Bandai has announced .hack, a new episodic RPG for PlayStation 2 developed by Cyber Connect. The company also plans to simultanously release a .hack anime in Japan. Designed by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame, the game's development team also boasts the screenwriter of Ghost in the Shell, Kazunori Ito, as the scenario writer and animation director Koichi Mashimo, known for his work on Popolocrois Monogatari.
We are living in the year 2007 and more than 20 million people are busy playing an online dungeon-hacking game called The World. While normally users slay monsters in this game, all of a sudden the virtual beasts strike back. Hence you could say we are talking about a game within the game .hack here. Faced with that dilemma, you resume control of the game's main character Kite, who luckily possesses the "data drain" ability, which allows him to manipulate The World's source code in order to help others. He will be joined by Black Rose, the female lead, Helva, Orcu, Aura and Elku.
On the one hand .hack is a pretty standard RPG involving dungeons and semi real-time battles; on the other, the player will get the feeling he is participating in playing The World. While Kite fights his way through the billions of bytes that make up the game, in the actual game he encounters NPCs that behave like human players.
The first episode of .hack will be available in Japan sometime in June. You can choose between the standard version of the game, which will retail for 3,800yen (28.20USD) and a special edition bundle, featuring both the first episode of the game and anime for 5,800yen (43.05USD).
The series will feature four episodes, which will be released bi-monthly. Below you will find the episodes' names:
Volume 1 .hack Infection Expansion
Volume 2 .hack Malignant Mutation
Volume 3 .hack Erosion Pollution
Volume 4 .hack Absolute Encirclement
In the meantime you can check out the first screenshots and pieces of artwork.