Now that the proverbial dust has mostly settled around the launch of Atlus' largest project to date - Persona 5 - it's time to turn eyes towards the future, or back to Zero, depending which way you'd like to think about it. I realize that it may feel like it's too soon to really dissect & analyze what Atlus is creating with Studio Zero & its first project: Re Fantasy, but I felt it would be interesting to look at the possibilities for the title, as well as what the general populace of GAF want to see from the project.
What we know about the game:
- No Announced Release Date, or Price.
- Full-scale Production began in 2017. Recruitment drive underway. Project in Early Stages.
- Platform is "undecided" but game is being made for "those who like home console games and love Atlus games."
- Though a Platform remains unannounced, a 4 page interview was published in Dengeki Playstation on January 12th.
- Not meant to be a "AAA" title, but of "5-Star Interest all the same, similar to what we've done before."
- Produced & Directed by Katsura Hashino. (Previous Work includes: Persona 3, 4, 5, Catherine, and more)
- Character Design & Art by Shigenori Soejima - now part of Atlus' "Artwork Team." (Previous Work includes: Persona 3, 4, 5, Catherine, and more)
- Sound Composition & Music by Shoji Meguro. (Previous Work includes: Persona 3, 4, 5, Catherine, and more)
- List of other current staff members involved with Project Re Fantasy can be found here.
- A focus of the game is to build "new ideas based on things from the past."
- The Fantasy genre was chosen so that Atlus could challenge the traditional, rather continue delivering on the once atypical, while delivering "a title uniquely Atlus."
- Hashino feels that Persona is no longer niche, as it once was - and that challenging the Fantasy genre with "Warm Innovation" will be different from current norms.
- The Elf Knight in the primary illustrations is meant to share Studio Zero's "frame of mind" and "isn't necessarily the protagonist either."
- A 'High Concept' Teaser has been released - communicating the goals of Project Re Fantasy.
- Likewise, Shoji Meguro has already composed music for the title, available for listening here.
- An official website is available at rpg.jp.
- In addition to regular development work (PC), Hashino has begun playing Tabletop RPGs, taking inspiration from the role of a Game Master and how it differs from a video game RPG. (A GM system will not be implemented in Re Fantasy, but Hashino is developing the game while thinking of himself as a Game Master.)
- First time working on a Fantasy Game, but was introduced to the genre with D&D.
- No subversive flourishes this time - dragons will be dragons, knights will be knights, etc.
- Soejima wants to focus on fine details, such as the texture of armor plating, details of sword scabbards, and so on.
- Soejima keeps different things in mind depending on the title. For Project Re Fantasy, this thought is "The feeling of a foreign country."
- Soejima aims to give the game "the inherent appearance of an RPG, with elements that give it a tangible sense of being a TRPG."
- Set in a Fantasy World (Obviously) "without machines as a rule."
- Story Focuses include "Bonds" & a "Journey." (Likely founded in the initial concept for Persona 5, which was a backpacking trip around the world.)
- Hashino wants to explore the conflicts between different races that stem from a journey, and the growth that they bring. Hashino also wants to embody the sense of freedom that fantasy worlds have.
- There will be races outside of humans & elves.
- Rather than a main character that is in a stage before adulthood, Hashino aims to create the image of a "different kind of protagonist (player)."
- While the Persona series was set in the limited timeframe of High school, the Bonds present in Project Re Fantasy are "Once-in-a-lifetime encounters" - and while they will come in a completely different shape, Hashino believes that the encounters in Project Re Fantasy will be familiar compared to those in the Persona series.
- Instead of focusing on Internal/External conflicts of Idea & position like Persona & Shin Megami Tensei, Project Re Fantasy's theme instead focuses on the concepts of going on "a Journey - the concept of taking yourself away from the place you are used to now" and "travel - returning there after a long period of time."
- "Thinking about what it really means to cherish & travel are reasons behind this theme."
- Bonds in the game will be "comparable to the bonds represented in the Persona series" but because the game is Fantasy, there will be elements that change. (Though "the style itself will not change at all")
- Hashino is playing through the original Wizardry and reading through the entire Lord of the Rings series to prepare for development.
- Hashino also hopes to explore the concept of "Anxiety" in a setting that is more relatable globally.
"Different from the studio that continue to work on series such as Persona and Megaten, Studio Zero is where we reconfirm the meaning of our existence from the starting point and once again begin a new challenge. Returning to our creative roots, we decided to establish this new studio as a starting point to create for all platforms as the big counter the current era requires. The participating staff that gather at this studio have, over the course of Atlus RPGs so far, are volunteers that have worked hard together and produced gameplay of value. What kinds of things will happen in the future? Please look forward to it."
- Studio Zero's logo is a boy on a journey with his dog. The 0 represents "Fool" in a tarot deck.
- The purpose of Studio Zero is to tackle creating new IPs for Atlus, while Studio One (1st Production) focuses on SMT and Eterian Odyssey, and P-Studio focuses on Persona & Shin Megami Tensei.
- Hashino has left P-Studio in order to helm Studio Zero.
- Currently the staff of Studio Zero are listening to the soundtrack of Legend of Zelda.
- Studio Zero recently held a study group to analyze (and play) D&D in order to learn more about Tabletop RPGs.
Sources (Massive thanks to Persona Central for all the translations & coverage)