Tomorrow, developer KEIZO and publisher WhisperGames will release ASTLIBRA Revision Gaiden: The Cave of Phantom Mist for Steam. ASTLIBRA Revision Gaiden is an expansion for ASTLIBRA Revision which we’ve covered quite a bit on the site. If you aren’t familiar with it, read Shaun’s 4.5/5 review of the Switch version here. We also included it in our best hidden gems of 2023 on Switch article and as one of the best indie games of last year for Switch. Ahead of tomorrow’s DLC launch, I had a chance to talk to developer KEIZO about the upcoming expansion, the game itself, working with Steam Deck, console ports, a physical release, and more.
TouchArcade (TA): Tell us a little bit about yourself.
KEIZO (K): I’m a company employee who creates games as a hobby while working.
TA: I discovered ASTLIBRA Revision through a lot of praise from a friend in the media. After playing it, I was blown away on Steam Deck. I ended up making quite a few friends buy it. The game felt too good and huge for the asking price. I wanted to know how the journey for you has been from over a decade in development to launching back in late 2022.
KEIZO: At first, I created the game for my own enjoyment. (The earliest record dates back to 2007, but I likely started even earlier.) Back then, there weren’t many games available, so if you wanted to play, you had to make them yourself. Upon completing Chapter 1, I began sharing it on my personal website and continued updating at a pace of one chapter every two years. It was completed in 2021 and released as a free game.
Due to the long development period, many of the creators who created the material I used were no longer traceable, making it impossible to confirm the commercialization of the game. Therefore, I decided to release it as a free game, with no plans for commercial release at the time.
After releasing it as a free game, I received interest from WhisperGames, a game publisher, who provided development funding to resolve the material issues. In 2022, it became a full version as a revision and was released.
TA: ASTLIBRA Revision debuted on PC but recently released on Switch. We featured it in many of our Game of the Year lists. Did you always plan to bring it to Switch?
KEIZO: All aspects related to sales are handled by my publisher WhisperGames, and we had planned to proceed with porting to various platforms according to their strategy.
TA: Before getting to ASTLIBRA Gaiden, I wanted to ask a few more questions about ASTLIBRA Revision. ASTLIBRA Revision was amazing on Steam Deck almost from the start. How much work went into ensuring it played great on Steam Deck?
KEIZO: ASTLIBRA is written in C++ and utilizes a library that serves as a wrapper for DirectX functions. I reached out to the developer of this library, who later joined the development team. Thanks to his involvement, we were able to smoothly adapt ASTLIBRA for compatibility with Steam Deck.
TA: ASTLIBRA Gaiden looks very ambitious, but Astlibra Revision was already a massive experience. Will Astlibra Gaiden feature any mechanics you couldn’t add to Astlibra Revision?
KEIZO: The style system is a unique feature present only in Gaiden. Also, in ASTLIBRA Revision, I believe the gameplay experience during battles was somewhat limited. However, in Gaiden, players can choose a slightly more varied play style.
TA: Will ASTLIBRA Gaiden be approachable for those who haven’t finished ASTLIBRA Revision yet?
KEIZO: In fact, Gaiden existed before the main storyline, so players can enjoy its content without needing to know about the main storyline up to the first ending. After that point where the story enters another stage, I believe the enjoyment would be heightened by completing the main storyline first.
TA: What should fans expect from the story in ASTLIBRA Gaiden?
KEIZO: Since Gaiden focuses mainly on battles, the storyline is relatively compact. However, as it tells the standalone story of a different character, players can expect to experience it with entirely different emotions.
TA: In a lot of ways, ASTLIBRA Revision felt like it had 2-3 games worth of content in one polished package, but the asking price felt too low to me. How did you decide the price point for Astlibra Revision and the upcoming ASTLIBRA Gaiden DLC?
KEIZO: The price has been determined by my publisher who’s responsible for things related to sales, and I believe that they made this decision based on various perspectives.
TA: When should Switch players expect ASTLIBRA Gaiden to release on the platform?
KEIZO: I anticipate it will be around 2 to 3 months from now, depending on Nintendo’s approval process.
TA: I adore ASTLIBRA Revision and would love to see a physical release with the Astlibra Gaiden. Are there any plans to do one and also bring the game and DLC to PS5 or Xbox?
KEIZO: I often receive requests for a physical version of the game. Actually my publisher is the one who makes decisions regarding this and expansion to other platforms. So, I’m just keeping an eye on how things go.
TA: What is your favorite aspect of all the positive impressions and reviews ASTLIBRA Revision has gotten? What aspect stood out to you the most from all the comments that you were happy to see players and media discover?
KEIZO: What made me happy was that many people understood the complex story of time travel. Also, I had thought that cultural differences between countries could lead to different interpretations and feelings, but it was rewarding to see people from many countries enjoying the game despite these differences.
One memorable aspect was the popularity of the character Karon, who’s referred to as the heroine.
TA: Should we expect more in the world of ASTLIBRA after ASTLIBRA Gaiden releases?
KEIZO: Since my hobby is creating whatever I feel like making at the moment, I’m not sure what I’ll be working on in the future. I might explore various other projects first, and then consider expanding the world of ASTLIBRA.
TA: ASTLIBRA Revision is one of the few games on Steam with such a high percentage of positive reviews. How important has word of mouth been from players and player feedback for you?
KEIZO: Seeing many people enjoy the game really brings me great joy as a creator, and it will serve as motivation for my future works. That’s why I consider reviews to be extremely important.
However, I feel like feedback can sometimes sway the direction of my creative vision, potentially causing it to deviate from my original stance of making what I personally enjoy. To avoid this, I try not to place too much importance on them.
TA: Before ASTLIBRA Gaiden releases, is there anything you’d like to say to ASTLIBRA Revision fans and newcomers?
KEIZO: Among the vast array of games out there, I truly appreciate you dedicating your time to playing this long game. Thank you so much for that. In this regard, the story of Gaiden is crafted to offer a lighter gaming experience, and I hope you enjoy it with a different vibe compared to the main storyline.
TA: This might be unlikely, but are there plans to bring ASTLIBRA Revision to mobile?
KEIZO: I believe it would be quite challenging to bring it to a state where it can be enjoyed given the constraints of text size and the amount of necessary information, so most likely it won’t happen.
TA: What were your favorite games of 2023 and what are you currently playing?
KEIZO: I didn’t have much time to play games, but out of the two I managed to play, my favorite is Diablo 4. Currently I’m playing a game called Harvestella.
I’d like to thank KElZO and PR Hound for their time and help with this interview.