A new Kickstarter project has appeared, and this one is a little different from other video games that have appeared on the site. Called Project Phoenix, it's a JRPG with a squad-based real time strategy battle system that seeks to combine the best of East and West game development. In fact that's exactly who is behind the game, as some of the top names in video games, music, art, sound, and voice work from across the globe are involved. There's director and producer Hiroaki Yura (Diablo III and Valkyria Chronicles), game designer Vaughn Smith (L.A. Noire), lead composer Nobuo Uematsu (basically every Final Fantasy), and dozens more. It's a ton of talent, but what is Project Phoenix about?
Project Phoenix's story features clans of orcs that have come down from the mountains and begun raiding without regard. Free men from the south have supposedly returned with far greater organization than the past, and whose goal is to defeat the Empire. The elves believe a certain star signals a time of change, where the fate of everyone in the world of Azuregard will be decided. Amidst all this turmoil is paladin Marcus Stern, who meets an angel with amnesia, Ruffles, the elven princess Sylrianah, and Zarum the Lost. These four form "an unlikely bond" as they try to discover their place in the world and potentially even save it from itself.
Three modes are present in Project Phoenix: Exploration, Combat, and Character Advancement. The first means you travel across the realms of Azuregard, meet new races, characters, and obtain superior equipment. Each new location you discover allows you to equip local garb and experience the culture. The best part is there's no grinding required to get to new areas, so you can explore along at your own pace without worrying about getting that next level. The developers are making sure each new town or city you journey to has plenty of interesting characters and reason to stick around.
Combat is composed of story battles and random battles. Story battles are, obviously, designed to help progress the story, while random battles are "dynamic combat scenarios" that can occur during the story but typically when exploring areas without any story content (like revisiting an older town). Random battles are available whenever you like, too, so there's no extra burden with them. Battles are fought with a point and click system, with abilities using either mana or stamina. Tactical play and different heroes play a role in the battles, so you'll need to take into account factors like terrain and threat management to prevail. Below is a concept of what looks to be a battle.
As for character advancement, each character has their own class, style, abilities, and equipment, with no major concerns over which character gets a new piece of armor. Leveling up automatically improves character stats and abilities, with a talent system in place so players can customize their role. Completely customizable heroes are also being considered, so when you recruit them on your journey you can modify them however you'd like.
There's plenty more to go over about Project Phoenix, but suffice it to say this is one JRPG that could be for everybody. Project Phoenix launched with a $100,000 goal, which was soundly broken in about nine hours. The first stretch goal is at $300,000, and it doubles the amount of character and monster models, as well as including more music from Nobuo Uematsu. The $650,000 stretch goal adds in those customizable characters and a detailed city system, with higher goals offering plenty more content. As for donating to Project Phoenix, a $20 pledge guarantees a copy of the game and beta access; $25 adds in alpha access; $50 adds the soundtrack, making-of documentary, and art book; and higher tiers include a lot more, like a Phoenix companion at $60, an extra copy of the game at $70, and the chance to design a character model, NPC, or hidden boss at $10,000.
Project Phoenix's Kickstarter runs until September 11, and since funding has already been reached, any extra money raised just means a lot more goodies can be added in. The game is slated to arrive on Windows, Mac, and Linux via Steam, with Android/iOS versions planned to release in June 2015. There's also a chance Project Phoenix will appear on the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, but developer Creative Intelligence Arts is still waiting for word on that. Project Phoenix is a single-player affair so far, but there are plans for mutliplayer and co-op if funding reaches an as-yet-unknown stretch goal.