyll in as a member of the team – a man who already knows his dark side all too well, and works as both subtle moral compass, ironic commentator, and cool way of pulling everything together for the final battle with the Bookbinder. And of course, dealing with him.
This was a short but fun project, at least from my side. I wasn’t involved with the game side at all, just the cut-scene script and converting the basic brief into a storyline. Still, I think we came up with something fitting that adds depth to the setting and characters without over-burdening the action. All of it is ably assisted by delicious narration from Stefan Corrnicard, who plays all of the characters and really did justice to the tricky twin-narrator concept.
Behind his smile and natural charm, years of fighting have left history’s greatest outlaw more tired than he would admit. Pushed to his limits by the Bookbinder’s minions, can he maintain his sense of justice?
The fairest of them all has not found life particularly fair. Exiled and hunted by the Evil Queen, she fears that her newly discovered talent for the coldest of magic may hint they are not as different as she believes.
The Bookbinder believes that deep down, all heroes have a dark side. Jekyll knows his, intimately. Will his lead the others to their doom, or will they finally teach him to bring the monster Hyde under control?