Metaphor: ReFantazio

Metaphor: ReFantazio Developer Interview Breaks Down Atlus’ Newest RPG

Atlus has published an interview with Studio Zero, the team working on Metaphor: ReFantazio, and it details what players can expect when it launches.

In the developer interview, Studio Zero — director Katsura Hashino, character designer Shigenori Soejima, and composer Shoji Meguro joined to discuss their latest project revealed at the Xbox Games Showcase last week.

Metaphor: ReFantazio

“Although it’s taken quite some time, we’re excited to share something tangible for Project Re Fantasy. Many people think of Shin Megami Tensei or Persona when they think of the two largest RPG franchises by Atlus. With this game, we wanted to build a third pillar for the studio by crafting a large-scale epic fantasy RPG, something we’ve never done before.”  director Katsura Hasina says.

“Atlus has always focused on modern storytelling because we always felt there are plenty of fantasy RPGs in the world, whereas contemporary RPGs were less common. At the time, this was our way of going against mainstream trends and defining our unique perspective and voice as a studio,” continues Hasina.

According to the team, the goal was to rethink how they could make RPGs different from the ones already available while still providing something fundamental, and that was the most challenging part, finding what fantasy means to the team.

Enter Metaphor: ReFantazio. When thinking about the themes explored by the Shin Megami Tensei or Persona titles, the stories centred on how people should live in the present.

Early in development, the team asked, “What are fantasy stories,” so they read many books to figure it out. One thing stood out — fantasy does more than immerse us in an empty world of fiction. “These worlds exist because we want something new, to reimagine something new,” Hasino reflects on the development period. “This explanation moved me.”

Studio Zero thought about combining the world; the team wanted something medieval with elements of a modern society that could be brought into the fantasy setting. We can see this in how characters are dressed with more current fashion trends from recent times mixed with older architecture.

Metaphor: ReFantazio‘s theme is facing your fears, whereas Persona games focus on meeting yourself. This was done as we all have our fears, and they can stop us in our tracks or propel us forward and depending on how we view it, they can push us out of our comfort zones.

In a separate video, Atlus posted, more details were provided on what to expect from the project.

Host Mafia Kajita and Tomomi Isomura provided new information regarding Atlus’ newest RPG.

The language used in-game is Esperanto and is used in the music, and the game’s title was partially derived from it. You’ll travel this fantasy world in an armoured tank to gather supporters to become the king. Elections are essential, and as shown in the trailer, shake everyone’s hand to gain their trust. Some locals will need to be coerced into joining your side, so you’ll be helping them out. We also learned there are multiple races of inhabitants, and we’ll meet them on our travels.

Archetypes will be introduced in-game and use Carl Jung’s collective unconscious theory, a core of personalities, to put it simply. The human personality can be divided into several categories, one is Persona, and the level above is Archetype. One of the developers on the stream hinted at being able to transform your character but sidestepped the hosts’ questions.

Regarding the art style, Studio Zero wanted to make everything shown look like a painting with an air of darkness around it; this is how the team wanted to approach a fantastical world.

Character designer Shigenori Soejima mentions Atlus’ entire identity was centred on the Persona series and that the team wanted an androgynous and heroic protagonist, “someone who looks like they are about to change the world,” and that they have a resolute gaze when looking at them.

“Another important character is Gallica, a fairy who accompanies the protagonist. Although she’s classically fantastical in many ways—and that was her core concept during development, too—in terms of actual character design, we gave her a more modern aesthetic. Once we figured out how Gallica looks, it informed us how all the other characters should look and feel, too. Although we still had to do a lot of exploring, Gallica gave us that initial creative momentum to continue the other characters’ design process smoothly.”

Composer Shoji Meguro joined the project because it allowed him to write songs he had never written. The core concept of scoring Project ReFantazio is “music used in religion,” Meguro wanted to fuse that with an RPG. To give it a unique twist, the score weaves hymns throughout and uses Buddhist prayers to define the experience.

“Although the game is still in development, and we’re working hard to polish everything we need to, we think this RPG represents the best of Atlus. We’re working very hard to live up to the faith our fans have in us. To everybody looking forward to experiencing this game, I hope you enjoy the amalgamation of my hard work.”

We’ll report back as more information is made available.

Metaphor: ReFantazio launches on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, and PC in 2024.