What are some of the changes you implemented as you prototyped the game?Hedjazi:
The feeling of speed is one of the core concepts in the game, and finding the right tempo took us a lot of iteration. In the early prototyping phase, we would constantly change enemy attacks and player combat abilities in search of that right feeling. I remember at one point the gameplay became much slower and defense-based; at another point it almost became a brawler. Once we found our direction, we were able to quickly throw out a lot of bloat and build on top of the successful features we had prototyped, such as the final blood skills system or weapon throwing.
How did you go about combining Japanese and Western design ideas to achieve the game’s ultimate, neon aesthetic?
Hedjazi: I think that just came naturally. Some of us have worked more in Japan than overseas. On the other hand, some of our freelance members have never even been to Japan. And then we also have Japanese staff who never worked outside Japan at all.
But no matter the background, in the end, every idea got filtered through our core game pillars, so we just always went with what made the most sense under these guidelines.
You take a manga approach to your cutscenes. Where did this striking approach come from, and how do you think it impacts the game’s overall look and feel?
Hedjazi: The story was always an important part of this project, and I wanted to find a way that would allow us to tell it in a memorable manner that is still feasible for a small studio like ours. Our lead artist Hans Steinbach has a background as a comic artist, and so we came up with the idea of realizing the story as a comic book. Hans’ art style is absolutely incredible, and the manga approach allowed me not only to talk with Hans about individual panels in great detail, but also flesh out the mood of this world much further than what any other approach would have allowed for.
What can you tell us about the game’s story and the inspirations behind it?
Hedjazi: The story follows Kobayashi, an assassin with supernatural powers, who works for Gokuraku, a large crime syndicate fighting over control of Tokyo. Kobayashi dreams of quitting his job and living in Okinawa, but the cut-throat environment of his job causes him to constantly put his dreams on the backburner. At the time when our story begins, Tokyo gets flooded by attacks of deranged criminals, all of whom are seemingly connected to the deceased pop singer turned cult leader Kinoshita. As Kobayashi gets tasked with taking out these criminals, he gets caught in a net of syndicate warfare, cults, and his own past.
Source: Unreal Engine Blog