Your first impression of Astria Ascending will probably be that it’s a fantastical side-scrolling turn-based RPG that borrows several cues from the likes of Final Fantasy. The character designs, the music, and even the game’s logo all lead you to believe that the seminal RPG series is a core influence. You’d be right, and there’s a reason for that.
Kazushige Nojima, who has been with the franchise as a scenario writer since the original Final Fantasy 7, is currently working on the wave of new stories in that universe with Remake, Ever Crisis, and First Soldier. He’s also the scenario writer for Astria Ascending. Hitoshi Sakimoto, who helped compose the music for Final Fantasy XII and Tactics, is lead composer on this new game as well, lending his talents to building a whimsical world through music. (And you also may recognize the distinct character designs of Akihiko Yoshida, who’s done artwork for much of Final Fantasy and Nier).
But what is Astria Ascending? It’s important to note that its core development is in the hands of Artisan Studios, a French-Canadian team that focuses on 2D RPGs. Artisan’s first game was Super Neptunia RPG, and you can definitely see where Astria Ascending’s presentation style comes from. But this new game’s story is said to be a mature one, where adult heroes take on the responsibility of protecting an illustrious world called Orcanon. Director Julien Bourgeois says that the goal was “to explore how people cope in extraordinary times,” and that “each hero has their own perspective, but it’s the relationships they form with one another that truly bring the story to life.” With this collaboration between Artisan and a few big names in the JRPG space, you can imagine there’s more prestige expected in Astria Ascending.