Welcome to Indie Spotlight, our latest feature where we highlight independent video games, and interview the developers. For this installment, I had the pleasure to ask Mariona Valls and Javier Galvez from Mango Protocol about Agatha Knife, a fun, comedic point and click adventure about a girl who sets out to create her own religion in order to save the family butcher shop.
Xbox Enthusiast: Agatha Knife is a dark game that looks so family friendly at first glance. How did the team decide to blend cute imagery with a mature subject matter?
Mariona Valls: It’s something we “rescued” from my final degree project. I studied Fine Arts and my final degree project, called Psychotic Girls, was a bunch of dark stories, all of them with little girls as protagonists with very childish and quirky styled illustrations. At that time I was suffering a lot due to personal circumstances, and those stories were really therapeutic for me as they allowed me to release all my demons without fear, because they were just cute gory cartoons. Five years later, Javi and I decided to redefine this concept and transformed it into video games, and that’s how Psychotic Adventures was born.
Xbox Enthusiast: The humor in the game is satirical, but people who practice religion can also deem it offensive. When coming up with the narrative, how did the team approach the central themes that the game touches on?
Javier Galvez: First of all I’d like to note that some members of the team studied at Catholic schools, one of which is an active contributor of the feminist movement on game development in our city, Barcelona. Oh, and the English translator of Agatha Knife is vegan. We are not trying to preach or teach anyone, just to show human conundrums that most of us may have faced sometime through an interesting and fun interactive story. While our ideas are depicted in the game through some characters, some others show completely different points of view, creating conflicting situations. Despite that, we knew that tackling topics like religion, vegetarianism or gender roles in Agatha Knife using a satirical tone would trigger alarms and, eventually, make some people run away from it. We think that there should be no problem in making fun of something if the goal is not to be offensive. And sadly, in most cases the offending intention is only on the side of the alleged victim.
Xbox Enthusiast: I’m a person who practices religion. It’s something important to me, but while I thought some jokes were “out” there, I found Agatha Knife to have a lot of heart. Do you expect the game to have a diverse fan base? Was there a concern that people with religious backgrounds might object to the game? In my case, did the team expect some people who practice religion to enjoy Agatha Knife?
JG: Many people have asked us “Who is Agatha Knife for?”, and we always answer “People that is not predisposed to be offended.” That has also been proven after releasing the game, so Agatha has a really diverse fan base, indeed. You don’t need to be a fan of point and click adventure games, praise the adult humor of The Simpsons and South Park, or love Adventure Time visual style. You may even be a religious vegan queer person and find Agatha Knife extremely respectful and engaging! In the end, It’s the player choice to dive deep, just have a good time with Agatha’s quest, or skip the whole experience.
Xbox Enthusiast: What are some of the influences for Agatha Knife? I’m not familiar with the genre, but the game is so unique that I’m unsure if anything inspired the team to make it.
MV: As people who were born in the 80s, we played classic adventure titles like the Lucas Arts ones. Being honest, we just tried to make a game that fitted our profiles, experiences and personal tastes and…”voilà”.
JG: Exactly. We knew we wanted to tell a comic-style story and let the player discover and unfold it, diving into Agatha’s world, talking to a bunch of weird characters and solving some entertaining puzzles. We sure have some dormant influences due to our gaming backgrounds, but we didn’t intentionally choose any games to be references for the design of Agatha Knife. Oh, and I think Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is way better than The Secret of Monkey Island. Mic drop (and run!).
Xbox Enthusiast: I liked all of the pop-culture references that I noticed throughout my time with Agatha Knife. From Marilyn Manson to Alexisonfire to different comic book heroes, Agatha Knife is a game filled with homages to so many wonderful things. How important was it for the team to show respect to shows, characters, and artists they enjoy?
MV: For me as the artist who usually portrays all this stuff (some explicit references are in dialogues but most of them are visual) is super important, speaks about who I am as a person and a creator, is my humble way to say “thank you” in a funny way. Some people asked me if we do it thinking about a certain audience, but I never think about the people who are supposed to catch the pun. If it’s fun for me and the team, it’s the only thing that matters.
JG: For me it’s important to have at least one Evangelion reference in all our games. I need it.
Xbox Enthusiast: Agatha Knife clocks in at close to 4 hours. The industry is full of 30-40 hour video games that require so much commitment. One of the things that I adored most about the game was that it didn’t ask for much of my time. It’s a game I could enjoy in one sitting, and I love that. Did the team always envision Agatha Knife as a short experience?
MV: We are a tiny team and really aware of our limitations. It wouldn’t be very realistic to think about making an enormous narrative game with 30 hours of gameplay. Besides that, I personally enjoy games that don’t ask for a huge part of my spare time. I think it’s nice to have the option to play without losing your social life.
Xbox Enthusiast: Your previous game, MechaNika is currently on Steam, Humble Bundle, Google Play, and the Apple App Store. Are there any plans to eventually bring it to consoles?
JG: We’d love to bring MechaNika to consoles but it would depend on how Agatha Knife performs during these first weeks. So far it has been very well received, so we hope more people keep discovering the game, enjoying it and spreading the word about it!
I’d like to thank Mariona Valls and Javier Galvez from Mango Protocol for taking the time to talk to me about Agatha Knife. If you’re interested in Agatha Knife, be sure to check out an article written about the game here. Agatha Knife is currently available on Xbox One for $11.99.