May 12, 2022

Cantata from Afterschool Studio and Modern Wolf enters Steam Early Access today for a unique turn-based experience

From Press Release:

Cantata is out today in Early Access on Steam at 16:00 BST and Early Access keys are available, now.

Cantata is a character-driven tactical strategy game that puts you in the middle of a spiritual, pragmatic war for survival.

It is also a storytelling platform in which deep modding tools allow players to create their own sprites, scenario and rulesets. In short: Cantata will be the easiest platform to create new and interesting strategy games.


How does it play and what are the major features?

Think Advance Wars meeting Factorio. Gameplay interations resemble Advance Wars, Sim City, Civilization.

  • Day 1 open development modding availability to create your own story:
    Each level played through in Cantata is made with the game’s level editor, which will be accessible for any player to use from day one. The open development allows you to go far beyond simple level tweaking, with the options to import your own sprites, rulesets, and scenarios all available to players. Utilizing these modding tools, players are able to use Cantata as a storytelling platform to forge their own narrative experience, and totally rebuild worlds in their desired image.
  • A strategy game with a big focus on storytelling and characters:
    Unlike a standard strategy game where the main objective can be diluted down into simply getting from point A-to-B while defeating your opponent, Cantata offers a much more robust experience for the player. Each commander you must defeat has their own unique design, with beautiful accompanying artwork. They also each have their own unique narrative for players to delve into as they work their way across the level map.
  • Larger than average level maps, encouraging player exploration:
    The Cantata level maps are much larger than those typical to the genre, championing the idea that the map is not simply a puzzle that the player has to “solve”, but instead is a place of exploration waiting to be discovered by players. While there is always a clear objective on what needs to be done to “finish” the level, there are a lot of other things to do and discover on the map that aren’t on the critical path to victory.
  • Nine Commanding Officers across three factions, with faction-specific units and building
  • Deep, tactically rich systems that are easy to learn but can take time to master

A unique look

Cantata graphic style is a pastel kaleidoscopic Sci-fi à la Kilian Eng. You can find more references on Figma.

Inspirations are spread amongst different media. As for games Advance Wars, Alpha Centauri and Factorio are clear references.

Movies that inspired the developer are the likes of Annihilation (2018, directed by Alex Garland), Jupiter Ascending (2015, directed by the Wachoswki sisters) and the seminal Stalker (1982, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky).

As for books Annihilation / Area X Trilogy – Jeff VanDerMeer, Ancillary Justice – Anne Lecke, The Dispossessed – Ursula Le Guin, Dune – Frank Herbert.

Finally web brutalism has also been an inspiration together with the stock market interfaces and the soundtrack of Caves of Qud.