We met Daisuke "call me Uchi" Uchiyama, producer at Game Republic, in a beautiful hotel in Milan. Between pasta and coffees (Uchi drinks American coffee in Italy, gross!) we asked him about his most recent effort, Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, the tale of the friendship between a huge monster and a small boy...
You showed us so much of the game that I should know almost everything. But I still feel a sense of mystery and unknown if I try to summarize the main story of the game. Are you doing that on purpose?
Yes we are. We don't want to spoil the story you're going to face in the game, because I think it's way more fun to go through the whole experience blindfolded. You'll discover everything just by playing, as it should always be. Where does the Majin come from? You won't know it from me, you'll discover it by playing the game. It's a story about friendship, ecology, good versus evil. This is what the story is about. All the details, the interesting stuff will be revealed throughout the game.
Talking about ecology, it seems you're telling a story about Mother Nature. The Majin resembles the Earth, for example. Is that correct?
Well, this is your interpretation of the Majin, it makes a lot of sense. But I think this one is just one of the many interpretations the players will have about this mysterious creature. What you should know is that the Majin is a good monster, it will help you and you will help him. Your friendship will become more and more important as you play.
What are you doing to increase the empathy between the boy and the Majin?
I think it's all about the game mechanics. You are a very quick, stealthy, athletic and intelligent boy, while the Majin is a huge, noisy, slow and pretty dumb creature. You need his strength, but he needs your grey cells. The relationship between you and the Majin starts from these opposites. Then the rapport will start to grow, to become stronger and stronger. You, as a player, will feel very close to the boy you're playing with. And since the boy will slowly start to love the Majin, you will eventually love the Majin as well.
When you were introducing the game, you cited a lot of games like The Legend of Zelda and The Last Guardian. Did you take inspiration from other games to develop Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom?
Of course we have. I mean, I'm a huge fan of games like The Legend of Zelda and the present of video game industry wouldn't be the same without those masterpieces. Zelda games have been very important for the puzzle sections of the game. I also took inspiration from Team Ico's games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. I'm also very interested in their last project, The Last Guardian. It seems to be similar to Majin in some ways, even though Majin was in development before they announced that game.
Talking about other games, in Cologne you said the game is visually attractive, but it's also very difficult. And you added a "kinda like Mega Man" that made me dream. Is this still true?
Absolutely yes. We didn't put the difficulty down to make the game more suitable for younger people. As you said this game may be beautiful to look at. The kids will love it. But I think they'll just watch their fathers or older brothers play, because the game is very difficult.