I’m not normally in a rush to post marketing videos in which developers talk about how great their new game is, but I need all the help I can get in understanding Metaphor: ReFantazio. The new RPG from the makers of Persona looks stylish, dense, exciting, and almost entirely baffling in its trailers, so 14 minutes of the folks from Atlus just describing it is welcome.
Here’s the video:
The video above features character designer Shigenori Soejima, director Katsura Hashino and composer Shoji Meguro, all of whom previously worked on Personas 3, 4 and 5.
Metaphor: ReFantazio seems to feature many of the core ideas of the Persona series – turn-based battles, party customisation, a character affinity system – but puts them to different uses in a new high fantasy world. For example, you’ll still form relationships with characters you meet, but those bonds can lead to your protagonist being inspired and thus unlocking a new archetype, a combat form they can then use during fights, such as “Warrior” or “Knight”.
There are plenty of differences in combat, too, as players can choose for themselves whether to engage an enemy in a turn-based “command battle” a la Persona or whether to whack at them in a real-time fight. The latter is designed specifically for enemies you deem as lower level than you, so you can dispatch them quickly and not waste time.
The story takes place in a kingdom where the king has recently died, prompting a magical election through which anyone can become the next king if they become the most popular person in the land. Hey, it beats divine right. You’ll be travelling around trying to raise support in said election. Magic also impacts other parts of the world, with characters able to utilise it via tools that you have to purchase – although there seems an obvious twist teased in the video.
I’m already enamoured by the idea of competing for popularity in a fantasy, magical, royal election, but there’s plenty more touched upon in the footage above that is simlilarly appealing. Those land boats you’re riding around on, for example, are actually called Gauntlet Runners, and were designed by Neon Genesis Evangelion mech designer Ikuto Yamashita.
Metaphor: ReFantazio got a new trailer last week during The Game Awards, which made it look great while also giving me little concrete to say about it other than that it’s due out in autumn 2024. Thank goodness I now have a few more paragraphs of exposition.