When I walked into the press conference for acttil — the new company by former NIS staffers Jack Niida, Hiroko Kanazashi, and Nao Miyazawa — I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd been told this would be a presentation for a new game IP that was about to hit Kickstarter, but nothing else.
As it turns out, Reborn is already well into development and looking really good. Originally envisioned as a side-scrolling action game similar to Ninja Gaiden, the first version apparently looked so nice that indie developer Franz Tissera was given a professional dev kit just to see what his team, Elemental Labs, could do with it. The results look something like this:
Reborn is aiming for a major cross-platform release, and has graphics to match. Mr. Tissera spent a lot of time speaking of things like high-definition character models, motion-capture, and the background designs, all with good reason. With names like House of Moves and George Hull backing it up, there's lots to be proud of.
This is an action RPG that combines a good deal of Japanese history and lore circa the feudal period, and mashes it together with a cyberpunk Tokyo in the late 22nd century. The hero is Miyamoto Musashi, though the question of whether he's the actual Musashi, a reincarnation, a clone, or just someone who likes the name went unanswered. And I did make sure to ask. Mr. Tissera really wanted to say it too, but couldn't spoil the surprise. He was bouncing with restrained enthusiasm, though.
One of the stated themes is how Musashi's personal sense of integrity, honor, and discipline clash with the sensibilities of Neo Tokyo, which find such ideals to be superfluous. Who needs discipline, after all, when prestigious augmentations can be gained simply by paying for them?
Combat is set to have a lot of variety, with unarmed combat differing significantly from armed, and elemental focus attacks helping clear the way. Special weapons found throughout the game possess special attacks by virtue of the souls of their former owners — but Musashi has to bring closure to those spirits before he can wield that power. Finally, a chaining mechanic allows several powerful attacks to be used successively. Add in the ability to augment pretty much every piece of equipment, and it sounds even better.
Attitude helps change things as well. The player can be as stealthy as he likes, or go around carving things right and left. The game is supposed to pay attention to playing style and respond appropriately.
As of now, Reborn has five areas completed out of a target number of twenty, with each area reportedly taking fifteen minutes to traverse on foot. We saw cyberpunk cityscapes, lush forests, and neo-traditional Japanese temples over the course of the presentation. A lot of work has been put into creating mood and atmosphere with music as well. Mr. Tissera's enthusiasm is powerful and infectious, and I've little doubt he'll push this through come hell or high water. The Kickstarter will just get him there a lot faster.