There’s still so much we don’t know about the next stealth strategy game from the makers of Desperados 3 and Shadow Tactics: Blades Of The Shogun. Until yesterday, all we had was a codename (“Süßkartoffel”, or Sweet Potato), and a few other scant business facts developer Mimimi Games posted about on their blog last year. In fact, the only concrete thing we really know about it right now is that it’s not going to be Shadow Tactics 2.
However, in chatting to Mimimi this week about leaving real-time tactics behind in favour of their new "Stealth Strategy" label, I’ve managed to glean a few more details. Alas, Mimimi still aren’t ready to reveal Süßkartoffel’s official name just yet, but head of design Moritz Wagner told me it’s not only going to be much more beginner-friendly than their previous games, but that it will also be much more like one big sandbox this time, resisting the urge to limit players by strict level constraints. To me, it all sounded a bit like they were aiming for something akin to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, so I asked him about whether that was an accurate assessment of it. “Yes and no,” he said.
“I think on a high level what Metal Gear Solid V did was that it took the Metal-Gear-like stealth formula and embedded it into a much more open structure,” Moritz explained to me further over email.
“On a lower level, that meant changing level situations, skills and weapons in a way that made that work. On that high level, we are doing a similar thing for our formula. We take what made our games great and fun and build a new, more open and sandboxy structure around it. But what that means on the lower level might be different for our games. An example here would be the free character-selection for any mission. For the other things we changed here, we are not ready to spoil that surprise yet.”
Speaking further about its cast of characters, Moritz added you’ll be able “freely select any character you want before each mission and combine them with each other to fit your playstyle or the solution you have in mind,” the hope being that players “don’t feel as constrained as in our older games” and having to work toward specific solutions.
Indeed, despite Shadow Tactics and Desperados 3 already being miniature kinds of stealth sandboxes in many regards, Mimimi found this often didn’t come across when people actually started playing.
“One problem we have noticed with our games is that players often think there is only that one solution for each enemy-setup you encounter. But that is never true,” says Moritz. “In any of our games, there were so many solutions to any problem. […] Still, the fact that punishment was something instant and harash caused the games to come off as sort of ‘narrow’ for some people. With Codename Süßkartoffel being so much more sandboxy in many regards, I think that this feeling hopefully will come up less.”
Moritz and his team have also been careful to add more difficulty options this time round, too. “In our previous games we were afraid, that if you lower the difficulty too much for that, the game might lose what makes it fun. During the development of Codename Süßkartoffel and with some aspects of the game changing, we realized: That isn't true. For someone who doesn't want that heavy stealth strategy-challenge, it is still possible to make the game easier than we previously did and they will still enjoy themselves. And for the people that want to have that really tough-as-nails experience, that of course is also still possible and part of the game. As well as many shades of that in-between.”
So yes, there's still a lot we don't know about Codename Süßkartoffel, but I'm excited by the prospect of a more open-ended stealth strategy sandbox from Mimimi, and the ability to pick whatever characters we want to take into it. Of course, there's a risk of always falling back on what's comfortable in this kind of situation, rather than being pushed to find new and interesting synergies between different cast mates, but hey, with Mimimi's excellent track record in this arena, I'm not that worried. Here's hoping we find out more about Süßkartoffel sooner rather than later.