This trailer doesn’t look like a huge deal. It looks more like a small, experimental game being published by Square Enix. It’s bigger than any other Square Enix game in years, and more than Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Final Fantasy 16 or Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s all because of Hiroyuki Ito.
Ito has been with Square Enix since 1987 and his entire career. I don’t believe there is a Square Enix game developer with a better record than Ito. Ito rose from being a battle designer for Final Fantasy 4 to become the director of Final Fantasy 6. He is second only to Hironobu Sakaguchi, the series creator. Ito was able to direct Final Fantasy 9 a few more years later. He also co-directed Final Fantasy 12, when it was in serious trouble.
Ito disappeared from Square Enix’s bowels after 2006. He accumulated a lot of battle system credits over 15 years. Ito would never direct another game. Square Enix wouldn’t announce it on Fridays two weeks before the release. We are here: Dungeon Encounters is a dungeon crawler on PC, PlayStation, and Switch. It will be available October 14.
Dungeon Encounters is a strange looking game. The game is directed by Nobuo Uematsu and features music by Nobuo Umatsu. However, the trailer shows that it’s a low-budget, low-budget game. It looks almost like a crossword puzzle. Combat isn’t animated but there are some nice illustrations. This is a dungeon crawler that’s best suited for those who like numbers and puzzle design but don’t care much about presentation.
Dungeon Encounters feels like a personal project. Square Enix was able to devote the minimum amount of resources necessary to publish it, but I’m happy to see Ito’s name on a new game. Although he was the director of the most successful Final Fantasy games, his other design credits show that he has always been a specialist in game and battle system design. He is credited with the creation of Active Time Battle. It seems that he is very fond of games that only focus on the numbers.
Square Enix may be trying to be more flexible by allowing smaller, less expensive RPGs to see if they work. Yoko Taro’s Voice of Cards, another example, is due out soon. Dungeon Encounters art will make it difficult to sell at $30. But maybe the pen-and paper crowd will help it fly.