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  • Shaping Narrative And Visual Style Through Influences

    [11.05.20]
    - Thomas Pagani
  • What is Asobi?

    Asobi is a short visual novel that could be defined as a kinetic novel, developed on the occasion of the Spooktober Visual Novel Jam and is our first attempt at horror narrative, although we had previous experience thanks to our first project, Reverie.

    The story revolves around the encounter between a taxi-driver and a young and mysterious sex-worker (Remu), who is headed to a place called Homunculus Hotel.

    By mixing linear and branching narrative, the entire game is presented as the dialogue between the two characters, with the players in the role of the taxi-driver, asking questions to the girl in order to get to know her better.

    The kind of horror atmosphere we tried to achieve is strictly related to J-Horror movies from the ‘90s/'00s, especially titles like Kurosawa Kiyoshi's KairoNakata Hideo's Ringu but also Kon Satoshi'Perfect Blue (even though it's not entirely a J-Horror movie). While looking at all these references, we decided to develop a dark and tense atmosphere that could turn a normal and daily situation into a more mysterious and melancholic one, shifting from the tones of an occasional conversation to those of a confession of the sex-worker's life.

    In fact, if initially the two characters are detached by the fact they don't know each other, players will be able to deepen the relationship by asking her questions about her work or life, while maintaining a strong respect for her: questions never have a harsh tone but are presented in a gentle and genuinely curious way. And the more she talks about herself, the more the entire game acquires a melancholic, maybe even sad tone.

    The decision of narrating the story of a young sex-worker, and even the entire premise of a dialogue in which a taxi-driver asks her personal and intimate questions, has lifted some uncertainties among players, especially because the game tells more stories with each aspect and not all of them can be understood right away. Our intent, however, was to tell the story of a girl who had to sustain multiple pressures, struggles and pain, before getting the possibility to know herself better and found more comfort in her own body in order to be able to win against all odds. At the same time, her willpower is questioned as players go on through the game: they may get to know her weaknesses, worries and unresolved issues but, more importantly, the fact she's still bothered by her past, which follows her constantly in the form of a ghost that appears in almost every scene.

    So, if at a first look the taxi-driver seem to be minding her businesses too much, it's in fact the sex-worker who is willing to talk about it, in a way that could even make the players suspect her since they're only following the conversation and curiosity she has created.

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