Released by Sakaguchi’s video game studio, Mistwalker, via Apple Arcade for iOS devices, Fantasian was designed with an old-style feel, from gameplay to environment. The studio even roped in some high-profile names to help design the game’s world.
The turn-based Role Playing Game (RPG) Fantasian’s plot is fairly simple. The protagonist of the story, Leo, wakes up from an explosion with his memories gone. He subsequently gets sucked into a fate-defying quest, of gargantuan proportion, while trying to piece together the details of his own identity.
The tale seems as though it may span a number of games, with two parts in the Fantasian story already having been released. The first part, in April of this year. The second part following, on the 13th of August.
The title was developed, exclusively, for Apple Arcade by Mistwalker. This happened after Hironobu met with Apple staff members, who were fans of the creator’s Final Fantasy series. The team built the game with the spirit of Hironbu’s roots. The painstaking development affected both gameplay, and the environment. Not to mention the game’s look-and-feel.
Inspiration for Fantasian
Having done a number of titles: from Blade Guardian to Party Wave, to Final story, and finally breaking into mobile with Terra Wars, Mistwalker started working on Fantasian after Hironbu was inspired to do something that we close in spirit to old Japanese role-playing games after playing Final Fantasy VI in 2018. The studio took the concept a step further by building the title’s set completely, with hand-crafted dioramas.
Roping in Japan’s Tokusatsu greats, the video game house developed over 150 dioramas that are used in Fantasia’s in-game world. Akira Toriyama (creator of the Dragon Ball series), as well as some of the folks who were involved in the Attack On Titan series all chipped in, developing the in-game world.
Digitizing the game
Using a total of over 150 hand-crafted dioramas of buildings and their interiors, the studio took to the task of digitizing the entire world including the machine realm. This is harder than 3D computer-generated design, as changes to the world are harder to make.
Gameplay Overview of Fantasian
The lead character, Leo, explores an incredibly designed, and expansive world, looking for clues of his identity while battling enemies in turn-based combat. In combat mode, gameplay automatically switches to a turn-based style, where opponents take turns delivering strategic attacks on one another.
Such battles eventually lead to the Machine Realm, an alternate reality that the protagonist, along with the squad, is transported to. Fantasian carries all the hallmarks of a turn-based RPG title, but what makes it unique is the Dimengeon mode.
When Dimengeon is activated, up to 30 enemies encountered can be locked in the Dimengeon realm, allowing players to waylay battles, in favor of exploration. One caveat though, once the Dimengeon is full, all enemies are released at once, forcing players into fighting multiple enemies.
Fantasian offers one of the best Japanese turn-based RPG experiences that we, or perhaps anyone, have had in a while. The blend of new, and old gaming influences, in a classically styled turn-based RPG should delight fans who are both new or familiar with the genre.