Coming early next year is Mahokenshi, a deckbuilding game set in a fantasy world inspired by Japanese myth. In Mahokenshi, you play as four unique heroes as you navigate a map and complete quests all while slowly building a deck full of attacks, items, and movement options. Now, we have partnered with the publisher, Iceberg Interactive, to reveal the ninja assassin Sota.
Like all playable characters in Mahokenshi, Sota is a human imbued with the divine power of the Kami. His path to getting such power wasn't exactly straightforward. After being orphaned by some unknown tragedy, he was adopted and raised by an organization that worshipped Ogumo, the spider Kami. It is through this organization that Sota learned how to travel while unseen, create illusions of himself, and use deadly poison. He also learned how to face his foes indirectly through confusion and guile, as well as noble traits like loyalty and duty. Since then, he has become the hero of the powerful but inscrutable House of Jade.
In short, Sota represents the fantasy of being a ninja. He is a silent warrior that can infiltrate secure locations and eliminate targets, and escape without leaving a trace. His keys to success are planning, improvisation, and creativity. Whether it is taking out a target or plotting an escape, Sota has more than one way to do it. Mahokenshi's lead designer, Jérôme Bodin explains:
The concept of Sota was to create a weaker character but with strong abilities such as Stealth or Lure summoning. We then tried to deepen this design, by giving his cards a sense of versatility. The goal was to push players to have a more tactical approach to the game and this by also taking into account the character's surroundings, not only his cards. In that way, they could adopt the right strategy in the right environment.
That weaker but smarter approach is felt in Sota's playstyle. His offense relies on small cuts and negative effects that add up. Distracting your target with illusory lures by itself is annoying, but distracting them while poison slowly kills them is effective. As for defense, he relies more on the environment around him than traditional armor. In fact, because of his connection to the spider Kami, he can get both offensive, and defensive bonuses from forests from his cards.
That very versatility can be felt as you progress in story missions. You can invest in more deadly poison. You can lean more into stealth and mobility. You can even dip into death by a thousand cuts with low-cost kunai cards. The latter particularly stands out since Bodin cites The Silent from Slay The Spire as an inspiration, as they are identical to Shivs.
Finally, a ninja is only as useful as his equipment, and Sota does have some useful tools. Every time you win a mission or fail in Mahokenshi, your character gains experience Whenever a character levels up, you'll unlock equipment. These can be swapped out at the start of each mission and can provide a powerful boost for a single turn. Each character in the game has four pieces of equipment that slowly unlock as you play, and are available as options to all the characters.
Sota's equipment stands out since they have minor effects. These include things like getting to draw an extra card or getting a kunai card. The tradeoff is that their cooldowns are short; with as little as a two-turn cooldown.
We tried to give the player a constant sense of novelty while rewarding them even if they failed while trying something new. Unlocking new content while playing different Mahokenshi is one of the ways we do that. A cunning player will unlock content in almost every mission they play until the end of the game. While we have an approximate idea of the order in which content should be unlocked, it's up to the player, as it depends on what Mahokenshi they decide to play.
Overall, Sota is an interesting character in both design and style. He helps bring a more tactically minded approach to both attack and defense in Mahokenshi while embodying the fantasy of a capable ninja assassin.