Since the pretty successful Kickstarter back in June 2015 Cherrymochi has been working on the dark Mystery-Adventure 'Tokyo Dark'. This game promises an interesting mix of western and japanese game design. We checked out the first chapter and decided to ask the developers a couple of questions.
Adventure Corner: Thank you for doing this interview. First of all please introduce yourself to out readers.
Jon Williams (CEO Cherrymochi): Hi there, I'm Jon. My wife Maho and I run a small indie studio just south of Tokyo called Cherrymochi.
Adventure Corner: 'Tokyo Dark' is a pretty dark detective story with some horror elements in it. What games, books, movies were the biggest inspirations?
Jon Williams (CEO Cherrymochi): 'Tokyo Dark''s influences come from many places. The main one obviously being the metropolis itself. Tokyo is one of the most incredible cities in the world, with every area having it's own distinct culture and style. We love to spend days walking the streets of Tokyo and getting lost here to see what we can find.
In literature a huge influence is Mark Z. Danielewski's 'House of Leaves', this book had a profound impact on me since I first read it and there are definitely thematic themes shared in 'Tokyo Dark'.
We take influence from lots of other media to name just a few; 'Se7en', 'Silent Hill 2', David Lynch and Japanese media such as 'Higurashi no Naku Koro ni' and the works of Satoshi Kon and Junji Ito.
The audio design in 'Tokyo Dark' is inspired by combining industrial sounds – such as found in artists like Nine Inch Nails with traditional Japanese instruments. This reflects the confusing mix of historical tradition and ultra modern found in Tokyo today.
Adventure Corner: The combination of different elements is a good cue for the next question. Judging from the first chapter of 'Tokyo Dark' it does feel like an interesting mix of japanese and western culture. How difficult was it mix both directions?
Maho receiving an award
Jon: 'Tokyo Dark' is designed to mix what we find most interesting about western and Japanese game design. I'm from England and Maho (the other half of Cherrymochi and my better half!) is from Japan. So as a couple we are always combing Japanese and Western culture in every part of our lives, so for us it comes naturally. Being based in Japan, and having a multinational team helps.
Adventure Corner: What would you say can western adventure games learn from traditional visual novels?
Jon: It's easy to overgeneralize these types of questions, as there is a huge amount of diversity and fantastic work coming from both areas. But as visual novels have basic mechanics, the plot and characters must be very well written to keep the players focus. Though, more recently western adventure games such as Life Is Strange` have fantastic stories, great characters and gripping interactivity. So perhaps the better questions should be what can traditional Japanese visual novels learn from modern western adventure games? 'Tokyo Dark' is us trying to answer that question.
Adventure Corner: 'Tokyo Dark' offers a lot of ways to interact with the environment. How would you describe the puzzles and other challenges we can expect?
Jon: 'Tokyo Dark''s core mechanic is 'Choice and Consequence' but along the way you will run into optional puzzles and secrets to unlock. Non of these puzzles are necessary to solve to reach an end of the story, you can never truly become 'stuck' in 'Tokyo Dark' as there are always a number of ways to solve each puzzle. What we find interesting is not IF a player can solve a problem, but HOW they choose to solve it.
Adventure Corner: Actions influence personality traits which seems like an interesting feature. But what does that actually mean for the game? Do personality traits for example affect how the story goes?
Jon: Yes, 'Tokyo Dark' features our S.P.I.N (Sanity, Professionalism, Investigation, Neurosis) system where every choice you make is tracked and changes one of these attributes. Future actions, responses and the direction the story takes are influenced by these attributes.
Adventure Corner: What has been the biggest challenge developing 'Tokyo Dark' so far?
Jon: As a tiny husband and wife studio, fund raising and marketing has been our biggest challenge. We've been very fortunate to be able to work with Square Enix Collective who helped promote our Kickstarter, and are now publishing and marketing 'Tokyo Dark'. Their support has been incredibly helpful.
Adventure Corner: How long will it take to play through the whole game?
Jon: It depends if you take a direct path, for example using violence and tough negotiation or if you play more tactically as a detective. We estimate it will take, on average 6 hours for each play-through. But with 11 ending to unlock and lots of hidden secrets to find there will be plenty to keep players coming back to replay the game in different ways.
Adventure Corner: When do you hope to release your game?
Jon: When it's finished! We're working hard and production is going well, but we still have not locked down a release window yet,
Adventure Corner: Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
Jon: Yes! I just want to say thank you to all our Kickstarter backers who supported the game. Without them we could not make it. As a new studio working on our first title it would have been impossible for us to raise funding any other way. We really appreciate it!
Also if you would like to see a 2 hour Let's Play of our opening chapter alpha, be sure to check out Gronkh's fantastic German translation here.
Adventure Corner: Thank you very much!