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Project Athia: Everything we know about Square Enix's new mystery game

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Luminous Productions, a studio formed from the Final Fantasy 15 development team, has unveiled Project Athia, a working title for its debut game. But the team, still housed at Square Enix, isn’t making another JRPG – this is a story-led action game in a gorgeous fantasy world. 

Sony presented the game’s first trailer at the PS5 reveal event on 11 June. The video showed snippets of gameplay in ruined cities and cloudy mountaintops, and clips of the mysterious, fiery enemies you’ll battle. It also hinted at the story of the young woman at the heart of the game, without giving all that much away. 

No doubt we’ll find out more about it before the end of 2020, but for now, here’s everything we know about Project Athia.

What is Project Athia? 

(Image credit: Square Enix)

It’s an open-world action-adventure game set in a fantasy world filled with snowy peaks, dense forests and monsters that breathe fire. You control an agile young woman – we assume she’s Athia but we don’t know for certain – who’s exploring a “world not her own”. Expect both combat and platforming, and Luminous Productions promises it will be story-led. The tale will be “filled with beauty and dismay”. There’s a heavy emphasis on the natural world, with plenty of hints that you’ll be both playing with and fighting the elements throughout your journey.

The studio began life in March 2018, when Square Enix siphoned staff from the Final Fantasy 15 team into a separate group after the PC version shipped. Luminous, which is led by Final Fantasy 15’s lead programmer Takeshi Aramaki, handled the Stadia edition of Final Fantasy 15, but Project Athia is its first standalone game.

Project Athia trailer 

You can watch the first Project Athia trailer, shown off at the PS5 reveal event, above.  

What do we know about the Project Athia release date and platforms? 

Project Athia will launch on PS5 and PC. Sony has got the exclusive on the console front, so it won’t be coming to either Xbox One or the Nintendo Switch.

We don’t know anything about the release date. Most of the games showed off at the PS5 reveal event are due to come out in 2021, so that’s the earliest we should expect it.

Project Athia gameplay details

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The trailer reveals a few clues for what players will actually be doing moment-to-moment in Project Athia. The main character can run fast and leap great distances, crossing canyons by hopping between spires of rock. When she jumps, you can see grass stream from her feet mid-air, which suggests her abilities are somehow augmented by the ground beneath her.

The same theme applies in combat. The trailer shows her coming face to face with three wolf-like enemies, patches of orange light – possibly fire – showing through their wiry frames. The woman summons roots from the ground, which swallow one of the wolves. Again, the suggestion is that you’ll be harnessing the natural world to solve problems. 

The trailer shows much larger enemies too, including a giant, towering eye held up by what looks like a thick tree trunk, and a massive dragon-like creature. This doesn’t guarantee set piece boss battles, but it certainly suggests they’re likely.

Project Athia story details

(Image credit: Square Enix)

It sounds like the story will be central to Project Athia. So what’s the narrative all about? Luminous has revealed very little – but enough for us to make some educated guesses. Firstly, our hero is wearing sneakers that look suspiciously like a pair you’d find in the shops today. We also know she’s in a “world not her own”, so we might guess she’s been transported from our own world into a fantasy realm. But she doesn’t appear frightened. "She will rise” is one of the game’s taglines: our hero is going to be learning as she goes, and we’d expect a tale of personal growth. 

Other than that, we know very little. Luminous says that "truths will be questioned and devotions will be doubted”, and that Project Athia is “twisted, tempestuous, and forbidding”. We can’t make much of that, but we’re certainly eager to find out more. 

What we know is that the team writing the story is being led by Gary Whitta, who has written for, among other games, Prey and The Walking Dead. He also wrote the Denzel Washington film The Book of Eli. The Project Athia writing team comes from across “the worlds of film, tv, games, and fantasy literature”, he said on Twitter.

But what about Final Fantasy 16?

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Fans were hoping Square Enix would use the PS5 reveal event to show a first glimpse of the long-awaited Final Fantasy 16, after rumors swirled that the studio was preparing for an announcement. Instead, we got Project Athia. So what does that mean for the future of the Final Fantasy franchise? 

It’s hard to say, but likely: very little. Remember, this team was pulled off the Final Fantasy games, and are therefore unlikely to be leading any development of Final Fantasy 16. Some fans have theorised that Project Athia is Final Fantasy 16, just in an early form. But this is mere speculation, and Whitta, the lead writer, said the game is set in a “new universe”.

Project Athia news 

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Remember: so far, all we know about Project Athia comes from a single teaser trailer. We’ll get more clues when we see our first batch of gameplay footage, and no doubt the development team will whisper some details about the story – no spoilers of course – in interviews over the coming months. 

Whenever new information comes to light, we’ll update this page, so make sure you check back regularly for all the latest news.

Sam's gaming PC is literally held together with masking tape, and he bought his PS4 from a friend of a friend of a (dodgy) friend for a tenner. He wishes that games still had paper manuals, mainly so he could get the satisfaction of ignoring them. He grew up in Essex, and now lives in London.