The Battle System of Untold Story

It’s finally time to unveil the battle system for Untold Story!

The following is what the battle system will look like in the final game, but do expect a few small changes as we get more user-feedback during our testing.

Battle system basics

When designing the battle system for Untold Story I was wary of keeping it within the same style of NES RPGs, whilst also ensuring that it came across as modern, easy-to-understand and (perhaps most importantly) entertaining.

That’s how I came up with the battle system know as: Active Battle Points or ABP for short.

So how does it work?

The player controls four characters, and uses those characters to fight a maximum of four enemies. Each of the player’s characters has a circle around them, which charges over time. When a character’s circle reaches full, they gain one battle-point. Characters can gain a maximum of four battle-points after which they’ll stop gaining battle-points. When you do an action you’ll consume all of your current battle-points, at which stage you’ll start gaining battle-points again.

Four characters, four enemies, four battle-points.

So, how do you fight enemies? Each character is bound to a button (for the keyboard it’s Q,W,E,R), with each button controlling one of the characters. For example, want to get Adrasteia to attack? Then simply press the Q key. Want Blanc to attack? Press the E key. Pressing the button that corresponds to each character is the only action you can do in battle. But there are a few caveats.

Adrasteia using one battle-point to do an attack

Adrasteia using one battle-point to do an attack

Remember those battle-points I was talking about? Well, each character will do a different action based on how many battle-points they have. If Adrasteia only has one battle-point then she will do a basic attack. If she has four battle-points, then she will do an attack which will not only deal considerable damage, but also steal some of the enemy’s life.

Do you wait for your characters to get more battle-points so you can do more powerful attacks, or do you keep hammering away at your enemies with basic attacks which only cost one-battle point? The key to Untold Story’s battle system is patience and timing.

Blanc using three battle-points to do a more powerful attack.

Blanc using three battle-points to do a more powerful attack.

For example, if there is one enemy left but your allies are all on low health then do you wait until Sophia has two battle-points so that she can heal all of her allies, or just get her to attack (and hopefully kill) the last enemy with one battle-point?

Lots of tactical decisions involved!

There’s also one last mechanic. At a later point in the game, players will have access to summons. Each attack you do on an enemy will slowly build up the summon bar. Once the summon bar is fill, another character (in the image below its Bakchos) will jump into the fray and launch a devastating attack against all of the enemies.

Bakchos being summoned into battle!

Bakchos being summoned into battle!

Pretty cool, right?

Timing is key in Untold Story, getting everything to come together can lead to quick battles. You do need to be careful though, because if you slip up then you’re going to get knocked about a lot because the enemies hit very hard.

That’s it for today’s basic look at Untold Story’s battle system! We’re hoping to get a trailer for the battle system together soon which we hope will give you a clearer picture of how battles function in Untold Story!

For now, I hope you enjoy the above GIFs!

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A quick look at the 8-bit pixel art of Untold Story

Untold Story’s 8-bit graphics is one of the game’s more defining features, and is something that deserves to be talked about in a more technical capacity than today’s blog post. For today I just wanted to take a quick look at some of the thoughts, ideas and inspirations that went into Untold Story’s 8-bit art style.

Technically not technical

There are a few indie games that have adopted the 8-bit style (big shout out to Shovel Knight), and have really tried to create the feel of the style from a both an aesthetic and technical perspective.

Untold Story does things a bit differently in this regard. Instead of trying to reproduce the technical side of 8bit graphics and NES game development, Untold Story uses modern technology to recreate the art-style without the NES technical limitations.


Because a lot of NES RPGs, whilst revolutionary and wonderful, were still very much constrained by the technology of the NES which lead to a less than ideal gameplay experience for the player. For example, menus were rendered in certain, complicated, ways and the game’s UI (user-interface) was lackluster. Also there’s a reason why the original Final Fantasy’s battle system is slow, and that’s due to NES technology. That and the lack of evolution in the genre at the time of the game’s creation.

