Indie visual novel Bermuda is an interesting project. The game’s story spans six chapters, involving disappearances inside the Bermuda Triangle, and it’s a little more interactive than your typical visual novel.
Bermuda traps the player inside an alien submarine with a cast of other characters, both human and alien. Each chapter features an open-ended stealth mission where you need to navigate your way past guards on the Mothership to a designated point. The game will also feature bonus conversations to help you get to know the other characters better. It’s fully-voiced and features voice-actors such as Kyle Hebert and Cristina Vee, among others.
Siliconera got in touch with developer Marcus Lam to talk about the game, the voice cast, and its presentation, which is inspired both by western and Japanese anime art.
We noted that the game seems to split the Earthlings and aliens apart by art style, with Earth people getting a more Westernized approach to character art and aliens taking on a more Japanese-style. Was this intentional, and what made you decide to approach it that way?
Marcus Lam, developer: This was a decision that artist Alastair Sew Hoy made, so let’s hear his thoughts.
Alastair Sew Hoy, artist: Yeah, I was conscious of the fact that while both aliens and earthlings inhabit the same planet, we still wanted them to look slightly different. The aliens with their bright teal hair and eyes, as well as the shape of their eyes distinctly anime-inspired compared to the earthlings who look a bit more toned down and realistic.
Provided that at the end of the day so as long as I get an appealing look for the character, both me and Marcus are happy! I’m a huge fan of the animator Yoh Yoshinari and his drawing style can shift dramatically between really realistic western and moe-style anime, and I guess as an artist myself I’ve absorbed a bit of that versatility that I can put back out in work like Bermuda.
You noted in comments to our readers that you’re okay with detaching gameplay—the stealth sections—from the visual novel elements itself. Could you elaborate on why you chose to do this?
Lam: Rather than claiming I separated them intentionally, it was more so an outcome I chose to live with. The gamers’ voices are being heard, though. I grew up wanting to write novels, and while I have also been designing games my whole life, integrating the two is something I hope to explore in future projects.
There’s a lot of big name voice talent behind the team this time around. How did you convince them to join up, and why did you choose to go with well-known names for the voices?
Lam: I am, of course, a gamer as well, and I keep a log of actors who might be a fit for upcoming projects. After that, it is simply a process of sending out emails and communicating with those who respond. Once we partner up with one actor, more will often begin to show interest. Having completed projects in your resumé helps as well.
Experienced actors can be left alone to do an excellent job with little instruction. As I manage everything on my own, I welcome being able to leave talented folks do their thing. That said, it is sad how starting actors are being neglected. They can often be just as skilled as experienced folks. We as a community seem to value big names.
That is why emerging talents are sometimes left in the dark. Game development is a business, and I am playing this game alongside everyone else.
Give us your thoughts on the development process. Since you’ve worked on Unhack and now Bermuda, what are the things you’ve really learnt from them, as well as from Kickstarting your project?
Lam: I love basketball, and Kobe Bryant once said, “For every shot you see me take, there’s a thousand you don’t see.” The same is true for game development. It is simply perseverance, learn from your mistakes, then persevere again.
While I have this opportunity, I would like to make a confession about Unhack. There are many things I regret about that game. I had wanted to challenge existing tropes. Instead, I stumbled right into them. When gamers see titles with a bunch of girls, many will jump to negative assumptions. I offered no help with a protagonist who keeps rambling on about costume mods.
Though I gave Unhack’s story my best effort and was pleased with the outcome, the narrative was muddled by tropes. Thank you everyone who showed patience and managed to enjoy the tale. That is the nature of creation. We hate our previous project, soak in the remorse and move on. Student of the craft for life.
So ehem, yes, Unhack is an amazing and perfect game. Please check it out!
As of this interview, Bermuda has been fully funded via Kickstarter. The game is in development on PC, and we’ll keep an eye on it as it comes along.