RUNA: New Ambitious JRPG from Fennec Studio

May 20, 2024

Protagonist of a campaign that has managed to raise over 325,000 euros on Kickstarter, this ambitious JRPG made in Spain is generating buzz. Its appealing setting blends fantasy and science fiction in equal measure, adding polished turn-based combat and elements of social simulation. This is Runa, from Fennec Studios.

Source: Runa RPG Official YouTube Channel

The label “JRPG” (Japanese role-playing game) refers to RPGs specifically developed in Japan and has been used to differentiate these from other RPGs created in the West. With this in mind, we can say that this genre is characterized by deeply marked identity traits and widely recognizable features. However, in recent years, we have enjoyed many JRPGs created in the United States and Europe, such as Sea of Stars, Edge of Eternity, CrossCode, and Chained Echoes, among many others, all made by Western developers who grew up playing Japanese role-playing games and have sought to offer their particular love letter to the JRPG genre, achieving, in many cases, simply impressive products.

Following this trend is Runa, the new JRPG created by the Spanish indie studio Fennec Studio, based in Madrid, which has concluded a hugely successful Kickstarter funding campaign, initially aiming for 45,000 euros but reaching an impressive figure of over 325,000 euros; one of the most successful fundraising efforts in Spain, as far as we can recall in the platform’s history, at a time when the enthusiasm for supporting such initiatives has waned, one might say, and the public is somewhat more hesitant to embark on projects of this category. So… how did they manage to convince so many people to support them? Well, let’s see…

Runa‘s introduction is crystal clear: we’re talking about a role-playing adventure inspired by JRPGs, both timeless classics and modern ones, set in a universe that perfectly blends elements of science fiction and fantasy. It features strategic turn-based combat mechanics, which we can effortlessly recall as characteristic of many classic JRPGs, to which a social simulation component adds an interesting twist, all underpinned by a carefully crafted and elaborate narrative. Now, knowing all these factors as the “cover” of the project, it’s no longer so strange or difficult to understand why so many players might have decided to support this campaign, right?

The setting of Runa‘s story is Akasha, a land full of color and life, where “runes” represent the technological advances of an ancient civilization. These mystical artifacts are crucial, not only for combat but for life itself, applying their use to multiple contexts. However, it happens that only those known as “adepts” are capable of unleashing the true power of these “runes.”

It will be in our hands to guide a group of adventurers, each with different stories and deep pasts filled with varying motivations, with whom we must explore and uncover the hidden secrets of Akasha. The combat system we will use, called the Elemental Break System, is inspired by classic JRPGs and is based on the well-known turn-based battles, in which we can fight with up to four characters at a time, being able to swap team members at any point without losing our turn. The strategy will be based on elemental affinities, of which there are seven in total: fire, water, wind, electro, void, ether, and gravity. Each character will have their basic attack, which will align with one of these elements, and it will be necessary to explore and discover the enemies’ weaknesses to break their “elemental balance”, thus inflicting disadvantages and gaining additional turns.

In addition to combat, advancing in the story missions and exploring its beautiful world, we will have to build a base, creating and improving buildings gradually, and as we recruit certain characters or complete missions, we will unlock new facilities such as residences, canteen, dojo, laboratory, farm, rune research center, or antique shop, reminiscent of the classic Suikoden by Konami, or its recent spiritual successor, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Here we can enjoy some mini-games, such as fishing, farming, and cooking.

Runa is not a farming game, nor does it intend to be, but it does incorporate a social relationships system, which includes more than 15 romance options, including same-gender relationships, something we’ve seen in many games from both the East and the West (for now, Mass Effect and Dragon Age series by BioWare come to mind, for example). These multiple options will provide character progression enhancements, added to dialogues and exclusive scenes from each storyline.

As if all this weren’t enough, Runa features a day and night cycle, a complex and complete weather system with varied conditions, where we can see, enjoy, or suffer through things such as wind, rain, sun, storms, and snow. Moreover, it also operates under a “calendar” system (à la Persona), so some narrative moments will have a certain urgency. As a finishing touch, we can appreciate in the images that its graphic environment, developed in Unreal Engine 5, is simply fascinating.

As can be seen in its Kickstarter campaign, Runa is currently being developed by only three people, so we hope that, now that they have a more decent budget than initially, and even than their first goal, they can bring new developers into their payroll to grow the already promising team, which we know well is not easy to achieve. Now, having all this in mind, it is still too early to estimate a release date, window, or even year, so we must stay tuned for any possible information about this project, which, according to the members of Fennec Studio, would first come out on PC but would eventually reach PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles.

Your turn: Come on, be nice and drop by the comments to let us know your opinion on this new JRPG, will you? You know gamer, we’ll be reading! 😉

Info & Images Source: Vandal, Kickstarter, Reddit