The world of gaming is ever changing, rapidly progressing and conjuring new and fascinating concepts to the thrill of gamers worldwide. It is no longer simply single dimensional characters attempting to save a princess from a monster. Now, the worlds in which gaming immerses are just as diverse, equal and inspiring as our own. Coming up with someone new in the world of gaming can be a challenge, as at times when you look at the endless options, you cant help but wonder if everything has been attempted at least once.
Enter the new action graphic novel story of Shuyan, and you will have found the original and diverse concept you have been seeking.
Available on Steam, Shuyan Saga is an immersive Kung Fu story set in an ancient Chinese world. But while that may have been a theme previously seen, what hasn’t is the act that this is not simply a game. It is an action graphic novel where readers can follow along in the story, but take over control of the combat scenes with 3D graphic and dialogue choice gameplay. Unlike any other, the worlds of gaming and comics have collided with stunning artistry of 1400 hand drawn illustrations from Asian comic master Daxiong (DC, Dark Horse). The story is an original, filled with ancient Chinese lore, and featuring over 300 combat animations referenced from Master Shifu Longfei Yang.
If that isn’t enough to catch your interest, the heroine will. No longer is the primary character designated as a male lead, something normally dominated in gaming and other genres for years. Shuyan Saga brings a carefree and privileged princess, Shuyan, away from her constricted and pampered life to master her discipline of Kung Fu and stop the evil Guer horde from destroying the five kingdoms.
Now, Shuyan may not be the first strong female lead in gaming, but we are willing to bet she is captivating enough to bring in a whole new audience of users. The merger of gaming and graphic novels, the diverse character and gender rule breaking lead all culminate to offer something never seen before.
The game was released August 8th, at $19.99, and so far fans are going crazy for the saga!
Shuyan is voiced by fandom favorite Kristin Kreuk, known for her roles in Smallville and Beauty and the Beast. Moving from acting to voice roles is a challenge to any artist, but Kreuk’s versatility and skill allowed her to breathe life into the character, and bring the world to life.
During the 2017 Fanexpo Convention in Toronto, Fangirlish was fortunate enough to sit down with Kristin to discuss her work, the saga, and what fans can expect! The actress is nothing short of remarkable, her warmth and welcoming nature putting all those in her presence at ease within moments. It is as though you are speaking with a long time girlfriend, and her genuine love for her craft is obvious in her passion and dedication to each role.
Here is what she had to say about Shuyan, discipline and her future goals!
Q: The tagline for [Shuyan Saga] is ‘gaming and comics had a baby and it stars Kristin Kreuk’. What does that mean?
KK: I’m not a big gamer myself, so I don’t know what the landscape is. This game is really beautiful in that you follow a narrative, with gorgeous graphics. And then there is a score that is stunning also. So you follow this graphic novel element but there is also combat, because it is a Kung Fu story and it is about defending your kingdom, you end up in these combat situations which you can level easy, medium hard, and then you can fight within that context. It’s the marrying of those two things where you have a bit of a choose your own adventure story, along with fighting.
Q: This is something so different. What drew you to this role?
KK: There were a few reasons. First, the art they showed me was beautiful. I like the team, they are Toronto based, they are Canadian, it is a smaller company right now, and I like that. I get to be a part of something that is made at home. And the character herself was someone who I thought was aspirational and inspiring versus cynical. I like some cynical stuff but especially with games because you are engaging and putting yourself into it I wanted people to be able to play something that was aspirational and hopeful.
Q: What did you admire about Shuyan and feel her character can convey to audiences?
KK: She is a girl who has been given everything in her life. She is a princess. She has a lot of good qualities; she is strong willed and she’s smart and she’s passionate and excited about Kung Fu. She is a nice person. But it is through this process of her kingdom being threatened that she has to really grow herself up and she uses traditional Kung Fu in order to do that. She has to go deep in order to find her strength. And I think that is true for all of us that in order to find our strength or our potential we must go deeply internal and confront those parts of ourselves that are temperamental or ugly or whatever those things are and transform them into something that is more rich and potent.
Q: Why do you feel that diverse characters such as Shuyan are important in gameplay specifically in todays age?
KK: Again, I don’t know the landscape fully, but if it is anything like film and television, which I’m sure it is, if not even more Caucasian male driven, I think that having females, and having females that aren’t white is very, very important. I am half Chinese. I grew up with very few people who are half Chinese. I never really felt it fully, but as I’ve gotten older I think I’ve begun to see more and more the limitations of representation as it is currently. And a game like this appeals to women, and it appeals to non-white women, and it can bring us closer together. And this game is interesting because I think it delves into traditional Chinese values and culture so it also broadens our understanding of the world while you’re playing it if you didn’t have it before. You can develop a deeper understanding because we are don’t always research deeply; we rarely do in our social media age, and a game like this allows you, without you realizing it, to kind of research a little more deeply.
Q: As you mentioned, Shuyan is really in to Kung Fu. Have you ever thought of taking up any kind of discipline like that?
KK: My parents put me in every class known to man, but I did karate for a long time so that is something that I practiced. It is a different discipline obviously but I certainly did that for ages. It was a part of my childhood experience until I was in tenth grade. You learn a lot of discipline and you learn respect. And it is about honoring your elders also, and that is a big part of the culture being able to see your masters or elders or parents or teachers and view them as important. I think that is also what Shuyan is learning.
Q: You have done a lot of fantasy work with this, with Beauty and the Beast, with Smallville. What is one career goal that you still want to achieve?
KK: Oh God. Well, apart from acting I really want to produce. I want to be able to create the stories that I am most interested in and I am starting down that path but it is a very challenging journey. When you are most known for one thing it is really hard to get out of that and to build a skill set in another direction. When you spend the majority of your adult live doing one thing, am I good at anything else?
After our interview with Kreuk, we had the opportunity to sit in on a round table with both her and the game creators to learn a little more about the saga. Kristin admits that finding her groove with voice acting was quite different than previous experiences, as no longer is she able to convey emotion with expression, but relying entirely on her voice. It is a skill, and one that the game makers assure us (and her) that she did flawlessly.
The topic of the Asian bias within Hollywood was brought forward, and the challenge many Asian artists are facing in finding roles. Kreuk, who is half Chinese, admits that while her first role was of Asian decent, all roles since have been Caucasian, and that she has not directly experienced this bias in her work. However, many of her colleagues admit to finding it difficult to find roles, as there are simply not enough created for Asian actors. The landscape within Hollywood is changing, but there are still barriers for many ethnicities and actors, and it is something the industry needs to address moving forward to ensure inclusion and diversity within their work.
We cant thank Kristin Kreuk and the Shuyan Saga team enough for allowing us the opportunity to talk with them and learn more about this unique and challenging game experience! If you haven’t grabbed yours yet, be sure to do so quickly, as we have no doubt it is one that everyone will be talking about!