GGUK hop on their Griffin to get some hands-on time with Zodiac.
GirlGamers UK were invited to Dundee for a special presentation and hands-on preview of the highly anticipated upcoming Japanese RPG, Zodiac by Kobojo, a private company founded in 2008. Zodiac will be a free-to-play 2D turn-based combat role-playing game for iOS and PlayStation Vita. With names such as Kazushige Nojima and Hitoshi Sakimoto involved with the project, and similarities with epic titles such as Dragon’s Crown, Final Fantasy, or Odin Sphere, there is a lot of interest in Zodiac.
And looking at the game in action, it is easy to see why there is such interest. The world of is beautiful and looks incredible with 2D hand drawn animation and environment. GGUK were given the chance to explore this stunning fantasy world on the iPad with a light alpha version of the title.
As it was a very early version of the game, there is plenty that could still change before the game is released. However, from what we saw and played, game-play sees the player’s character taking to the air, mounted on the back of a majestic Griffin, on a journey through a fantasy world once ruled by powerful gods. An epic storyline will carry the game forward, while engaging with the various enemies will have the player involved in turn-based combat.
In the demo which was available to us, we had the choice of a few different character classes from the 12 classes that will be available in the full game. Each character can gain XP, gold and SP in each battle. My objective at the beginning of the short demo was to find and collect seven hidden children in the dark caverns and surrounding environment. As you’re flying through the environment, there are various items to collect and harvest, and a crafting system will be in place. There will be weapons, items and consumables available, and each dungeon has its own difficulty level.
When it comes to combat, the players party is set opposite a group of enemies, and the battle progresses in a turn-based manner. Each character has a variety of different attacks, from basic to heavy, individual to area effect, with different outcomes and cooling down periods. The battles can take anywhere from two to four minutes, depending on the enemies or bosses you are facing, which makes the game ideal for gaming on the go.
If you are dealt damage within the game, a simple tap on the screen administers a healing potion to replenish your life. If you die, you’re then transported back to the most recent check point to restart your journey. Icons are positioned on the bottom of the screen to indicate which of your characters has been dealt damage in the form of a small square that fills up red. Once filled, your character is K.O, unless you have some healing potions on hand. From what I gathered from Kobojo, Zodiac does not have a flee option at the time of the demo, so there was no way to run away or escape from oncoming enemies. Whether there will be this feature or if this will be a skill to be unlocked, Kobojo has yet to say.
There is no spoken narrative in this beautiful animated adventure, but Kobojo informed us that this was down to memory constraints. Kobojo also described the localization is still being defined by Apple, and with 200 pages of Japanese dialogue, it’s a lengthy process. During my demo I noticed you could also send items to other players asynchronously, so there is social connection available. The leveling system can also be a shared experience between friends too.
The touch screen interactions seemed easy to understand, although at times in this early build they did seem a little slow and unresponsive. This is not unusual at this stage in development, and I am sure the controls will be tweaked before the games release.
Kobojo informed us that Zodiac will appeal to fans of games such as Final Fantasy and Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Zodiac has an adult story and Kobojo explained that Zodiac is 50% to 60% science fiction and 30% to 40% Asian high fantasy. The game will be filled with betrayal, death and an intriguing storyline with various plot twists along the way to keep RPG fans immersed. Kobojo estimate the initial story mode will take 10 to 12 hours in single player and intend to continue expanding on the game for several years to come. Kobojo want to release an expansion each year in the form of classes, quests and new areas to expand the experience for its players.
Kobojo intend to run a closed beta version in the next couple of months to get some feedback on the game. From what I’ve gathered from the development team, Zodiac has already had positive responses from anyone who has played it. My own early impressions of Zodiac have also been positive and I look forward to playing the game in full when it eventually launches later this year. With a talent-packed company working on each fine detail of the game, Zodiac certainly looks set to rock the RPG world.