Game design has come a LONG way since the 1980s, as well as technology, and I feel that it’s important that games that are made during this time make use of the advances to create a more enjoyable experience for the player, even if they’re “retro”-style games.

With this in mind Untold Story attempts to replicate the beauty of 8bit, without being bogged down by old technology. In fact, I’ve gone to great lengths to try to insure that I keep the style of Untold Story as authentic as possible whilst keeping the game playable and user friendly.

Different sprites for different types

The original NES Final Fantasy games used two different types of characters, one for exploring the map, and another large sprite which was used during battle. This meant that each character had two sets of animations (which lead to a lot more extra work!); however it was a great way of getting around NES’s technical limitations and giving the player a clearer view during battles.


Sophia when she's on the map.

Sophia when she’s on the map.

Sophia casting a spell in battle

Larger Sophia sprite when she’s in battle.

We decided to replicate that in Untold Story, producing two sets of sprites for each of the characters, creating a more “retro” feel in the game.

The original Final Fantasy could only use a select amount of tiles sprites to populate areas. Untold Story does the same, only using a limited amount tiles to populate the space. This recreates the slightly lonely feeling of the original RPGs, and makes the game feel “retro”. In order to make sure Untold Story doesn’t feel too empty though, given that the game uses maps in a different way to the original Final Fantasy, Untold Story does use a few more tiles than the original Final Fantasy to ensure that the game’s world doesn’t feel too limited or empty.

Because we're not trying to recreate NES technology, we can use a few more tiles.

Because we’re not trying to recreate NES technology, we can use a few more tiles.

Not being linked to the technology of the NES, also allows us to do things such as in-depth tutorials, as well as making the UI way more user-friendly. I mean let’s face it; the old NES-games weren’t that user-friendly with players being required to read a manual in order to have even the simplest idea of what to do in a game.

Even though the UI has been changed and worked on considerably to make it user-friendly, we’ve insured that it still has a simplistic look and remains true to the 8-bit, NES era.

There’s a lot more to Untold Story’s art style and use of 8bit art than this, such as how 8bit art is used in the battle system as well as the towns, however I thought it would be better to cover these in individual blog posts.

For now I just wanted to provide a brief summary and overview of how Untold Story is using 8-bit graphics to create an experience that feels similar, and yet different, making it appear more modern yet respectful to the NES art style.

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next week with some more Untold Story news (and, hopefully a new trailer) as well as a new dev-log on Thursday! In the meantime, be sure to follow us on twitter!

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Exploring the story and characters of Untold Story (no spoilers!)

The story is one of the most important parts of Untold Story. Whilst the game is only a few hours long, its story aims to be epic and stay with you long after you’ve finished playing. As I explained in my previous blog post (click here to read), the way the story is told is closer to that of storytelling in Playstation-era RPGs, than it is of NES RPGs. This means that there is more of a focus on character-based storytelling, instead of telling a story through the world and its inhabitants like in most NES RPGs.

General overview of the story

In Untold Story you play as Adrasteia, a Knight of Abila, during an attack on the Kingdom of Decelea. I can’t quite go into the reasons why, you’ll have to play Untold Story for that, but it’s for a just-cause… maybe.

There are two Abila armies invading Decelea. The first is lead by Lord Kyriakos, with the second being lead by Adrasteia. Unfortunately when Adrasteia arrives she discovers that Lord Kyriakos is in need of assistance, so she sends her army to go and aid him. Lord Kyriakos’ army, whilst merely a distraction, needs to survive long enough for Adrasteia to complete her main mission.

For you see, Adrasteia has been tasked with making her way to Decelea’s laboratory and then destroying the contents of whatever is inside. The purpose of the attack is to get to the laboratory, if Adrasteia can’t do that then the invasion (and subsequent consequences of it) will have been all for naut.

The majority of the game takes place during the invasion of Decelea, with Adrasteia exploring large portions of the town (including the poverty-stricken part). She also meets some interesting characters along the way.

Whilst the player’s battle-party will only consist of four party members (Adrasteia, Blanc, Marcus and Sophia), as you progress through Untold Story you’ll get access to a few more characters who will join you in battle and during your adventure.

