ZO­DIAC

The JRPG stars align for this pain­terly free-to-play fan­tasy

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We don’t typ­i­cally as­so­ciate Scot­land with role­play­ing games. Yes, the cap­i­tal boasts a proud devel­op­ment lin­eage, what with play­ing home to Rockstar North and the cul­tural and sales phe­nom­e­non that is GTA. But the coastal city of Dundee act­ing as a cru­cial base for a JRPG/MMOG hand­held hy­brid? That’s new.

Yet French de­vel­oper Kobojo re­cently es­tab­lished a tight clutch of 24 coders and artists in the city, an ex­pan­sion made to help it ag­gres­sively pur­sue high-end pro­duc­tion val­ues. That new team is now hard at work on a per­sis­tent on­line RPG of quite daunt­ing scope, aim­ing for a world the size of a Fi­nal Fan­tasy for play­ers to quest to­gether in. Cur­rently known by the work­ing ti­tle Zo­diac, it draws on steam­punk and anime in­flu­ences to in­form its art di­rec­tion, then teth­ers it to tra­di­tional Ja­panese fan­tasy in a free-to-play adventure that’s des­tined for Vita, tablets and smartphones, planned to be ready for gen­eral con­sump­tion by the end of this year.

Dundee might not be renowned for its RPGs, but the Ja­panese tal­ent that Kobojo has brought on most cer­tainly is. Sound de­sign is be­ing han­dled by Ba­sis­cape, a Tokyo com­pany helmed by Hi­toshi Saki­moto, the cel­e­brated com­poser of Fi­nal Fan­tasy Tac­tics and Va­grant Story. Also on the pay­roll is Kazushige No­jima, the writer re­spon­si­ble for pen­ning scripts and sce­nar­ios on over ten Fi­nal Fan­tasy games. “For guys who are in­dus­try leg­ends, they’re very nor­mal,” Kobojo pres­i­dent Mario Rizzo tells us. “We first met [No­jima] in an Ital­ian restau­rant in Ja­pan and just drank beer and talked about pro­fes­sional wrestling. By the end of that meal, he said he’d like to work with us.” Con­sid­er­ing he is still com­mit­ted to con­jur­ing sce­nar­ios for Fi­nal Fan­tasy XV, it

The to­pog­ra­phy fluc­tu­ates sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing our hands-on. Start­ing with a leisurely glide over arid waste­lands, the world tran­si­tions from deserts to un­der­ground cav­erns as our grif­fin passes through float­ing por­tals.

Com­bat cur­rently feels pas­sive. Rather than opt for the tim­ing-based cadence of a South­Park:TheStickOf Truth, Zo­diac asks you to wait pa­tiently to be swat­ted by Gothic mon­strosi­ties

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