Step into the raucous and rollicking taverns of Brews & Bastards, where the clinking of glasses accompanies the clash of swords. I’m delighted to bring you an exclusive interview with Erekose, a visionary at the heart of Mune Studio, the indie powerhouse behind this innovative game. Born from a blend of classic dungeon-crawler elements and a unique tavern theme, Brews & Bastards offers a refreshing take on cooperative gameplay and a toast to creativity in game design.
From the inception of its spirited concept to the intricacies of level design, Erekose shares the journey of bringing this intoxicating adventure to life. Whether you’re a fan of strategic combat, endless customisation, or just a good laugh with friends, this game promises to deliver an experience as rich and varied as the brews it celebrates.
So grab your favourite drink, and let’s explore the making of Brews & Bastards, a game that’s brewing up a storm in the gaming world. But first, let’s whet your appetite with a sneak peek at what’s in store:
Brews & Bastards Steam Next Fest trailer
Could you start by introducing yourself and your role in the development of Brews & Bastards?
Hi there! My name is Erekose and I am a Co-Founder of Mune Studio (Dunedin, New Zealand-based indie game company) and Game Designer (with a focus on Level Design) on Brews & Bastards.
What inspired the unique concept of combining a dungeon crawler with a tavern theme in Brews & Bastards?
My dad was, and still is, a big fan of Diablo and Diablo clones. He put thousands and thousands of hours into Diablo 1 and 2. I was working with him around 2015, and during the drive to work he started spitballing this idea of a Diablo clone but instead of potions, you had alcoholic beverages.
I think the first brew idea was “Homebrew” that acted as a town portal, we threw a couple of ideas back and forth (including Oak: The Keggernaut, a playable character still in the game today)
I liked the idea so much I floated it to my friend (and Mune Studio’s other co-founder, Hamish) We talked/joked about it on and off for years, until a government funding grant popped up in 2020, and we decided to apply, which was thankfully successful!
Can you tell us more about the co-op elements in Brews & Bastards and how they enhance the gameplay experience?
Brews & Bastards currently features local co-op, and co-op streaming via Steam Remote Play. The idea of the game was built around couch co-op, we wanted a game that was easy to pick up and play with friends, have a few drinks and a couple of laughs. We have a big focus on making single-player fun and challenging, but we make sure the co-op was more about the power fantasy, blowing away drunken demons and yelling at your friends for stealing your power-ups!
Each character has their own playstyle, weapons, and abilities. How does this variety impact the overall strategy of the game?
In single-player, your character choice is quite important, as you’re not able to rely on friends to help deal with threats, so knowing how to use your abilities and weapon type is key to dealing with enemies effectively. We also focus on making sure that from the start, players can understand exactly what each hero’s strengths and weaknesses are.
In multiplayer, you’re less likely to need to be precise with your skill (as long as you’re not being left behind by friends!) but knowing how your abilities can combo with each other is very important, for example, Oak: The Keggernaut has a defensive ability burp, that stuns enemies and pushes them away, which can set up some nice damage from Rhine: The Rieslinger’s offensive ability, that shoots a barrage of corks from a long distance.
Mugg: The Meadmancer on the other hand, has a defensive circle that buffs player damage when you’re standing inside of it, which allows for massive boss damage if everyone has coordinated their offensive abilities and Brews together.
The game features dungeons with changing layouts and enemies. How does this randomness affect the game’s replayability?
When we set out to make this game, we didn’t want it to be this massive, over-scoped “infinitely playable” game. We love a lot of the games in the Dungeon Crawler/ARPG/Rogue-lite genres, but we often found that we stopped playing them when we were bored, rather than satisfied with an ending.
But we also wanted an amount of replayability, so enemy spawns, room rewards, item shops and item drops will be randomly generated in the Story mode, but not room/level layouts. This allows us to create handcrafted combat and trap encounters that we hope are a little more interesting than generic flat, square rooms. There is also this system called “Pneumatic Rooms” which are pipes that can appear in transition rooms, leading to small sublevels in the brewery that will have randomly generated rooms, and greater risks/rewards.
We do also plan on adding a game mode that randomly links rooms together and removes the story elements, for people who want even more gameplay after finishing the story mode.
Could you explain how the magical brews work in the game and their effects on gameplay?
The entire gameplay of Brews & Bastards revolves around the Brew System. Rather than having items with smaller effects that the player can stack to make themselves stronger over time, we have these single-use brews with bombastic effects. They alter moment-to-moment gameplay in a big way and act as a third ability slot for the players.
