One of the more intriguing preview sessions I attended during gamescom was one for Harmonix’s Kinect-based music title Fantasia: Music Evolved. I knew little to nothing about this game going into the session so I was eager to discover how it was related to the Fantasia films and which Disney worlds we could expect to be featured in it.
The session was hosted by two Harmonix employees, one of whom talked about the game while the other demonstrated it running on a Xbox One. We were introduced to a snowy forest called The Haven which was filled with mysterious creatures that reacted in various ways to the player’s interactions. The player can step from side to side to pan the camera left or right, or raise their hand to manipulate a 3D cursor which can be used to interact with the game world. Once certain requirements have been met in a level, the player then enters a particle-filled black stage where they can move their upper body like a hyperactive composer to interact with the music being played. Fantasia: Music Evolved is designed to be a very casual experience which constantly entertains and rewards players, and thus they aren’t rated on their performance and can’t make music which sounds off-key. Furthermore, just as the Fantasia films were envisioned as a synergy between music and animation, Harmonix hopes that the game will take this concept to the next level by letting players interact with music by essentially animating their own bodies.
The game’s soundtrack is a mixture of classical, pop, classic rock and contemporary rock music and includes tracks such as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen and ‘Diamonds’ by Rihanna. Unlike many rhythm games where players simply mimic on-screen prompts, Fantasia: Music Evolved gives players the opportunity to express themselves by teaching them how to interact with music and then giving them the tools to get creative. Some of these tools include the ‘sound sketcher’ where players can draw a drum beat, and the ‘effects sculptor’ where players can use their bodies to add effects to one of the original or remixed songs from the game’s soundtrack.
We didn’t get to see any story elements during the presentation but were told that Fantasia: Music Evolved places the player in the role of Yen Sid’s new apprentice who is tasked with exploring and transforming magical worlds. I asked the presenter which Disney worlds would be featured in the game and he said that we should rather expect original environments since Disney is reluctant to license its popular properties to third-party developers.
The presenter also said that a team of 120 people are working on Fantasia: Music Evolved and that it might come to platforms other than the Xbox 360 and Xbox One in the future since it’s not an exclusive. Right now it appears that there’s still lots of work to do on the game since the Xbox One build we were shown seemed to have a hard time picking up the demonstrator’s actions via Kinect during the exploratory sequences in The Haven.
Fantasia: Music Evolved will be released for Xbox One and Xbox 360 during 2014. Head over here for El33tonline’s previous coverage of this fascinating fusion between player interaction and music.