Oaken Provides a New Take Full of Celtic and Tribal vibes on the Tactical Genre

  • Oaken is a brand new turn-based tactical roguelike coming to Xbox consoles.
  • Oaken takes place in a mystical world inspired by Celtic and tribal legends.
  • Oaken’s battles take place on a hexagonal grid and are highly tactical.

It all starts with a tree. Oaken’s story revolves around the Great Oak and its spirits: the Lady, a clueless, yet pretty brave little sprout – along with her awakening into this whimsical world, she inherits a quest to bring back the Oaksong – a spell which has kept the inhabitants of the Oak peaceful for countless cycles; Kidu, a fierce and unpredictable fire Spirit, who has his very own ideas on how to deal with all of this mess; and the Pathfinder – a mysterious mentor, who helps them reach their destination along with many other spirit Guides discovered during the journey.

Oaken screenshot

In most tactical roguelikes and card battlers, the conflict pits “your side” versus the “enemy side”. In Oaken, battles are focused on your hero character who participates in the battle.  Heros can summon spirits and use spells and trinkets. And you will of course lose the game if your hero is defeated. The so-called line of sight and “action areas” are calculated from the position of your hero. There are events and dialogues directed at them, and at the end of the day it is up to the Lady and Kidu to resolve the conflict of the story in their own ways!

Art-wise, the team over at Laki Studios had fun coming up with these crazy and cute Spirits inhabiting the Oak. A lot of celtic and slavic folklore served as a base for the designs and the lore of Oaken. That being said, they also wanted to twist that base in a fun, whimsical direction. Games like Rayman or Final Fantasy were also big inspirations. The developers wanted the design to be adorable while remaining very mysterious and kind of ancient at their core.

Oaken hex grid

As for the mechanics, the Laki Studios crew are self-professed big board-game fans and they got a lot of inspiration from physical games, one of their favorites being Neuroshima Hex . That game gave us the initial push to try and experiment with rotating units on a hexagonal grid. They then tried to use the most fun aspects of card games like Hearthstone and Faeria, mixed with the smart roguelite and tactical aspects of Into the Breach. So you can clearly say that Oaken was created by mixing tons of different elements!

Oaken game shot

Speaking of mechanics, every unit in Oaken has a “front” and “back”, and can rotate in one of six hexagonal directions. Depending on their position and rotation, they can use multiple abilities, backstabs, dodges, charges – there’s plenty of placement, movement and attack actions to outsmart your enemy. Don’t get fooled by the cute art style though!  Oaken is a tough tactical game even on standard difficulty. We are pretty confident than battle tested players will find the higher difficulty levels to be quite challenging!

Oaken screenshot

That being said, the developers also wanted to make sure that Oaken is not overly complex on the first playthrough while also being hard enough for demanding players! They introduced a system called Talents and Masteries that allows players to gradually increase the difficulty as they make progress into the game. And as a way to also support players who are mainly here for the story and are purely into relaxed gameplay, they also added a Relaxed mode.

Oaken menu

We are well aware that there are many Tactical and roguelikes out there. Oaken places a higher emphasis on positioning and especially rotation as the team found that to be something underutilized in the genre. Laki Studios also worked very hard on Oaken’s character design. Every spirit in the game went through a detailed process of design, from multiple concept arts to polished illustrations. They also paid special care to the game’s world building. It is coherent and logical and has been in development for years. Oaken’s story about the cute spirits has actual meaning. But to learn more about that, players will have to get the game!

Oaken menu

Ported to Xbox consoles by Red Art Studios, Oaken is coming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One on July 20. Pre-order Oaken on the Microsoft Store and get 20% off its full price.