When you first start, you’ll have to use the Brews to learn what they do, but with some experience, a player can effectively clear out combat encounters by utilizing Brews when they drop from enemies. We think it keeps gameplay fresh and interesting and stops players from hoarding cool items and never using them. In later levels, players will have to effectively use their brews and hero abilities to succeed.
What can players expect from the combat system in Brews & Bastards? How does it incorporate the game’s unique theme?
Players can expect a challenging but fun-first combat experience with 1 to 2 players, while 3 to 4-player sessions will focus more on chaos and power fantasy. Everything in Brews & Bastards exaggerates the fantasy tavern/magical booze theme, including the combat.
The single-use brew power-ups mentioned before play a massive role in combat, but also the enemy designs (from possessed Jelly Shots and champagne bottles to over-the-top beer pong boss battles) and attack types are influenced by the theme.
You’ve incorporated tavern games into boss fights. How do these encounters differ from traditional boss battles in other dungeon crawlers?
A lot of dungeon crawlers have great boss battles (Path of Exile is an excellent modern example of this) but we wanted to do something more than just bosses with lots of health. Instead, every boss in Brews & Bastards features a mini-game element, in the form of a tavern-themed or pub-related combat arena.
We wanted to give our boss fights a party game element, where players have to work together (or against) each other to make bosses vulnerable to attacks. An example is the current demo boss, “The Drunken Knight” who challenges the player to a massive game of beer pong, where players must land giant ping pong balls in his cups to bring him down, before he clears all of the hero’s cups, resulting in the players losing the fight.
We think it’s a much more engaging and exciting way of doing boss encounters, both for the gamers and for us as the developers. Some future boss ideas include an exaggerated roulette wheel and an amplified pool table!
Humour seems to be a significant aspect of Brews & Bastards. How do you balance humour and gameplay to create an engaging experience?
Humour can be a great tool to quickly engage players in the world we’ve built, but it can also become stale fast. We kept a lot of the humour tied to the story and narrator of the game, which features when entering new levels and after defeating bosses, to not get in the way of gameplay.
A lot of the humour is just within the world itself, from the silly enemy and player designs to the over-the-top brewery architecture and boss designs. We didn’t want the environment to be overwhelming while playing but rather have moments where people would laugh and be like “Oh, that pillar is shaped like a giant rum bottle” or seeing the ridiculous boss introductions for the first time.
As Brews & Bastards is set to enter Early Access, what are the main goals you hope to achieve during this phase?
We really want to hear player feedback and their ideas! Everyone who gets their hands on the demo seems to have some really cool ideas or bits of feedback that we love and chuck onto the idea board. We’d love to build a lot of the game with community-focused ideas during our early access period.
Are there plans to expand the game beyond the initial release, such as new levels, characters, or modes?
We certainly have a lot of ideas or content that has been cut that we’d love to put into the game. Levels, characters, enemies, bosses and brews, but it’s only possible for a team our size to add additional content if we get a publisher deal, or the game does really well in early access/post-release, but we’ve got some ideas we’d love to add if that happens!
And a final question for a bit of fun. If Brews & Bastards characters could visit any other game’s tavern, which would it be and why?
The Tavern of the Rising Sun from Diablo 1. I think the inhabitants of Tristram could really use some cheering up, or extra help with all the demons and whatnot.
As our conversation with Erekose draws to a close, it’s clear that Brews & Bastards is more than just a game; it’s a testament to the power of creativity, collaboration, and, of course, a good pint. With its unique blend of humour, strategy, and cooperative gameplay, Mune Studio is setting the bar high for indie games. As the game prepares to make its debut during Steam Next Fest, we’re not just excited to play it; we’re excited to be part of a community that embraces innovation and fun in equal measure.
Whether you’re battling through dungeons, laughing over a game of beer pong with a boss, or strategising with friends over which brew to use next, Brews & Bastards promises an experience that’s as unforgettable as it is enjoyable. So here’s to Mune Studio and its upcoming adventure—may it inspire as many smiles and shared moments as the taverns it brings to life. Cheers to Brews & Bastards, a game that’s sure to fill our gaming cups to the brim with joy and camaraderie.
If you want to continue to follow the game and get involved with its community, check out the useful links below:
- You can wishlist the game and play the demo now over on Steam
- You can join their Discord channel and provide feedback or give your suggestions.
- You can follow their Twitter account for gameplay clips and behind-the-scenes development.
- For everything else Brews & Bastards related, we have the Mune Studio website or the Brews & Bastards website.
If you’d like to check out more Q&As with devs of some other games, just click right here.