Never-Before-Seen Art From the Canceled Final Fantasy, Fortress
By Alexa Ray Corriea on
A Peek Behind the Curtain
In 2009, Swedish developer Grin closed in doors. Months later, former employees revealed through online art portfolios and Linked In profiles that the company had been working on a Final Fantasy XII spin-off, codenamed Fortress.
The following gallery includes never-before-released artwork, sketches, and gameplay design documents from the canceled project.
Costume designs for Queen Ashe. Her headpiece was designed to look like that of her father, King Raminas, who was killed in the beginning of Final Fantasy XII. In addition to her royal garb, Ashe would wear a more functional suit for combat, including armor designed to invoke the outfit of Rasler, Ashe's husband who was also killed in Final Fantasy XII.
Designs for armor and a more casual, everyday suit for main character Basch. The armor on the left is close to the Judge armor used in Final Fantasy XII and Revenant Wings, while the outfit on the right more closely mirrors the clothing Basch wore in Final Fantasy XII.
A sketch of what soldiers would look like while mounted on Chocobos.
Sketches of what group combat would look like in Fortress. The bottom sketch shows an option for lighting effects.
3D concept art of an inner courtyard within the fortress. The structure was primarily designed after Western-style castles, and featured no elaborate ornamentation. The only large structures, such as gates and landing docks, were designed primarily for function and less for aesthetic purposes.
3D concept art of battlements within the fortress. In addition to looking ancient and dark, designers wanted the structure to feel ancient. The design of wide open courtyards, like the spaces shown here, were influenced by designs used by Square Enix in Final Fantasy XII. For example, one point of reference was the castle and city streets shown in the game's opening cutscene.
3D concept art of bridges and stairs in the inner parts of the fortress.
3D concept art of battlements within the fortress, including a look at the frozen sea and mountains beyond. The fortress gate would point north, with all other environments placed in the lower slopes or high snowy peaks to the south.
3D concept art of the outer courtyard of the fortress.
3D concept art of the upper level of the fortress, with a look at the courtyard below and sea beyond. In this high area of the fortress, there would be a small memorial garden in which players could learn more about the structure's history.
3D concept art looking out over the fortress' inner and outer courtyards.
3D concept art of the gate to the inner part of the fortress.
3D concept art of an inner courtyard entrance in the fortress.
3D concept art of battlements and hallways within the fortress.
3D concept art of an inner chamber within the fortress.
3D concept art of an aerial view of the full fortress. According to design documents, the overall look of the fortress was to be "dark and very serious" in nature and feel inaccessible on first glance.
3D concept art of an aerial view of the fortress and the sea from the building's highest level.
3D concept art of the fortress as viewed from the sea.
3D concept art of the fortress as viewed from the cliffs surrounding the structure.
Concept art of an encampment outside the fortress on the land side. Here players would be able to interact with troops, accept foraging quests, and so on.
A detailed look at possible aging for Basch, including more haggard and graying hair, wrinkles and worry lines.
Concept art of the villain Loemund in his final boss form, a giant electric squid, facing off against Basch.
Concept art of the fortress under attack from enemy forces. In this picture, enemy troops are using siege weaponry and seem to be standing on the frozen ocean.
Another piece of concept art looking at the fortress in color. Here, the ocean is still liquid and there is no attack. The floating core can be seen in the upper right corner, while each level of the fortress is visible.
Art depicting a moment in the story when the sea levels rises and waves crash against the fortress, flooded the first courtyard and slamming against the inner wall.
Color artwork of a boss fight featuring massive centipede-like creatures coming over the top of the fortress wall.
A look at the day/night cycle for Fortress. The top artwork shows the fortress at night, while the middle shows sunrise/sunset and the final picture shows the structure in full daylight.
Concept art of the desert environment near the fortress. This piece shows the entrance to a tomb built into a rocky cliffside. In this environment, players would be able to explore and hunt for resources to take back to the fortress. The idea with Fortress was to let the world transform around the player in order to offer varied environments, rather than picking the player up and transporting them to more and more new areas.
Concept art of a centipede enemy. These enemies would curl up into balls and be flung over the sides of the fortress using catapults. Once inside, they would uncurl and attack.
Concept art of enemy soldiers with helmets designed to resembled sea creatures, such as squid and angler fish. Enemy soldiers were designed to look "brutish" and "primitive," according to design documents. Their weapons would be primarily made of wood--driftwood--and iron.
An enemy tentatively called "manymen" that chants as it attacks. When attacked, manymen's limbs would split off to form more bodies, resulting in a smattering of smaller enemies rather than one bigger one. Within the body of a manymen, fire burned.
A layout of story chapters and where their events would occur inside the fortress.
Concept art of the entrance to a forest in the mountains, with a chocobo waiting outside.
The depths of a forest with wooden walkways lit by crystals leading over a lake to a massive tree in the middle.
Concept art of Basch standing before a tower of enemies frozen into ice.
Concept art of a pathway between frozen glaciers. The end of this icy sheet is likely up against the edge of the fortress, where Basch rushes out onto the ice to meet Loemund in battle.
Another look at the spaces between the frozen glaciers.
The full map of the Fortress game world.
A mock screenshot of what appears to be Laegd--the demigod aiding Basch and his army--meeting enemy soldiers on the battlements of the fortress. Here you can see enemies climbing and falling off ladders and other siege weapons in the background.
More concept art of the desert environment in Fortress, complete with the wooden ruins of a small town.
Concept art of murky plains with a Stonehedge-like rock structure in the foreground. This would be another environment in which players could hunt for materials to use in the fortress. A figure--likely Basch--stands in a swampy puddle in the bottom right.
Another look at the wetland plains, with Basch standing on a small hill.
Designs for the sea dragon boss fight.
Coloring concepts for the fortress battlements in three different weather conditions: sun, rain, and snow.
Color testing for combat on the fortress battlements in three different lightning schemes.
A design of the face of a war Chocobo. The idea with Fortress' creatures was to take beloved Final Fantasy monsters and make them gritty, or "dirtier." Basch and his soldiers would ride these Chocobos into battle.
Colored concept art of the fortress' inner wall. According to design documents, stairs were placed on the outside of these structures rather than inside to keep players engaged visually, and to make it simpler to navigate in and out of the different layers of the fortress.
A detailed sketch of the inner workings of the fortress gates. The player character would open and close these gates by activating pulley mechanisms on either side.
Concept art of another environment, a foggy tundra with large rock structures scattered throughout. According to documents, this was referred to as the "rock forest."
Colored sketches showing the detail on the fortress walls and part of the outer courtyard.
Another concept art for the rock forest, this time in a grassy environment.
A gameplay diagram for how players could take down and avoid attacks from larger enemies, specifically trolls.
Gameplay diagrams of what would result from players shield-bashing enemies. The top illustration shows the player character shield-bashing three enemies at once, while the bottom illustrates what happens when the player character bashes an enemy holding an explosive.
Another look at the creepy "manymen" enemy. This illustration shows how the manymen would break off into smaller manymen.
Another look at one of the game's big boss fights against a massive Malboro. In this event, players would have to run up onto his head and drop bombs into holes in his skull in order to defeat him.
A closer looking at the coloring on the fortress walls. The ornamentation was designed to invoke the sea and ships, since the fortress stands against the ocean.
Gameplay design of a large enemy appearing from out of the ground.
Gameplay design of the floor crumbling and enemies falling into it.
Gameplay design of the effects of the player character executing a wind spell.