On Saturday at TGS, I had the opportunity to speak with Julian Bourgeois of Kobojo and try the demo for the developer's upcoming RPG, Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey. I somehow missed this game's earlier build presentation at TGS 2014, but this was the perfect time to get acquainted.
First of all, this is no small production we're looking at. Kobojo has members in Paris and Scotland, as well as some big name collaborators in Japan. Kazuhige Nojima, who wrote for Final Fantasy VII did a lot of work on the plot and narrative, while composer Hitoshi Sakimoto was semi-accidentally recruited during a back-stage visit to a Final Fantasy music concert to help with the soundtrack.
Unfortunately, the noise from the Bandai Namco booth kept me from enjoying that last one too much, but what I could hear did sound nice.
Mr. Bourgeois is actually a long-time reader of the site, and credits the Final Fantasy series, Valkyrie Profile, and Vanillaware as major inspirations. With that in mind, it shouldn't be a surprise that this game has 2D scrolling exploration and turn-based battles. In the demo, the heroes were in hot pursuit of a fugitive, a feared radical of the reptilian Geckal race who had just escaped from prison. To make it cooler, they were riding a gryphon to do so. The fugitive's status as villain was somewhat in doubt, as his fellow Geckals were loudly proclaiming his innocence against all the ugly charges the royal government had claimed. Words like betrayal and conspiracy popped up frequently, giving some hint to racial and political tensions behind the scenes. Still, the reptilians were definitely up to something, because innocent people don't normally breed rattlesnake-dragon hybrids for battle.
The combat menu was easy enough to use, with a simple tap or drag to select options. What was missing was some explanation for what the buttons did. For the most part, attack icons were clearly identifiable for what they were, but the specific details for each action were left to the player to figure out. Some hit multiple times. Others added status effects. Several had cooldown periods in place of an MP system. The protagonist also had the singular ability to switch job classes in mid-battle, changing into a wizard or alchemist. Why this was so, that wasn't explained, but I was assured it was a major plot element.
The demo was short and straightforward, though I was told that there would be far more complicated levels to navigate in the full version. Likewise, the main character has more potential job classes, though several will only be available with updated chapters to the iOS version, which releases next month in Europe and the US. The Japanese release will have to wait until next year, but it coincides with the launch PS4 and PS Vita editions, which will include the iOS version plus all of the chapter updates collected into one edition. Unfortunately, the Vita version wasn't quite ready to demo at TGS, so I can't say anything about how that plays, but the videos they played instead were quite satisfactory.