Getting down in the trenches with WW1 RTS Kickstarter Ratten Reich

If you’ve ever wondered what the Redwall series would have been like if it was set circa 1917, you may be interested in the world of Ratten Reich; a grimdark fantasy setting where various anthropomorphic animals fight it out in a grueling WW1-esque conflict for supremacy. Coming to us courtesy of Eastern European developer Metal Adler Studios, the game puts players in the general’s boots of one of three factions, consisting of mice, cockroaches, and, yes, rats. With its Kickstarter imminent, we decided to talk to lead developer Ostap Polyakov about fighting war tooth-and-claw style.

Dread XP: Hi! Can you introduce Metal Adler Studio?

Ostap Polyakov: Hello! Metal Adler studio is a small studio made up of developers from Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukrain, Latvia and Lithuania. We’re making Ratten Reich; an RTS about a great and dark war of anthropomorphic animals that takes place in an alternative steampunk and dieselpunk inspired universe.

DXP: Can you tell us a bit about the world of Ratten Reich?

Polyakov : Ratten Reich is a grim and unforgiving world, where war has been waged for many years. The war is fought between rats, mice, roaches and lizards. Slum-like cities, burnt corpses, steam tanks, soldiers in imperial uniforms and armour… And the soil, the mother of all, full of bomb craters and battle scars. Millions upon millions of fates, dreams are nothing more than ashes from the fires now…

This is the story we are trying to tell in an RTS game with interesting and unusual mechanics. Mice countries under the flags of the great Franx and Angul nations have allied with the Tzar army of roaches and the monitor lizards of the Land of the Rising Sun. Together they clash against the might of the titular Ratten Reich Empire.

DXP: Where did the idea for doing this game first come from?

Polyakov : The idea to make Ratten Riech came from reading 1984 by George Orwell, as we wanted to create a dark, dystopian universe. Likewise, we were also inspired by the Warhammer 40,000 universe, H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, and even The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

DXP: Can you talk a bit about the factions?

Polyakov : First is the Ratten Reich itself. This is a giant empire that consists of little duchies, all of which are united under the flag of the Emperor. This is a country that has delved into scientific and technological research for decades, leading to an expansion of steam- and dieselpunk industries in the everyday life of rats. Having once been a collection of smaller and oppressed countries, this colonial power has grown over the past 25 years to become an empire to fear.

The world of the empire is grim to the core. The acceleration of military power and the development of light and heavy industry turned cities into smoky, dark places that lead to blackened rain. Monolithic structures, old European houses and slum-like districts make up the majority of the empire. The regular army of rats had 13 million soldiers in the pre-war period; in the first years of the war, this figure tripled.

Opposing them is the FMR, a conclave of 38 countries in which the two strongest empires, Franx and Angul, have supremacy. Both empires wage an internal struggle for power and influence over the small countries. Trade coalitions, lavish and luxurious mansions, nobles and feudal lords, counts, princes and princesses; this is one small side of the FMR. The poverty of the districts of ordinary residents, the lack of access to health care systems, the high crime rate, the diversity of the army and the lack of equipment, bribery and corruption; this is the rotten core of this union.

The motherland of roaches is an almost unexplored country. The Tsarist regime turned their territory into a very huge and varied cult of steam mechanics. Every single part of everyday citizen life is shrouded in steam. The harsh climate and imminent revolution haunt the roaches, forcing them to adapt again and again.

Eastwards, there’s the Red Dragon nation. For the last six years, this huge country has been torn apart by civil wars and famine, and has been waging a vigorous struggle against the agamas. Enlisting the support of the mice, the monitor lizards try to stop waging war with each other and resist the expansion of the invaders. Technology is just beginning to move into the contemporary era. An island nation under the emperor’s command.

Lastly, there’s the Agama lizards. They’re close friends and associates of the rats and are one of the main players at sea and naval construction in the world. They build ships for the rats in exchange for more sophisticated technologies or weapons. For a long time, this country dominated the islands, but now it has decided to begin expansion on lands that are not surrounded by the sea on all sides.

DXP: What are some of the game’s inspirations in terms of its mechanics?

Polyakov : The game’s main gameplay inspirations are Men of War and Company of Heroes. We hope that players will be attracted by the setting, as well as the opportunities it presents in terms of how customisable equipment will be, the variety of units it offers and its neat gore effects.

DXP: What are you hoping Ratten Reich will bring to the RTS genre that’s new?

Polyakov : It will bring more micro-control and variety, interesting setups for assaults or ambushes, and the opportunity to fight battles at different heights. The main thing is to bring realism and drama, that’s what we think. We’re trying to show that such a complex genre as RTS can be realized by a small indie studios like us.

DXP: Lastly, what’s your favourite unit in the game so far, and why?

Polyakov: It’s got to be the Strike Force Ghost in the army of rats. It’s a unit with a lot of heavy weaponry like machine guns at it’s disposal, and is great in both offense and defence.

If you want to keep an eye on Ratten Reich you can follow Dread XP as we follow the game.