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Square Enix, the creators of such successful game franchises as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest have unveiled their new venture: Dia Horizon. So what’s this project Square Enix is putting so much hope into about?

Dia Horizon is quite the fast project—announced only in July, this project is a multimedia one with not only a smartphone game developed by Axel (not Square Enix) being released in August here in Japan and a TV anime premiering in October. It even has a web novel series and that is serializing right now (in Japanese, of course) Despite being a smartphone game, you can just smell the classic JRPG fragrance that floats off of this title: The swordsman who ran away from farm life to become an adventurer, the mysterious girl with a power that the naughty, naughty empire wants for themselves, the chipper fairy, the sexy female archer, the older swordsman who has been toughened by his many years of combat experience, etc. (Honestly, I feel like I’m looking at the roster of Ar tonelico II, but a different company made that.)

Dia Horizon revolves around Ryan (or whatever the user decides to make their handle name), a young man who left his home on the farm to become an adventurer. On his journey, he encounters Sophia, a girl who doesn’t know much about the outside world. The two youths live in a world in which the “Sea of the End” has been discovered, leading the world’s people to believe that there is no more land to be found on the planet. Because of this, adventuring has lost its meaning, and the world continues on without any large conflicts… or dreams for the unknown.

As a child, Ryan is told by his adventurer father that beyond the Sea of the End lies a new land of the gods: Seles. Ryan leaves on his journey not just to escape farm life, but also to follow in his father’s footsteps and attempt to cross the treacherous sea. Although it is common knowledge that no one has crossed it, Ryan believes with all his heart that his father has, and he holds the pendant made from a shard of “Sun Stone” as proof of his journey. It turns out that Sophia has a pendant almost exactly like Ryan’s, leading to many new questions.

However, before they’re able to discuss anything, they are ambushed by members of the “The Empire” (I haven’t gotten to a point where they actually name said empire) who are after Sophia because of the great powers she has hidden inside of her. Although she denies this, she forms a pact with Ryan with the power of the spirits that links their life forces together. With their life in a single pool, as long as some life energy collectively remains, all the other members of the pact will remain alive as well—no matter how much they are hurt. However, if the life energy pool is fully depleted, all members die.

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This concept actually links into Dia Horizon’s gameplay. In Dia Horizon, you make a party of five characters traverse a maze dungeon cut up into squares by flicking the screen to move. At certain squares of the dungeon, either treasure boxes or a horde of monsters will appear. The entire party shares one life bar and skill point meter during combat, meaning that if the life bar for the entire party goes down to 0, all members die, but they are always alive as long as that does not happen. When the boss is defeated, the stage is over. The story is progressed by selecting quests from a menu and completing them in order. There are side-missions as well, including boss raids and raw material hunts.

How do you get characters to join your party? With gacha, of course! Gacha in smartphone games are basically trading card packs with cards picked for you at random. You can take a shot at the gacha for free with stones you’ve collected, but you can use real world money to buy more. The many characters available to draw are each drawn by a variety of artists. Some of the characters include Quartz, a robotic girl made out of clocks, Laenora, an elf girl who left her home in the woods to explore the world, and Lance the… lance-wielder (do parents in this world also name their kids Chainsaw?). The characters are partially voiced, only making grunts and battle cries, but this game features some pretty prominent talent, including Takuya Eguchi (Mushibugyo), Rie Murakawa (Non Non Biyori), and Takahiro Sakurai (Code Geass).

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In order to power up these characters, you need to use money, as well as a number of raw materials that can be found after completing quests. Each character has one stat raised when they level up. Leveling up is done through the “power-up” menu where you select one stat listed on a ring surrounding the character to level up with. A character’s level limit can be broken if you get doubles of the same character at the gacha to be automatically added to the character’s “limit break” meter. You can also equip your characters with weapons and accessories to power them up, and guess what? There’s a gacha for that, too.

The game has just started, so there haven’t been any big events, but I’m interested to see in which direction this game will go. I’m also curious as to how the anime will adapt the world of Dia Horizon into animated form—and which characters will make it in the show and which will be left on the chopping block.

The Dia Horizon anime will premiere in October. The game has been released for iOS and Android in Japan, but there is no word on a Western release.

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