It’s dioramas meet Final Fantasy. That’s the first takeaway from Fantasian, a new game from Mistwalker, the studio responsible for the Blue Dragon series and The Last One.
According to the early teaser and a few comments made in a Polygon interview by studio founder (and RPG legend) Hironobu Sakaguchi, Fantasian appears to fuse those Japanese role-playing tropes of airships, mysteries and magic with, er, handcrafted dioramas. Characters and the rest of the game are then overlaid on these fully detailed, rotating scenes.
Each of these scenes — there will be over 150 of them — were crafted by artists from Japan's “Tokusatsu” movie industry, some of whom worked on the Godzilla films, Attack on Titan, and Ultraman. Those cities that get crushed underfoot by giant monsters? Someone had to make those. The game will also feature music by Nobuo Uematsu, who also composed the soundtrack to some of the most popular Final Fantasy games in the series.
The big departure might be how you deal with random encounters, an RPG feature epitomized in Sakaguchi’s own Final Fantasy series and other JPRGs like Dragon Quest. While you can still be distracted by the occasional random battle, you can also simply pocket them in an alternate dimension (the “dimengeon”), and tackle an entire mob later down the line. There appears to be a limit as to how many enemies you can avoid before having to deal with them in one fell swoop, but it’s a nice way to be able to focus on exploration or story, and keep battles available when you’re ready for a big fight.
The battles otherwise appear to be turn-based, with attacks able to affect multiple enemies and locations. Your characters seem to pack the usual combination of HP and MP, and battles tease a system of guarding and buffs to complicate things further.
While the game doesn’t have a release date yet, it’s coming soon to Apple Arcade, apparently exclusively. Sakaguchi was featured in Apple Arcade's developer teaser, back in March 2019.