We’re currently working on a review for Theatre of Sorrows, so I got in touch with Cat-astrophe Games to talk a bit about its development. Come check it out!
PS4Blog: Hi Joanna! Good to have you back with us this morning. How is everything on your end?
Hi! It’s been a while since our last talk – and the whole world managed to go through a few crises and a pandemic in the meantime – but luckily, I’m doing okay. Moreover, I’m glad to be back with a new game!
PS4B: This time around, you’re here to talk about Theatre of Sorrows…and, go!
Theatre of Sorrows is a game we all at CAG wanted to make. It combines a dark and twisted narrative of cosmic horror with the excitement of random events, the procedurally-generated map of a roguelite, and the challenge of a resource management game. It’s a bit like the “choose your own adventure” stories we all read when we were younger, but presented in a modern, interactive way.
The premise is pretty simple: the main characters, Killian and Eileen, are twins. Orphaned at a young age, they try to live their life to the fullest, despite the hardships they face. Suddenly, Eileen goes missing without a word. Soon after, Killian receives a letter from a mysterious cult, saying that if he wants to see his sister again, he has to do as they say.
That’s how the players find themselves at the island of Esha, which is… to put it nicely, a damn weird place. Local residents treat you like an intruder, everyone is wearing those creepy masks covering their faces for no apparent reason, and the whole city looks like it got stuck in time sometime between the 1950s and 1980s… And the cult that made you come here? It turns out they need you to prepare some creepy ingredients for this ritual they’re trying to conduct and therefore send you on various errands all over the island.
And then, of course, we have monsters, rituals, sacrifices, secrets, some gore, and overall creepiness… but that’s something I’d rather have the players experience on their own!
PS4B: How long did it take to develop Theatre of Sorrows? Were there any changes to the overall design for the game between the original concept phase and the version we’ll now get to play on the Nintendo Switch?
The whole development, from the very first design to the final build, took us ten months. We definitely had to adjust the initial scope and design of the game to the time we had been given; some mechanics had to be simplified, some, unfortunately, had to be scrapped completely. But that’s the reality of game development, I think. So definitely, the changes had to be made, and the final gameplay is a bit simpler than the first draft.
I also wish we had more time to put in even more random events in order to create a better randomization system, but we did our best, and I can’t really complain. I’m happy that most of the planned narrative made it to the game either way.
PS4B: Anything you can tell us about the sequel for The Unholy Society?
Ahhh, I wish I had more to share! The good news is, most of the systems, dialogues, and graphic assets for the second game are ready and waiting for some final touches, balancing, and testing. Unfortunately, due to COVID, we had to temporarily stop working on the sequel – which is fully funded from our own pocket, without any help from publishers or investors – and focus on more commercial projects that allowed us to survive the worst of the pandemic. I really hope we will be able to go back and finish it soon, but I can’t give you any details about when that will happen.
PS4B: And now it’s time for us to go. Would you like to add anything else?
Thank you so much for having me here! And to all the readers, please give lots of love to Theatre of Sorrows! Feel free to drop your comments about it on social media. We’re always more than happy to hear your thoughts!