Relayer is an upcoming Strategy RPG releasing on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, from the creators of the successful Strategy RPG God Wars. We had the honor and opportunity to interview Yoshimi Yasuda, Producer, Director, and Creator of Relayer.
The interview was translated from Japanese to English by Kadokawa Games.
GamersPack: To start things off, how would you explain what Relayer is about to someone new?
Yoshimi Yasuda: Relayer is a high-end strategy JRPG with a mecha and space motif depicting a space adventure created by those who succeed the will of the stars.
I’ve loved this genre for 30 years since the very first turn-based strategy JRPG was released in the late 1980s, but I wanted to create Relayer by fully utilizing the features of high-end spec game machines like PlayStation 5 to achieve a higher performance level with the intention to create a brand-new appeal for strategy JRPGs.
GP: How did the idea of Relayer come together?
YY: For the past five years, I’ve been focused on creating the original story for Relayer, and sometimes fell into some slumps along the way. But the fact was, I realized that I was beginning to hate myself for just persisting on [the idea of] “life in space” itself.
So, by changing the perspective to a “shield for protecting life” instead, I got into a sort of a grove and was able to create the original story to my satisfaction. How was the extraterrestrial, Relayer born? How is it different from humankind? I was convinced of the theme originating from these questions, and consequently, I was finally able to finish writing this story called “Relayer” for this game.
GP: Players have grown to expect simulation-RPGs to have many battle scenarios, but also sometimes unique activities outside of combat. What kind of activities can we expect in Relayer?
YY: Acquiring unique skills for characters and customizing mechas are very unique activities, other than the combat ones.
For example, some playable Starchild characters can acquire warp skills, which enables players to teleport to any grid on the map and reverse the battle situation in an instance by using this unique skill.
In addition, by acquiring a certain legendary weapon, customizing mechas will indeed dramatically change the battle scene to the player’s advantage so we ask all players to please look forward to these unique activities and features.
GP: In the Relayer reveal trailer, we have seen battles in outer space and inside the atmosphere of a planet. What kinds of locations and hazards can we expect to see in the game?
YY: In the space world of Relayer, not only do existing planets and satellites such as Earth, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Europa appear, but also other orbital rings, debris zones, ancient ruins, giant satellites, planets with water, lava planets, and more. These all include many stages to light up the story with excitement.
Please enjoy the game to see what kind of episodes will occur in these locations.
GP: In your interview with another publication, Twinfinite, you have mentioned designing the characters in ways that would appeal to western fans. What sort of challenges comes in designing characters and stories that would appeal to a global audience?
YY: Four years ago, I created a strategy JRPG called GOD WARS, and the theme of the game was Japanese mythology. Japanese mythology is an area of Japanese culture which is unfamiliar and unique to foreigners, and unlike monotheism in which people may sometimes choose to fight to protect their religious freedom, Japanese mythology is about how to reconcile people with different values to achieve pure harmony. I explored using this unique Japanese concept as the theme of a game, but my doubts went away as the game resulted in receiving high acclaim worldwide.
From this experience with GOD WARS, I believe that expressing Japanese culture in the game’s character designs, background designs, and the entire story in full detail fascinates many players worldwide that enjoy Japanese games.
GP: I understand that Relayer will feature a story mode. Will players be able to choose what happens in the story and which factions to work together with?
YY: The scenario does not change according to the player’s choice in the story mode. Instead, we have prepared an endgame content called “The Asterism Voyage” which is playable after completing the main story and is almost the same size as the main story.
In “The Asterism Voyage,” the crew gathers in the starship, Asterism, and a new and expanded adventure story begins in space. We wanted players to enjoy more episodes that allow them to indulge in the world of Relayer. for example, the fate of Luna and Terra in the story, is actually relevant to an episode later on, when the fifth planet of the solar system disappears.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the stage composition in Relayer. The main story consists of 43 episodes and 42 battle stages, and a battle simulator that consists of 45 exercise stages.
In addition, “The Asterism Voyage” is a further enhanced story for players who want to play MORE of Relayer after clearing the main story and consists of 35 additional episodes and battle stages.
GP: From the trailers, we see that the game will feature many high-quality animations during battles. Can we expect to see many different cinematics like these in the game?
YY: Four types of mecha appear in Relayer: The vanguard type Assaulter, specializing in melee attacks; another vanguard type, Tanker, specializing in defending with shields; the middle-guard type, Sniper, specializing in long-range attacks with sniper rifles; and the rear-guard type Scouter, specializing in buffs, debuffs and recovery of units.
The enemy forces also consist of these 4 mecha types and players can enjoy 3 variants of battle scenes per mecha type.
In addition, if players perform pincer attacks on an enemy using Assaulters or Tankers, a coordinated attack called “Backstab” will initiate during the attack. In addition, an attack on the enemy by Snipers or Scouters can turn into a single death blow called “Overkill.”. Players can also enjoy the unique battle animations for these special attacks.
Moreover, your StarChild can deliver devastating damage to your enemies by consuming the “Big Bang Gauge”.
There is a unique battle scene for this special move called “Big Bang,” and also a unique one for the attack from the enemy boss, so please enjoy the game and check these out.
Players can adjust the playing speed of the battle scenes in three levels: constant/normal, high, and super-high speed.
Players can also remove these sequences and switch to a simple battle mode on the map. Furthermore, we have an option called “Autoplay” for those who are too busy to play but want to proceed with the game anyway. We want players to enjoy the mecha battles in the best way possible!
GP: There seem to be many cool characters in Relayer. What kind of interactions can we expect to see between the characters in and out of the story?
YY: A total of 40 characters, from PCs and NPCs, appear in Relayer.
The story mainly revolves around the Asterism crew, who deepen the bond with their friends at the mercy of a tragedy, uncontrollable justice, and revenge. Eventually, they devote their lives to fighting off their fate to protect the Earth.
However, we also want players to keep close attention to a few specific characters. The Secretary of the Earth Government Allied Forces, Greyson, has a strong distaste for the Starchild. The top leaders of the world’s three largest military corporations all crave the Starchild’s supergravity technology at any cost. The unidentified, mysterious character Observer is neither an enemy nor an ally – a big enigma in the game.
Even in Relayer, as the story progresses, conflicting friends can regain ties and build relationships of trust through various events.
These bonds also have an impact on the game.
Characters who are allies, or have deep, close relationships will likely produce unique coordinated attacks and additional effects,
so I would like the players to pay close attention to the relationships between the characters while playing the game.
GP: Relayer is expected to release for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. What difference should players expect from the PlayStation 5 version?
YY: There’s the haptic feedback, which is a PS5 unique function. But we are developing the PS4 version to have very little difference from the PS5 one.
We also want PS4 players to take advantage of a free upgrade to the PS5 version. Please look forward to this upgrade as well.
GP: What do you think players will be most excited about in the game?
YY: I believe that the fun of the genre called strategy JRPG lies in the replayability and completionist elements of the game, where players discover various strategies for beating it.
In Relayer, it will no doubt be possible for players to raise character levels, customize weapons, and win battles while utilizing recovery items. But they can also enjoy fun and exciting strategies for defeating enemies by devising special tactical moves and attacks from mechas and making full use of the character’s unique skills.
As you can see, there are various strategies in Relayer so I would like you, the player, to find the best strategy that best fits you and your preference! I believe that the feeling of accomplishment from clearing the game with a strategy created by the player is the most exciting element in the game.
GP: Thank you very much, Mr. Yasuda.
Relayer will be releasing on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on February 17th, 2022.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.