What becomes antiquated will eventually become cool again. It happened to 16-bit sidescrollers and voxels, so why not pre-rendered backgrounds and world maps? The Black Tower is a love letter to PlayStation Japanese RPGs, currently developed by a three person team.
The Black Tower is only the second game designed by Simon Mesnard, who released Myst-like adventure game ASA: A Space Adventure in December. The project is currently a prototype that may blossom into a full release via crowdfunding, according to Mesnard. After all, three people can't easily make a game of this scale without taking a decade in development time.
The above prototype gameplay includes audio and visuals that aren't final but should give a good impression of how deep Mesnard's Final Fantasy VII fandom goes. To this day, I still admire pre-rendered backdrops, but I have to commend Mesnard for finding a clever way to produce the same effect on modern hardware. By layering high-poly backgrounds on low-poly foregrounds, The Black Tower offers a similar effect though backdrops are actual 3D renders that pan alongside player movement.
With all the praise we throw at Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger, it's encouraging to see someone pay tribute to them without turning to RPG Maker. The footage of The Black Tower lacks polish but is impressive, regardless. Here's hoping the three developers continue on in this massive endeavor. Follow the development on the game's blog.