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Astlibra: One Man Spent 14 Years Creating a JRPG Masterpiece

By Weilin Li
Nov. 1, 2022 updated 03:05

Astlibra Revision is an indie action RPG game released on October 13th, 2022. The game has an ancient graphic style, appearing like something that came out in the early 2000s. However, underneath is an amazing JRPG celebrated by players and industry professionals.

The project was started 16 years ago by a solo developer. Keizo is a busy Japanese office worker who didn't give up on his dream, even during the most difficult times.

The game's opening plot tells the story of how a male protagonist and his childhood sweetheart were separated in an attack. After waking, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place with Karon, a talking bird, and devoid of his memory. Immediately he sets off on an adventure.

Game graphics of Astlibra RevisionGame graphics of Astlibra Revision

The beginning of the game is quite mundane, but after a few weeks of in-game time, a rich worldview and comprehensive plot full of thoughtful twists slowly unfolds. Through Castlevania-style combat, players can complete the main quest and explore the dungeon. The 60-hour game time does not make clear how well this game captures the essence of all great JRPGs, but the over 95% positive review rate on Steam shows how much JRPG fans loved it.

Game graphics of Astlibra RevisionGame graphics of Astlibra Revision

In a recent interview with gaming media AUTOMATON, indie developer Keizo revealed his long development story.

It all started 16 years ago (around 2006); Keizo had a very strong interest in playing 2D action RPG games, but there were very few such games available at the time. So, he decided to make one himself.

At that time, he had no experience in game development, but that did not stop Keizo from devoting his spare time to developing Astlibra Revision. However, he did have to pause development twice when things became difficult.

Despite that, some beliefs kept him going, as he said, "I didn't want to waste what I had done. Because I developed the system first, I didn't want my previous work to go to waste."

Keizo has seen too many indie game projects that ended halfway. "On social media platforms, I saw more and more indie developers announcing their own development journey. But these games basically failed and weren’t finished. They gave up, and these were all vivid in my mind.

Game graphics of Astlibra RevisionGame graphics of Astlibra Revision

Astlibra was released as a free demo in February 2021. After that, an extra 1.5 years were spent making improvements by a professional team of renowned artists, including Shigatake, a founding member of Vanillaware. At the Tokyo Game Show, Astlibra was on stage with another famous indie game, Ruina's remake version.

After its release on October 13th, Astlibra Revision has been a notable success. Many Chinese players praised the game and recommended it to friends. Saying that the game heals them from the exhaustion of facing too many games.

Some players are calling Astlibra Revision their indie game of the year.

The most impressive review came from Shigatake, who said: The subtitle of the game "Proof of Living" is both the theme of the work and the proof that Keizo is living a real life.