Since its announcement last year, RPG fanatics have been eagerly anticipating the release of Atlus' upcoming title, Stella Deus. A few editors on our team got together to talk with the team at Atlus to uncover some more highlights...
Can you give us a general idea of some of Stella Deus’ features, such as...
- Will the game engine consist of a free-roaming overworld or a point-point map? Will enemy encounters be random? How will the map system work?
The overworld is a point to point map. Encounters are fixed to plot events, unless you wish to level up—then you can drop into the Catacombs of Trial to battle as much as you’d like. There is a date system (months and days) in place, so traveling from place to place takes a certain amount of time.
- What about level caps? Should we expect Disgaea-like level-building or a more traditional 99-max format?
Level building is the more traditional leveling up formula of most RPGs.
- Are there any particular elements in the battle engine that distinguish Stella Deus from other RPGs? (Example: The materia from Final Fantasy VII, gems from Growlanser)?
Besides special abilities and character-specific team attacks, the AP system allows players to move very strategically. Each character has a set number of points at the beginning of a combat round. Moving and attacking both decrease this gauge—but the player can keep on doing whatever they want until the meter is depleted. If a character is already standing toe-to-toe with the enemy, for example, they can expend all their AP to attack 3 – 4 times instead of just once.
- Will the game feature hidden characters/sub-quests/levels, etc?
Depending on the decisions the player makes throughout the game, secret characters and quests can become available. Also, taking on quests at the guild may open up hidden items or plot events.
Stella Deus looks as if its borrowed from other SRPGs, such as a team-up attack similar to the one seen in Disgaea? What games or elements (if any) played a major influence with the Stella Deus’ development? What about the unique art style and why was it selected?
[Answered by Pinegrow developers] The basic battle system has been improved based on “Hoshigami.” As for the team attacks, this has been existent in the SRPG genre for awhile. Therefore, there aren’t any specific titles that have we have borrowed ideas from.
As for influences on the artwork, movies have played a big part in the look of the game.
For instance, the metallic look and color contrast of items are an influence from “Lord of the Rings.” Certain characters and the textures of the 3D environments are influences from Miyazaki’s Anime.
We took a look at some recent video footage which suggests the art may be high-resolution. Can you confirm this, and is it cel-shaded?
The sprites are high-resolution artwork, as are the plot illustrations. The animated cinema sequences (such as the opening) are cel-shaded.
Are there any other notable additions which you comment on? For example, Breath of Fire eventually offered a fishing segment and Tales of Symphonia featured cooking. Might we see a similar side-feature in which characters can perform?
The quest system provides a nice change of pace from constant battles. Some quests involve finding an item, or figuring out which location you’re being summoned to. One such puzzling quest involves an Alchemist Entrance Exam. There’s also a battle arena quest to test your party’s skills.
Given the depth of Growlanser, we were disappointed that it lacked a professional guide. Can we expect to see a strategy guide accompany the game and if so, who is the publisher?
No details have been decided at this point.
During the translation process, have you encountered any content (i.e. religious or x-rated themes) that could be considered a cultural barrier and require editing?
Stella Deus is a fairly religious story, focusing on the fractured Aeque religion and the Overlord Dignus, who seeks to undermine its teachings. The player’s group treads the middle ground between these two ideologies. None of these themes were edited out or changed. Atlus USA seeks to give gamers the same experience that Japanese gamers would have had while playing Stella Deus.
Will you be offering any incentives to those who pre-order the game?
There are no preorder bonuses planned at this time.
Are they any plans for a major marketing campaign to generate more interest to the RPG audience?
A “box art poll” just closed at our website. This was a chance for Atlus fans to decide which art would be displayed on the box cover for Stella Deus.
Click here to read our preview for more information and here to glimpse our media page featuring the latest collection of artwork.
Special thanks to Andrew Calvin, Giscard "K1D" Hermelijn and Alex Vo for their contributions; and especially to Gail Salamanca and the entire Atlus USA team.