Square Enix’s latest venture is the recently formed Studio Istolia, a collaboration between it and former Tales of Producer Hideo Baba. Baba, who will be acting as CEO and president of the new studio, left Bandai Namco after a decade of working on the Tales of series to make a brand new JRPG franchise tentatively called “Project Prelude Rune.”
The project aims to build a new RPG with a new fantasy: unfolding across a vast land teeming with life. Nurtured by the earth, the many peoples of this land dare to dream, fighting for what is just—and this is their tale.
Baba says that the word “Istolia” comes from the Greek for “story,” which is important to him for his goals of creating “unforgettable stories that will inspire players in their own lives, and bring new game experiences to everyone around the world.”
The studio is currently hiring for programmers and designers to make the game a reality. In the meantime, we have three pieces of concept art to drool over.
Similar roots as I Am Setsuna
Most Square Enix fans might not need a reminder, but the last time Square Enix created a studio and cranked a new IP out of it, we got I Am Setsuna from the hard workers at Tokyo RPG Factory. If this new studio can resonate with longtime fans the way that game did, then more power to Square Enix for taking all these risks.
I’m not the biggest fan of the Tales of games, though, and I always felt they were hindered by their overreliance on anime tropes and safe progression and combat design. I’m hoping that Baba can break free from his safety net with this game and really explore what he can do as a writer and producer. I’ve seen potential in his games to be great, but too many annoying hindrances and decisions often hold them back.
With Square Enix, a company that seems a lot more interested in taking risks with JRPGs than Bandai Namco, maybe he’ll find a better atmosphere to thrive in. No platform has been confirmed yet, but a man of Baba’s recognition will no doubt command the biggest and the best on a home console.
Best of luck to the new studio, and I hope that Tokyo RPG Factory gets its second chance to shine soon as well.