While Square Enix has focused on Western-themed titles in recent years, the studio's newest subsidiary will help it get back to its roots by focusing on RPGs.
In recent years, Square Enix has become as much known for its popular Western-developed franchises like Hitman and Tomb Raider as it has for its traditional fare: Japanese role-playing games. Even though the majority of the publisher’s subsidiaries now develop Western-focused titles, it appears Square Enix is still very much invested in its RPG roots. Project Prelude Rune, a working title for a new IP from a new Square studio, is the latest example of this dedication.
“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,” Square Enix said in a press release. As for studio-wide goals: “The aim of the studio is to provide unforgettable stories that will inspire players in their own lives, and bring new game experiences to everyone around the world.”
Hideo Baba will produce Project Prelude Rune and serve as head of Studio Istolia, a name that stems from the Greek word “story.” Previously, Baba’s 20-plus year career in the industry was spent exclusively at Bandai Namco. He is best known for leading production of numerous entries in the Tales series dating back to Tales of Destiny, as well as helming the PS3 RPG Eternal Sonata. Tales of Bersteria was released earlier this year, marking the first mainline Tales entry since 1996 without Baba in a lead role.
We don’t know anything about Project Prelude Rune at this time besides a few pieces of concept art displayed on the official Studio Istolia website.
Studio Isolia sounds a bit similar to Tokyo RPG Factory, a Square Enix subsidiary founded in 2015 to exclusively develop RPGs. Last year, Tokyo RPG Factory released I Am Setsuna, a role-playing game that harks back to old-school RPGs. Another Square Enix RPG, Project Octopath Traveler, is in development for Nintendo Switch.