The classic TCG and RPG setting of Rokugan finally gets a video game from Asmodee Entertainment and Palindrome Interactive, in the form of a Rogue-lite autobattler.
Legend of the Five Rings is one of the most successful collectible card games (CCGs) from the 1990s. Along with Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon, L5R helped usher in and set the tone, mechanics, and flavor fans have come to expect from these trading card games.
Surprisingly, Legend of the Five Rings never had a video game adaptation, even its heyday. But that will soon change with the new game set to arrive on mobile devices.
The announcement was posted at the Palindrome Interactive home page and the newly created Legend of the Five Rings website, which was shared via the official social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
The next chapter for Palindrome Interactive is here!
We are thrilled to announce that we have partnered with Asmodee Entertainment to bring the Legend of the Five Rings universe into the space of video games.
— Palindrome Interactive (@Palindrome_int) July 27, 2023
The game will be a single-player Rogue-lite autobattler. Thus, it will be similar to popular Rogue-lites on platforms like most mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch such as Dead Cells, Darkest Dungeon, and Undermine.
In the upcoming Legend of the Five Rings game, players will take on the role of a samurai commander of the battle-hardened Crab Clan. According to the official description of the gameplay:
Undertake a desperate quest to investigate a growing threat in the deepest reaches of the Shadowlands, the blighted domain of the fallen god Fu Leng.
You’ll need to gather a party of fresh recruits as well as powerful heroes and equip them to survive the myriad horrors that dwell in the wastes beyond the Carpenter Wall. There, monsters, demons, undead, and the very land itself are your enemy, so even the most experienced samurai must learn to adapt while traveling in the Shadowlands. As you venture further from the Wall, you’ll need to gather experience and abilities to hone your party’s skills, as well as perfect their combat tactics to withstand the growing evil they’ll encounter.
Tobias Forsling, Studio Manager at Palindrome Interactive, had this to say of the collaboration with Asmodee and the Embracer Group:
We are honored and excited to work on this fantastic franchise with our friends at Asmodee. With years of experience working with strategy and tactical games, we are confident that we will be able to contribute with a great addition to the already fantastic lineup of products within the franchise.
Palindrome Interactive is a new player in the industry, with Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars as its only currently released product. Meanwhile, the game and media holding company Embracer Group (Nasdaq Stockholm: EMBRAC B) has been on a steady road acquiring smaller businesses in the gaming industry for several years. Just earlier this year, the conglomerate acquired Gearbox Entertainment, Perfect World Entertainment, and Square Enix.
But it doesn’t end with just video game companies. Back in 2021, the entrepreneurial group also acquired Financière Amuse Topco SAS (commonly known as Asmodee). Headquartered in France, Asmodee is one of the biggest tabletop and digital board game, roleplaying, and trading card game publishers and distributors in the world. And the Embracer Group purchased Asmodee for EUR 2.75 billion (or roughly U.S. $3.1 billion).
One of the key IPs in the Asmodee portfolio is Legend of the Five Rings. Also called L5R by its fans, the Legend of the Five Rings started as a collectible card game published by Alderac Entertainment in 1995. The game is set in a fictional fantasy realm called Rokugan. The setting is heavily influenced by medieval Japan, China, Mongolia, and other Asian myths and legends.
L5R’s main story revolves around the Empire of Rokugan in disarray, with its major clans (Crab, Crane, Dragon, Lion, Phoenix, and Unicorn) vying for control while the threat from the Shadowlands and its monstrous oni looms and whispers of the return of the dark lord Fu Leng spread fear. As the wars rage, other factions join in the struggle, such as the dishonored Scorpion clan, the ronins of Toturi’s Army, the minor clans in Yoritomo’s Alliance, the monks of the Brotherhood of Shinsei, the inhuman Naga Army, and the horde of the Shadowlands.
At its peak, the L5R CCG rivaled Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: The Gathering for popularity. The game even held one of the most influential tabletop gaming events, The Day of Thunder, where the winner of the tournament would determine how the future of Rokugan would officially progress. This resulted in the Lion Clan becoming the new Imperial Guard and the Lion Clan Thunder, Akodo Toturi, ascending to the throne of the Emerald Empire.
Eventually, Legend of the Five Rings would win the Origins Award for Best Card Game of 1996. Wizards of the Coast itself would publish an Oriental Adventures supplement for the Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition set in Rokugan. Despite its critical success and fan support, Legend of the Five Rings would cease publishing the CCG in 2015.
The L5R IP would be purchased by Fantasy Flight Games from Alderac Entertainment, developing a new card game using a different system than the original. This new Legend of the Five Rings card game would receive a number of expansions, but it would eventually be discontinued in 2021, citing low sales and the pandemic as the main factors for its demise. Fantasy Flight Games also developed a new tabletop Legend of the Five Rings RPG with Edge Studio before the company was acquired by Asmodee USA.
Despite the history and popularity of Legend of the Five Rings, the property never had a video game developed for it. Some fans on Reddit even settled for Ghost of Tsushima as a spiritual homage to L5R. But with L5R finally getting an official video game based on the setting and property, could more be on the horizon? Perhaps something like the classic BioWare martial arts RPG Jade Empire? Or a digital card game like Magic: The Gathering Arena?
No official release date has been given for the Legend of the Five Rings video game, as of the time of this writing.