Last December, I posted an article about Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama and his new company Bokeh Game Studio. Well, Keiichiro has graced fans with news and never-before-seen concept art for their first project, an unnamed horror-adventure game that looks profoundly disturbing. It may not be news about a title or even a character for the game, but it’s a thrill to see the team’s vision shape up. Rather than hype myself up for their future game, I’m sticking to optimistically following their progress.
Bokeh Studio’s ‘Focus’
Toyama spoke about the first project last time, but he goes a step further in a newly released video titled ‘Focus.’ He states that the game will be horror-oriented and made in his style. This time, he shares that he is partly inspired by “death games,” a prevalent phenomenon in Japanese manga. “You have these regular people driven into situations,” he says. “They’re on the edge emotionally, while dealing with action or drama. This influenced me and I think it will show in my next game.” I haven’t read death games manga, nor have I watched any anime under the genre besides part of Deadman Wonderland. So, I’m no expert on the exact concept.
I know it’s odd to say that a horror video game sounds grounded but hear me out. The concept that something challenges our way of life is how Toyama will ground the game. “While keeping elements from horror, I want the player to feel exhilarated when playing the game. The view of horror I have is the everyday life being shaken. Rather than showing scary things, it should question our position, make us challenge the fact we’re living peacefully.”
I’m all for science fiction creatures and a protagonist who must put them down. However, a game that settles for the usual man vs. monster as their element of terror can feel shallow. I like a game that is difficult to cope with psychologically. When our familiarity with the world and what’s going on is questionable, monsters add to the frightening scenario.
A sight of horror
Toyama’s view of horror is clear but make no mistake – Bokeh Game Studios will show scary things. Take a look at the concept art:
Now, let me draw your attention to the concept art below.
Above, we see a character wielding a sword. Perhaps the character is the main protagonist, or an able denizen of the world Bokeh Game Studio will create? Either way, it’s indicative of where the game’s direction will go. Toyama explains, “One trait of my games is the setting, what city or village do we evolve in, how did these people get there, what’s their emotional state. This is how I approach games. I’ve been inspired by locations this time as well and started with that.”
He also states that a city he and his family visited in Asia helped draw inspiration for the setting. I’m purely speculating based on his comment and the picture, but it sure looks to me like we’ll be in a modern environment with fantasy-horror elements.
I’ll make another prediction: It won’t be as stylized or action-heavy as Devil May Cry. Please give me something as macabre and somber as Silent Hill or Alan Wake, with a Dark Souls touch. I don’t mean “Make the game as difficult as Dark Souls.” I hope Toyama takes inspiration from the realism of a character’s physical limitations from a Souls game.
Bokeh Game Studios will surprise us
I can sit here making all the predictions I want to, but Toyama makes unique video games. With the freedom of his studio, there is no doubt in my mind that he will develop a game that will satisfy the fans. After watching the video, I’m confident that he will scratch our itch for a memorable horror game. After all, the concept of fear Toyama conveys means we’re not limited to frightening monsters stalking us through environments.
They’re not the only team looking to reinvigorate the horror genre in video games, but I think they are the most promising. That does not mean I won’t keep my eyes on several indie horror games coming our way. Yet this team is worth paying attention to, and I can’t wait to play through the world that Bokeh presents to us.