Ashborne Games Considered Making Last Train Home As An RPG

"We considered RPG and RTS, with RTS being a stepping stone in terms of narrative work."

Story Highlights

  • Last Train Home — a game about the Czechoslovak Legion — will be released on November 28, 2023.
  • Ashborne Games has focused on the part of Czechoslovak history that has never been explored before.
  • We Interviewed Petr Kolář, the Managing Director at Ashborne, to get insight into Last Train Home.

One of the most challenging tasks for video games is to portray historical events in a way that doesn’t undermine history yet still manages to deliver a strong narrative. Ashborne Games has conceptualized the idea of a game depicting the brave Czechoslovak Legion, which, as you would expect, has not been explored in another game before. 

For the uninitiated, Ashborne Games is a recent addition to the THQ Nordic family, which is popular for dozens of noteworthy titles. As such, the expectations for this game are at an all-time high, especially for RTS lovers. eXputer had the opportunity to interview the Managing Director, Petr Kolář, in recent times over email to cast a lens on the challenges of depicting such a strong story along with behind-the-scenes information on the game’s development.

Read ahead for the full interview containing Petr’s invaluable insight on the Last Train Home. 

Last Train Home - Image via THQ Nordic
Last Train Home – Image via THQ Nordic.

Can you introduce yourself and explain your role and involvement in the development of Last Train Home?

Petr: Hello. I’m Petr Kolář, and I take care of the Ashborne Games studio. That means making sure that both the operations and development parts run as they should. I try to be the voice of players in the Last Train Home development.

As far as I am aware, there have yet to be any games focusing on the Czechoslovak Legion. Did the lack of such content pose difficulty for the team, or has it worked out better?

Petr: While there were some board games, the Czechoslovak Legion is mostly an untouched territory in video games. This allowed us to establish our own approach without any need to take other games about the Legion into account. We knew from the start that we wanted to create a combination of genres with both battles and management parts.

I have seen several people commending the studio for picking a subject that is niche, even in parts of Czechia and Slovakia. But I am curious to know what exactly led to the decision to make a game revolving around the Czechoslovak Legion.

Petr: We discussed many possibilities when we were setting up the studio with THQ Nordic. Karel Kališ, our Creative Director, came up with the idea of depicting the harsh journey of the Czechoslovak Legion over Siberia, the story of returning home from war. Everyone was on board instantly, as this allows us to tell a compelling story that is close to our hearts.

Although the game is based on real events, can we expect to see some parts of fiction?

Petr: The game tells the story of a fictional last train. We even decided to condense the timeline to allow players to see all the major events of the Siberian Odyssey. On the other hand, we tried to be as authentic as possible, checking with historians and the Czechoslovak Legion Community for verifiable historical facts.

Aside from František Langer, which other characters are based on real-life soldiers?

Petr: While František Langer was some inspiration to Captain Langer in our game, they aren’t meant to be the same person. We decided to not use the real soldiers as they have no way to voice their concerns nowadays. There are many descendants of these brave heroes, and I can only imagine them being unhappy about various story decisions soldiers make in our game, which they won’t do in real life.

Last Train Home - Image via THQ Nordic
Last Train Home – Image via THQ Nordic.

Did the team consult with any descendants of the soldiers who were part of the Czechoslovak Legion?

Petr: We got in touch with the Czechoslovak Legion Community even before we started the development of our game. They have evidence of all the legion soldiers and track even the ancestry for anyone interested to see if they had someone in the Legion. The Czechoslovak Legion Community provided us with their research into equipment, weapons, and uniforms of the legion soldiers, as well as the possibility to check the Legion train – a replica of the historic train that serves as a museum cruising our railways.

there a particular reason the studio went with a real-time strategy game this time? The previous title, Comanche, was a modern helicopter shooter, which is much different from Last Train Home.

Petr: Most of our team worked on action games before we established Ashborne Games. And we agreed we had enough of that at that time, and we would like to change a genre to something else. We considered RPG and RTS, with RTS being a stepping stone in terms of narrative work. I guess we showed we can provide a solid narrative; the players are going to judge that on Last Train Home soon.

The demo is currently out, but the full release still has a few weeks to go. Can you tell us how many hours players might take to complete Last Train Home?

Petr: As we are finishing Last Train Home, it’s clear that different approaches mean a solid difference in time spent in the game. We expect players to enjoy the first playthrough for at least 40 hours, possibly a lot more, based on their approach to missions and management.

Last Train Home is not just an RTS but also a resource management game. How punishing are the resource management aspects? Will our early-game blunders cause issues long-term, or is the game generous in that aspect?

Petr: We tried to build individual chapters in a way that they are a self-contained puzzle. While players may encounter some hardships on the way, they should be able to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, returning to the start of the chapter in the worst-case scenario.

Will the game ever make its way to other platforms?

Petr: As we are working on a brand-new game, we need to evaluate the success after the release. I can imagine some cooperation with Handy Games, for example, getting the game as a premium title on mobile.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the audience? Something we haven't touched upon yet.

Petr: I can recommend checking our demo on Steam – it should tell you if Last Train Home is a game for you. While the game expands a lot, even in later phases, the combination of strategic battles and management may work better when tried than on paper. There are roughly six hours of gameplay ready in the demo already.

YouTube video

Ashborne Games has ensured that this depiction of the historical occurrence doesn’t taint the legacy of the heroes from the Legion and still delivers the major events to players. Another interesting thing that Petr talked about was how the studio considered the RPG and RTS genres for this game. Since RPG often becomes a big-scale project, the studio chose RTS as a stepping stone.

Imagining a role-playing game revolving around these events does seem very appealing, but we mustn’t underestimate the potential of real-time strategies. And while it will only be available on PC at first, the game’s success can lead to console releases. So, if you want to support the studio, you can dive into the demo and determine whether this is a game for you.

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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