But what have we seen of African culture and mythology in video games? Considering it’s derived from the second largest continent and home to over 25% of the world’s countries, sadly, not much.
Now, after a decade of planning and growth, Cameroon-based studio Kiro’o Games is hoping to change that with Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan, an action-RPG that hopes to inspire others to the rich culture Africa can bring to the world of games. The game is currently running a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for development.
Kiro’o Games was founded ten years ago by Olivier Madiba, then called the Madibao Corporation Studio, while Madiba was in college. As the studio grew and hired more designers, they changed their name to M@dia Game Studio, and again in January 2013 to Kiro’o Games, after the phrase kiroho maonno, which means “spiritual vision” in Swahili.
According to Kiro’o, “Games can and should carry the seeds of universal wisdom that Africa can offer.” With their debut of Aurion: Legacy Of The Kori-Odan, the team hopes to entertain and inspire, and to create an “inner awakening” of sorts through games, as suggested by their logo.
“Here in Africa, it is sad to say, but the young don’t read,” says Madiba, “and with our too-fast urbanization and capitalistic transformations, they start to really miss out on positive role models and other inspirations.” But they do play video games, according to Madiba, and in a world full of “positive thinking” media that encourages children to reach fame and fortune at all costs, he hopes Kiro’o can be a source of inspiration that promotes the betterment of the self instead.
“Maybe you will never be successful and earn a million dollars, but you will progress, make friends, make enemies, win, lose, grow,” he says. “That’s maybe the real happiness. This is what we want to show through our games, and we think every young person in the world will like this message and feel inspired when he sees Enzo, Erine and all our characters feel fear, despair, but also hope, joy…”
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a 2D action-RPG that follows Prince Enzo Kori-Odan of Zama and his wife, Erine Evou, after their wedding is crashed and their authority overthrown by Enzo’s traitorous brother-in-law. Following the sudden coup, Ezo and Erine decide to seek out and learn an ancient warrior technique called Legacy and its Aurionic power before taking back the throne. The game takes place in the fictional world of Auriona, composed of six continents, which, given the game’s description, it sounds like the player will be able to explore on their quest.
The inspiration behind Aurionic energy is rooted in African mythology, explains Madiba. “In a lot of African myth, your ancestors have the ability to help you during your life. This is based on the fact that, before your birth, you choose your mission, and so you are born into a family that is compatible.”
In Aurion, Madiba hopes to explore the way this myth operates in the real world, today. “If your ancestors are always there to help you, where is your own strength?” Madiba asks. “And how can those with a small lineage be powerful and exhibit free will?”
Madiba draws a parallel here to the way wealthy and successful individuals in the business world are often born with these privileges, coming from rich, educated families or having strong connections. “It is exactly those kind of inequalities that you will want to overcome in the game,” he explains. “Enzo, Erine and all the other characters will ask themselves all these questions.”
Aurion will feature real-time combat and elements of classic beat-’em-ups, and something called Cognitive Battle Events, which is said to “surpass the classic QTE.” Side quests, item crafting, monster hunting and other traditional RPG elements will be included in addition to the primary storyline.
While the deeper philosophical, political and cultural roots are what make Aurion: Legacy Of The Kori-Odan an intriguing and promising pitch for an RPG, what stands out immediately about the game is its colorful and unique art style. Everything is completely hand-drawn, from the gorgeous, panoramic backgrounds to the intricately designed characters, with the work of Dean Dondrill, artist, animator and designer of Dust: An Elysian Tail, acting as a key source of inspiration.
The Kiro’o Project is currently ranked #2 out of over 800 other business ventures on VC4Africa, a community that helps connect entrepreneurs with potential investors and promote start-ups based in over thirty African countries. While Aurion: Legacy Of The Kori-Odan is receiving some support from there, Kiro’o has turned to crowdsourcing service Indiegogo to raise funds for their game and reach a wider audience in the process.
The game will be available on PC and Xbox Live Arcade, with a release date of June 2014 if the game is successfully funded.