Chained Echoes is a love letter to old-school 16-bit RPGs. The game has been well-received by critics and players alike. We here at Lords of Gaming had the opportunity to sit down with the game’s developer, Matthias Linda, and discuss everything related to Chained Echoes, its success, and what’s next on the horizon.
LOGNET: First off congratulations on shipping Chained Echoes and thank you so much for finding the time to answer our questions. For those who are not familiar with Chained Echoes, can you give us an overview of what the game is and some of its prominent features?
ML: Chained Echoes is my personal respect to the SNES and PSX JRPG games. It features turn-based combat with a twist called the Overdrive System, a huge world to explore, and quite a few twists in general. It has mechs, magic and you can pet the dog. It is my magnus opus I created during the last seven years.
LOGNET: Chrono Trigger was regularly referenced when it comes to your game, how do you feel about that? What were some of the inspirations behind Chained Echoes?
ML: Chrono Trigger is one of the best games ever made. I feel honored being mentioned with it in the same sentence. It is quite obvious that I was heavily inspired by it. But also from games such as Xenogears, Suikoden 2, Final Fantasy VI, Breath of Fire, and so on.
LOGNET: Your game has been received very well by both critics and players alike, what’s your reaction to that?
ML: To be honest, I don’t know. It feels still very unrealistic. I’m happy. I’m confused. And very much overwhelmed. The first days were harsh, it felt like running against a wall at full speed. I am slowly starting to realize that this is real.
LOGNET: Chained Echoes has a very distinctive art style harkening back to the 16-bit era, what was the thought process and influences when deciding on the art styles you chose?
ML: It is the style I’m capable of. I tried to create a visual experience which looks like I remember the games I played as a child. Obviously, it looks very different from how they actually look like. But you know, in my mind they’ll always look so much better and more colorful than they actually are. And that’s what I went for.
LOGNET: What are some of the challenges faced when developing the game? What was the process like to balance retro-style RPG mechanics for modern audiences?
ML: The roughest challenge was to make everything run at some point. I had all the systems, the levels, the characters in place but everything was separated in different builds and test scenes. Throwing everything together was quite the challenge but well worth it. I’m happy I started doing that rather early.
Regarding the balancing, to be honest, I don’t know. I just did it like I thought I’d like to have it. Gave it to my publisher, got feedback, tweaked, fixed. Gave it to Kickstarter Backers, received even more feedback. Tweaked it, adjusted things and so on.
LOGNET: There seems to be a comeback of sorts of 1980s and 1990s RPGs in the market, what do you think is contributing to this resurgence?
ML: Age. Figure out how old the developers are and you’ll know with which games they grew up. And then you have some, much like me, who want to recreate the feelings they had as a child.
LOGNET: How was your experience in releasing Chained Echoes day one on Xbox Game Pass? Was it a simple decision and process?
ML: It was a no-brainer. To be honest, I have no idea how the process exactly works, my publisher handled that for me. And looking back, we wouldn’t make a different decision.
LOGNET: Seeing that Chained Echoes is so well received, we are sure many aspiring video game developers would love to pick your brain. What advice would you give those who want to break into the industry?
ML: I have no advices. My story is different from others. There is no go-to formula. If you want to work on your indie game, make sure to keep your day job as long as possible. Learn in your spare time. Financial security is key. I see so many people giving up everything and sacrificing themselves. That’s… dangerous.
LOGNET: Shipping Chained Echoes is a tremendous achievement, and we’re sure you’re not done basking in its success but we have to ask what’s next on the horizon?
ML: Right now I am running from one cold to another. Seems like my body is telling me to get some rest. And that’s what I am doing. Giving it some rest, working right now like 3 to 4 hours per day, fixing stuff, working on patches. I have not yet decided on what’s next. I obviously have a few options. And I’m discussing that with Deck13. But a final decision hasn’t been made.