World's End Club

A look ahead to Death March Club with Kazutaka Kodaka

It's the death game "no one has seen" yet.

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Death March Club has only recently been revealed by Too Kyo Games - the studio formed by Danganronpa's Kazutaka Kodaka and Zero Escape's Kotaro Uchikoshi, directors of their respective series - and of course given the status of the names behind it, coming from Spike Chunsoft, the hype around the game grew immediately.

Both Zero Escape and Danganronpa are incredibly popular titles in the visual novel genre, and this game seems to share a lot of similarities in the sense that it's a killing game once more. It's a killing game with school children though, reminiscent of the Danganronpa series where students murder one another, and so Kodaka is the developer we spoke to recently about what he's doing differently this time.

The studio was in fact created out of a desire from Kodaka and his Spike Chunsoft colleagues to look for a new challenge, especially since Danganronpa V3 had been released to tie the series off with a bow. It's been thought for a long time that last year's instalment would be his last in the series, having worked on it and the accompanying media (like the anime) for many years now, and so Too Kyo Games was born.

"The project of Danganronpa had settled down, and we had time to be relaxed. Then I started to think about what I should do for a new challenge," Kodaka-san explained to Gamereactor. "While talking with Uchikoshi in addition to the core members of [the Danganronpa production team], Komatsuzaki and Takada, we decided to be independent from the studio and try another challenge from scratch [...] it had a stronger overtone for us to form a team rather than making a company."

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"The process of making [Death March Club] is not much different compared to before. Too Kyo Games is in charge of game design, direction, scenario, and character designs, and we work with other developers for the process of the game development. They respect our creativity, letting us produce whatever we want, the same as before."

But it's not just the Danganronpa minds contributing to this new game though since Kotaro Uchikoshi of Zero Escape fame is on board too. This is a series that focused around clever puzzles as you work to escape the mysterious confines you've been placed inside, but it turns out that Kodaka and Uchikoshi have a rather different approach despite the similarities in their previous titles.

"The way of me and Uchikoshi's writing is completely different. I value the characteristics and situation, but Uchikoshi's style in scenario is strong. I've gotten a lot of encouragement from him as his scenario's level of [quality] is high. Now we are engaged with collaborative writing that sees me having overall ideas and Uchikoshi restructuring ideas by his theory. I aim for making content that gets the best of both."

World's End Club
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So with these two contrasting influences, where does that leave Death March Club? Well, what we know so far is that it's a game about school children caught in a killing game, much like Danganronpa, although it's not quite a visual novel since puzzles and action sections will diversify the experience. It's also about the number 12, as we see 12 students aged 12 in this game, reminiscent of the 999 game in the Zero Escape series. It's clearly got influences from both creators' previous works, but it's new in many ways too:

"As I'd never produced any [projects] that [had] main characters of elementary students, I wanted to make a main character an elementary student." Kodaka added that the story follows "students who [are on a] school trip and get dragged into the death game before they know it. In some ways, the story starts clichéd in the beginning, but many players will be stunned with the further developments. The story would keep you in suspense throughout, [and has a] marvellous unexpected twist."

Neither creators are strangers to the killing game then, but for both of them, it seems to be a case that this is the final one, the ultimate death game. "I do like the death game, but there are many things I like and I would like to make. So [that's] the reason why this would be the last for the present," Kodaka explained. After all, this is just one of the four projects they have going right now, with the others being a game that they're concentrating all their efforts on, an anime with Studio Pierrot, and a project Kodaka had in the works before leaving Spike Chunsoft.

While their previous work has had a lot of twisted murders, this doesn't mean that Death March Club will turn that brutality up even further. "To strengthen brutality needlessly is only stimulus, not [making] the story interesting. I do stick to the point [of] making the death game no one has seen rather than that." In fact, it might be even cuter than before, as we'll see a "cute and poppy art style which is the exact opposite of the death game image."

World's End Club

Of course it wasn't just Kodaka and Uchikoshi who made Danganronpa and Zero Escape excellent games, they were also helped by very talented individuals that they've recruited to Too Kyo Games, including the fantastic Masafumi Takada who provided the extraordinary Danganronpa soundtrack.

"Our members are Kotaro Uchikoshi; Masafumi Takada, who was in charge of sound and audio of Danganronpa series and No More Heroes; Rui Komatsuzaki, who was in charge of character design [in] Danganronpa; Simadoriru, character designer and illustrator; Takumi Nakazawa who was a director of Ever 17; and Yoichiro Koizumi, scenario writer," Kodaka explained.

As Kodaka has said and we can see in the images provided, Death March Club looks a lot different from what we're used to seeing from these two creators. For a start, it's 3D in parts, which we've only really seen in the later Zero Escape games, but more interestingly it's also a side-scrolling game, much like a 2D platformer. This is a big departure from the visual novel genre of course, and with action and puzzles being more prominent, we wonder if this could bear similarities to something like the violent game The Missing, from Hidetaka 'Swery65' Suehiro.

World's End Club

We don't know full details, but we do know we'll be playing as a young boy called Reycho, joined by his friend Vanilla, and that we'll be placed in an underwater amusement park, which looks like a suitably creepy setting for such a killing game. It reminds us of the underwater settings we've seen like in the first Zero Escape title, and the isolating nature of it is probably what inspired Too Kyo Games; it truly makes everything feel trapped. Just look at Bioshock's Rapture, after all.

In short, there's a lot that looks very familiar about Death March Club. It's about schoolchildren just like in Danganronpa, yet it has more puzzles like in Zero Escape, but then there are totally new elements like the 2D side-scrolling nature of the game coupled with an increased focus on action. We don't have much to go on so far, but it seems as if Kodaka, Uchikoshi, and the entire team are challenging themselves with this concept, which means fans of their previous work should be very excited. With the game due out in 2020, it'll be a long road, but hopefully we'll get some more solid details as 2019 rolls around.

World's End Club

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