I want the setting to be fantasy, but not High Fantasy. Not a medieval setting, and no elves. I'd like modern elements and Fantastic elements to sit next to each other without feeling too jarring, and to allow the player freedom to roam, while limiting them.
I want the overall feel of the world to be idyllic and natural, and for the enemy to feel like a genuine invasion and threat to the world.
So, in order to give the player a fairly wide range, but hem them in, I decided that the setting is a walled in, isolated country. This lead me to the idea of a community which has closed off from the rest of the world as conscientious objectors. I would quite like it to resemble a kind of collection of eco-towns or alternative/hippie communes. Hence we get some modern technology, but in other ways things are quite medieval. Tall white wind turbines dot the landscape, and rooftops glitter with solar panels. Houses poke out of hillsides like modern style Hobbit holes and people ride bikes and horses (or similar equivalent animal) everywhere.
So rather than the overused 'there used to be technology, but a great disaster destroyed it all', seen in a lot of Fantasy games, I'm going down the route of 'there IS technology, but the people in Lena's walled community choose not to use it'.
So, architectural and design style inspirations:
I definitely want to go with modern eco-homes here. Lots of open plan, glass, recycled materials and a bit of a hodge-podge.
I also want to use Art Nouveux and Organic influences like the work of Gaudi and of Victor Horta. Art Nouveux has a finely crafted feel and mirrors natural, organic designs, plus Gaudi in his Utopia did a lot of work with recycled materials like bits of glass bottles and ceramics for mosaics.
So the 'Barrier Realm' as I'll call the setting for now, is basically a community of artists and alternative lifetyle people, like organic farmers. Craftsmanship is prized and people live at a slow pace. An idyllic lifestyle.
Unlike the NPCs in most games, who are annoying, unhelpful people who expect you to do things for you, the people in the community are genuinely helpful and nice towards Lena, but unfortunately are not used to taking decisive action, so when the threat comes, they are just overwhelmed by it. They have little sense of urgency and can be a bit useless in this sense, but they do mean well.