For now, let’s look at the main party of characters and some of the more interesting non-player characters:


Adrasteia in battle

Adrasteia in battle

Adrasteia is a battle-hardened warrior. Having been trained by the previous King of Abila (King Erbos), and participated in many battle, she knows her way around a sword.

Adrasteia is strong, proud and yet extremely kind hearted. She is the definition of the word “Knight”. Despite her attempts to remain somewhat impartial to Albia’s upper-class, she has some interesting relationships with certain characters…

Blanc and Marcus

Blanc in battle

Blanc in battle

Marcus in battle

Marcus in battle

Blanc is one of Adrasteia’s most loyal warriors, having fought alongside her for a long time. He is kind, and sees the good in everyone. Marcus on the other hand is brash and constantly demands action. Whilst he fights with honour (honour is a reoccurring theme in Untold Story), his active nature and longing for a good fight can sometimes make him come across as a bit of brute.

Blanc fights with a bow and arrow, whilst Marcus fights with daggers.


Sophia casting a spell in battle

Sophia casting a spell in battle

Sophia, a young magic-user who specialises in healing magic, is a bit of a mystery. She’s quiet, loyal and is Adrasteia’s personal mage, following her wherever she may go. She never questions her orders, and is someone who just wants to “get the job done”.

Her weapon of choice is the staff, and whilst she specialises in healing your party, she can also do quite a bit of damage.

Other characters

King Basileus

The current King of Abila. Whilst his father was proud and powerful, partaking in many battles and leading his nation to victory, Basileus is not. He is weak, not just physically but also mentally, and lacks confidence. Whilst he is a good King at heart, he’s easy to control and manipulate, which hurts not just the one’s he loves but also the Kingdom of Abila.

Bakchos and Elpida

These two are some of my favourite characters in Untold Story.

Bakchos is a pirate who roams the sky with Elpida at his side. Bakchos and Elpida have frequently bumped into Adrasteia, and the characters appear to have some sort of rivalry going on. Bakchos is smart, sly and level headed, whilst Elpida is quiet, sharp-thinking and loyal. You’ve never meet a better pair of lovers… if that’s what they are.

Leo on the field!

Leo on the field!

There are more characters in Untold Story, such as the young scout Leo, however that’s it for the time being.

Before I go, I’ll just leave you with this little nugget of information:

Untold Story exists within a vast world with much history. Abila and Decelea are merely two, very small, Kingdoms in this huge world and the impact of Abila’s invasion of Decelea will be felt for many years to come.

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05/02 – No new dev-log today! (Sorry!)

Unfortunately there will not be a new dev-log today as originally promised.

We did intend to show off Untold Story’s battle system today however our plans had be scrapped due to game bugs and emergency fixes that have stopped us from getting the battle system to a state where we feel confident showing it off.

The battle system is really close to being presentable though (I promise!) and as much as we really wanted to show it off, we thought it would be best to hold back and wait until it’s perfect.

I know, I know, I promised a dev-log every Thursday and on the first Thursday I failed to deliver, so to make up for it we’ll be posting a dev-log this coming Tuesday, as well as a dev-log on Thursday!

We’re aiming to have a press-preview build next week, and we’re on track to do so (apart from the battle system bugs/last minute changes…) so we’ll have plenty to show off for the next few dev-logs!

Thanks for your patience everyone! We can’t wait to show you more of Untold Story!




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Candlelight Studios: Press kits are now live!

Hello everyone!

I’d like to quickly announce that Candlelight Studios’ press kits are now live for both Candlelight Studios and Untold Story.

Press Kits, for the uninitiated, are kits designed for the press! They have information about the company and the games they are working on. The idea is that these press kits allow anyone who wishes to write, or produce content, about Candlelight Studios can have easy access to facts, screenshots and more!

The press kits will be updated regularly as new information from Candlelight Studios is released

Talking about new information, there will be new dev log for Untold Story tomorrow, so be sure to check it out!

Joshua Temblett

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