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