Alter Ego: Grim Hearts


Hey guys, I am actually quiet glad to say that we met with Alter Ego at MEFCC, a UAE company interested in creating games and a mecha anime… in Arabic  I thought it was pretty cool that the Arab world is finally moving on to creating our own games and shows, and whats really cool is that they do it so well! I mean the stuff we saw looked awesome! Right, now a lot of people may tell me “whats new?” we have had plenty of attempts here in the Middle East in creating video games and shows. What makes those guys different? To me I would say it’s the difference between accepting the mediocre and striving for excellence. That is not to say that the work is free from flaws, actually when I saw it, it was still in its early phases.

A while later Doom arranged an interview with Mr. Ahmed Almutawa the CoFounder of Alter Ego Productions, the interview spanned a little more than one hour where we discussed EVERYTHING we could think of discussing regarding Grim Hearts their new and upcoming game, which is a hybrid cross between a dating sim and an RPG,  and Torkaizer an Anime styled Mecha “Rosoom” as he preferred calling it (I will get into that later in the next article regarding Torkaizer) that is hopefully in the making (The Alien Mecha looked pretty bad ass!)

Now I will try not really put a transcript of our talk because quiet frankly I tend to have a habit of deviating WAAAAAAAAAY off of the main topic and he was kind enough to indulge me! Instead I will be giving you facts I garnered, and my impressions of the information I was given. It’s not the first time for me to see ambitious productions that take a shot at doing something big. But what really caught my eye with Mr. Almutawa was how incredibly focused on details he was. He was also very honest about the progress of the game explaining where it was right now and how much more it would need before it met his expectations for the final build.


So to start with, I will discuss the game GrimHearts; the story and concept both being products of Mr. Almutawa’s imagination. The game incorporates 12 characters (6 couples) that the player can play with… each of those characters utilizing their own weapons abilities, skills and styles. The plot revolves around a newly wed couple who during their honey moon end up being sent to another world which is practically inescapable. The nature of that world changes the way people look and seeps the positive feelings from those who inhabit it causing negativity to fester and grow the longer someone stays in it. That world is governed by a Dark Lord Archtype. The objective of the game is to compete against others in order to gain control over the Grim Heart a powerful artifact capable of granting the owner’s wish. One of the reasons Mr. Almutawa was excited for the game was to be able to introduce a mobile device/ tab based game that actually contained a meaningful story as opposed to what could be said to be a trend of pitiful excuses for stories on those platforms (that is, not to say that all those games have bad stories… but I do agree that a general majority use stories as an excuse rather than anything else). Also note that he is in the process of writing the story for Grim Hearts 2 should the first become successful so that the game would have a sequel that was consistent and made sense.

The game allows for two players to play simultaneously and scores how well players do over the course of the game. Players can select from preset conversation options which affect the AI’s behavior (Kinda like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc… but in a simpler form). This game function seems to be modeled around Mr. Almutawa’s interest in how relationships function, and how each member in the relationship can influence the other with through communication (or lack of) and behaviors. Over the course of the game, the players get the opportunity to meet interact and compete with other characters (couples) who depending on how the players play the game some of the couples encountered may then also be used as player characters.

Mr. Almutawa then described the game explaining that the player will be seeing different viewpoints  (camera angles), the game will also be introducing the “Tryst” system. The system as he explained it (pardon me if I got it wrong since I am not very technical… In fact, Wasabe tends to refer to me as “Grandpa” whenever we are discussing how tech savvy I am) allows each character to equip Seals (not the animal!) which can grant offensive, defensive as well as passive abilities that allow the characters to be customized in certain ways allowing for different character builds and allows those characters to focus on specializing in certain areas. Mr. Almutawa though did point out specifically that he wanted to move the game away from repetitive grinding as it caused the player to loose the willing suspension of disbelief. Instead, the concept of character progress will be defined by crafting he said.

I remember having to stop right there and think that yeah this game wasn’t your typical game but it was time to ask the corny question… “What do you think made your game unique?”… Yeah I know lame question right? but i just HAD to know what he thought, something told me I would like his answer and I kind of did to be honest! He told me that in his opinion it is the only game that can truly allow you to understand yourself and your significant other.

The conversation then moved on to discuss what got him inspired to start Alter Ego Productions and Grim Hearts, he stated that during Comicon 2012 he was witness to the talent, drive, potential, and interest but didn’t quiet agree with the direction many of the artists where taking in mimicking existing styles as opposed to developing a style unique to the region  He stated to me that he was interested in moving the region’s productions beyond mediocrity or being just acceptable towards excelling in this field. And to do that he would have to provide meaning beyond game and basic story… by sending a message on his views in society (much like what I see some existing games that take a critical approach of Society).

To be honest I look forward to seeing how the game will end up. That being said look forward to it coming out sometime during the first quarter of 2014 (tentatively).


Oh and one more thing… Guys please lets all support all starting developers as it REALLY helps us gamers in the gaming industry get better quality games as it is the guys like Alter Ego who are starting that try to innovate and provide us with something new and move the industry forward in bringing us fun things! So lets all please support them!

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