Have you had a chance to play Kilka Card Gods yet? The latest game from our studio, Bamtang Games, was released on June 10th for PS Vita — the first ever self-published launch by a Latin American game development studio on the PlayStation platform. Needless to say, we’re all excited here! Kilka Card Gods is the result of several years of development efforts, and we’re extremely happy that one of our games is paving the way for more games developed in Peru and Latin America to be released for PlayStation.
We’re especially proud about Kilka Card Gods because the game has been an opportunity for us to portray many elements from Peruvian culture. There are few games that have included Peru as part of their narrative, and in most cases, developers haven’t paid much attention to the way Peru and its culture were presented in their games.
With Kilka, we set out to change that and show that things could be done differently — that the richness of Peruvian culture could be accurately and elegantly captured in a way that borrows from tradition while at the same time crafting new stories and characters that players could fall in love with.
This was this spirit that drove us in the design of Kilka. We wanted to present traditional Peruvian culture as having a direct conversation with the other major civilizations. Machu Picchu is among the new Seven Wonders of the World. We researched the background on each of the Seven Wonders, to make sure we were accurately portraying each culture. These locations became the basis for the seven card gods the player faces when playing Kilka. As Oscar Choquecota, the game’s Art Director, puts it: “We had to learn a little from every location, learning the history behind every wonder, and looking for cultural references to help us provide a personality for each of the locations.”
The more research we did, the more the visual style for the game came together, and this in turn led to us framing the mechanics and the narrative. “We ruled out immediately a casino look because that wasn’t what we wanted to convey. By implementing the concept of the card gods, we felt we should convey a stronger sense of adventure,” Oscar explains. The game of Kilka isn’t so much a game of cards and chance like Blackjack or Poker, but rather a puzzle game whose origin we set in the Andean world — hence the name, “kilka”, the Quechua word for visual arts and crafts.
In the game world, Kilka is presented as a global sensation, with the protagonist, Yupanki, winning the Kilka world championship in Paris shortly after beginning the game. Kilka Card Gods then became two games: the game of Kilka, where the player solves a series of card-based puzzles that grow increasingly harder; and the metagame, where the player assists Yupanki in defeating the seven card gods, and reclaiming his place as Kilka world champion.
Yupanki himself became a key piece of this narrative — a uniquely Peruvian protagonist created out of a series of traditional elements. Oscar remembers that, early on, “we needed a ‘host’ character who would give the game a friendly face, who would progress along with the player and provide in-game tips. Yupanki, because of his face and clothing, remains unmistakably Peruvian, but we wanted him to still feel relatively ‘exotic’ and with his own personality. Yupanki is now part of the small but growing collection of Bamtang characters, and we’d love to see him again in some future project, maybe building on his skills as a world class thinker.”
This was our way of sending an important message: not only that Peruvian culture was a “big player” among the major civilizations in world history, but also that a game originating in Peru could become a global phenomenon drawing worldwide attention. Kilka, the game within the game, is our way of saying that there’s much to be shared and appreciated in the culture of our country that people around the world can find interesting, engaging, and valuable; Kilka Card Gods is our way of putting that idea into action.
We hope you’ll enjoy playing Kilka Card Gods as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. As you can see, we’re especially proud of being able to present the visual styles, stories, and locations that we’re so familiar with to players who might be experiencing them for the first time. And we’re hoping the characters we’ve created based on these traditional cultures get the opportunity to live beyond this game — that we may still see Yupanki and the card gods in future games or other forms of media.
Kilka Card Gods is an important milestone for Bamtang Games and for video game developers in Peru, and you can expect to see more from us across PlayStation devices in the near future!