The World of Game Development: Interview with Game Conceptor Keiji Inafune on “Soul Sacrifice” [1/3]

"Soul Sacrifice" launch trailer
"Soul Sacrifice" launch trailer

The PS Vita game Soul Sacrifice will be released in Japan and throughout Asia on June 20. The game was first released in North America on April 30, then in Europe on May 1. Now, it is finally being released in Asia. Soul Sacrifice is so popular in Japan that many shops will sell out once the game releases. There are many points to take notice of, including the game’s unique world and system, but how was that originality created? To find out, we talked with game conceptor (*1) Keiji Inafune. We hope you enjoy this interview and gain a deeper appreciation for Soul Sacrifice.

TOM: Congratulations on the release of Soul Sacrifice in North America and Europe. May we first ask what kind of reaction and feedback the game has received?
Inafune: This game was developed with the thought of wanting people not just in Japan but abroad as well to play it, so I’m happy that reactions from those overseas have been steadily coming back. Previously, when games were developed, it was recognized that “overseas = North America.” However, currently, receiving support from people in other areas as well has been realized.

In Japan, the handheld gaming systems PSP, PS Vita, and Nintendo 3DS have already been established, but I don’t think we have reached the point where they are “perfectly rooted” overseas. The image that “games are played in front of a big TV” is still firmly rooted. However, many fans were waiting expectantly for this game, and we are feeling strong reactions from them in regard to it.

TOM: Even regarding the game’s high level of completeness, your level of satisfaction must be very high, right?
Inafune: That’s right. From a game standpoint it’s obvious, but I’m extremely satisfied that even the visuals and world are receiving high praise. I feel like, “I was able to create a world that everyone around the world can enjoy!”

TOM: Speaking of the game’s world, did you create it from the outset of the game’s planning with overseas users in mind?
Inafune: I was thinking about an appearance that “overseas users would by no means ignore.” From the standpoint of being related to the category of “hunting games” (*2), I understood that there is a tendency to have a narrow outlook by being distracted by the popularity of such games in Japan. Therefore, I was always saying to myself, “Make sure that the world doesn’t become one that ‘only’ appeals to Japanese people.”

TOM: In other words, you’re saying that the dark, characteristic world of Soul Sacrifice was created because you were conscious of both Japanese and overseas players, right?
Inafune: Of course, I wasn’t simply aiming for impact by including gore and grotesque creatures. The thing that was important was “coolness.” However, an extremely important component to the game was also tying that coolness to reality. Nevertheless, what I refer to by “reality” isn’t “what is realistic,” but rather “a powerful production that players will grasp.” I enjoy Akira Kurosawa’s films and I often watch them. I think that he was extremely skillful in striving for both “reality” and “entertainment.” For example, in the film The Bodyguard, for the first time in movie history, the sound of killing a person was included in the production. Of course, in reality, there is no such sound for killing someone, but when speaking of whether “sound” or “no sound” has more impact, of course, the answer is “sound.” I think that a production that gets a bigger emotional response from the player is “reality,” so I was very particular about this in Soul Sacrifice.

To be continued in Part 2.

Soul Sacrifice Official English Blog:

© 2013 Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

(*1) A new job title that Keiji Inafune created. A conceptor is someone who goes beyond the existing duties of a director and producer and engages more flexibly in game development.

(*2) An example of this type of game is the Monster Hunter series, which has sold more than 23 million copies. In these games, players battle huge monsters and use materials won from battles to craft better weapons to fight even stronger monsters.

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

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