Paladin Dream – A Review and Interview

Paladin Dream is a turn based RPG in the style of all the old favorite classics. You play as a Paladin going on a journey to find out the meaning of a dream he has been having repeatedly over the years. He leaves the abbey where he has spent his entire life and heads out to find the reason for his dream.

The game was made with RPG Maker, which I know, can leave you questioning how good it really is. But Paladin Dream is a pleasant surprise. With about five hours of gameplay and original music composed by the creator, Paladin Dream stands out where many RPG Maker games may leave you wonderful what the heck you just spent money on.

With an original soundtrack composed by creator Matthew Myers, the music alone is enough to make one want to continue the game. 

So is Paladin Dream worth playing? If you enjoy a classic turn based RPG feel with a nice story? Sure is! I would suggest you pick it up sooner rather than later.

I was lucky enough to be able to get some questions answer by the creator of Paladin Dream. Here is the Q&A I had with Matthew via email!

Tawny: How did you come up with the concept for Paladin Dreams?

Matthew: Creatively, Paladin Dream(singular, not plural) was inspired by a short story in high school during a King Arthur unit in English class. There are some significant changes and expansions from that story, but the concept of the dream duel to motivate the heroic quest is much alike. The main character, Josiah, is loosely inspired by personality traits of Christian athletes I was around at a job I had living in Texas. The areas he explores are influenced by my experiences traveling in Italy, which included cathedrals, castles, walled cities, mountains, fields, farming villages, and religious art.

When the COVID quarantine era around March 2020 started, I realized I wouldn’t be going anywhere for awhile, and took the opportunity to try something I wanted to do for years, which was to make an RPG. I also had family members who were sick at the time (they recovered, fortunately) so it was a stressful time when I was looking for an imaginary escape. The rest was learning, planning, and asking for help.

Tawny: What did you use to make it

Matthew : I used RPGmaker as an engine to develop the game. RPGmaker is a great tool for (surprise) building RPGs, where you can easily create exploration and combat systems without having to do any programming. It allowed me to immediately focus on what I was excited about, which was telling the story and building the world around it.

For me RPGmaker is a wonderful storytelling platform, even when the subject matter isn’t necessarily a medieval fantasy like Paladin Dream. Before this project, I was inspired by Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, which is essentially an RPGmaker-made documentary game about a real-world American tragedy. I appreciated the way that game handled mature themes while being truthful, and felt that if someone can turn a school shooting into an emotionally powerful RPG then anything is possible.

Tawny: How much of this game did you make yourself?

  Matthew: I conceived the story and wrote close to 8000 words of dialog, designed more than 100 maps, devised the combat logic featuring over 50 enemies, and composed all the music myself. Before Paladin Dream, I served as a music composer and producer professionally for numerous games spanning a 15-year career. I also did all the bug fixing and other thankless tasks. I can’t take any credit for building the engine, the many modification plugins I used, or the art assets (whether licensed or commissioned), or the sound fx. I also (obviously) didn’t sing the female vocals in those songs.

With the RPG genre, it seems inevitable that people will compare it to something enormous like The Elder Scrolls, and there’s no way one person in their spare time can do the work of a huge team with millions of dollars. For me telling a short but polished story was more important than churning out hours and hours of quests both as a developer and in terms of what I’d want to play. To that end I was inspired by Dragon Quest 4 in particular, which features a few small adventures that feel like they could be their own small game.

Tawny: Being a turn based RPG, it’s easy to guess you may be a fan of that genre what’s your favorite video game?

Matthew: I’ll answer this question with a shout-out to an obscure title I grew up fascinated by, which is Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders Of Khazan. Imagine something like the original Final Fantasy on NES, but with more of an open world and more effort placed on the writing. The encounters featured prosaic passages of text like a visual novel, and the combat system was wonderfully deep. The graphics were generally primitive, but the incredible lore and logic breathed life into the world. Sometimes the best graphics are the ones you imagine in your mind, right?

Tawny: Were there any particular influences when you deigned Paladin Dream?

Matthew: I lived in Boston when Bioshock became popular, so Irrational Games creative force Ken Levine was a big influence on my game design philosophy. Comparable to Bioshock, Paladin Dream has no cut scenes to passively watch, everything that happens in the story is a playable event. Also similar is that the player explores a relatively small region of a world rather than a full globe. My favorite Levine quote which I’ve taken to heart is “If you want people to follow your plot, then it has to be really f***ing stupid.” If you watch Indiana Jones and pause the film at any moment, Jones is looking for the ark. Similarly, if you ask what Josiah is doing at any moment in Paladin Dream, he’s looking for the meaning of his dream. 

Tawny: Do you intend to make anymore games?

Matthew: I am still under publisher contract to provide support and updates for Paladin Dream for a number of months, so I’m trying to keep focused for that reason. I have several other game ideas that would be cool, so we’ll see what happens in 2022. 🙂

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