Over the last few years, Furyu’s released all sorts of RPGs. Its latest game Monark brings in former staff members responsible for Shin Megami Tensei games. To help get a better idea of what to expect from Monark, Siliconera spoke with Director, Producer, and Scenario Writer Fuyuki Hayashi and Scenario Writer Ryutaro Ito about it. The former worked on both Crystar and Inazuma Eleven 3. The latter worked on games like SMT I and SMT II.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: When did Monark development start and how did the team decide to put together this kind of game?
Fuyuki Hayashi: I think it was the beginning of 2019 when we first gathered the team and started the planning. I myself entered this industry because of influences from Shin Megami Tensei if… and the thought of following and including these essences that I love into a new IP was the start of the project.
Also our goal from the planning stage of Monark, we wanted players to positively affirm egos, we wanted to to recognize your eg-. Synonymously it goes with the thought where we wanted “people who cleared the game to gain a sense of accomplishment to gain the power to live.”
Furthermore, as a project, we think that it will become a series that lasts for 10, 20 years and will be loved by everyone for a long time. In order for this first installment in the series to not be buried in other titles, I focused on “gritty elements” and “new systems” when creating this title.
It seems like Monark attempts a Persona-like approach. How do you set it apart in terms of characters, story, and gameplay?
Hayashi: I believe that titles like Shin Megami Tensei are a successful example of games that are themed after Jung psychology. However I’ve received a comment from Aya Nishitani the author of Digital Devil Story Shin Megami Tensei that Monark is based on Adler psychology which is the opposite of Jung psychology. …This comment stuck with me strongly so I thought I’d share this here.
Ryutaro Ito: We wanted to do a deeper dive into the psyche of the main cast. I feel like we’ve come a long way since Shin Megami Tensei’s creation over a quarter century ago. On the topic of gameplay, modern JRPGs tend not to be that difficult, but I believe there are plenty of challenges in Monark. It can be considered a spiritual successor to the Shin Megami Tensei series in that sense.
Likewise, how did your experience with Shin Megami Tensei help shape Monark?
Ito: I mentioned the reply to the previous question, but Shin Megami Tensei was created more than a quarter century ago. Since then, there have been countless advances in hardware, software, even effects and artistic settings within the games. Games have much higher resolution than they used to, so I wanted to maintain a high graphic fidelity, although I think there are some things I could’ve done better. I hope I’ll have more opportunities to continue this in the future.
How did you decide to go with character attributes and seven deadly sins in Monark? How did each Pactbearer’s connected attribute influence their design?
Hayashi: In this title we consider one’s “source of action” as “desires.” I felt that in order to classify these desires into categories, it was most attractive to use the seven deadly sins. Additionally, in this work I interpret the desires as below.
The characterization, story, theme, and even the appearance of each pact bearer’s concept is based on these.
Pride: The will and desire for self-affirmation.
- Pros: Self-confidence, leadership qualities.
- Cons: Annoyingly egocentric.
Wrath: The will and desire for emotional affirmation.
- Pros: Can assert themselves when needed.
- Cons: Recklessness.
Envy: The will and desire to begrudge others.
- Pros: Motivation to improve.
- Cons: May drag others down.
Greed: The relentless will and desire to aim for more.
- Pros: Ambitious to the max.
- Cons: Willing to sacrifice anything.
Gluttony: The will and desire to consume and grow. The excessive desire for growth, whether through sustenance or knowledge.
- Pros: Personal development.
- Cons: Voracious at the expense of others.
Sloth: The will and desire for prudence and stability. The desire to contemplate.
- Pros: Calm and rational.
- Cons: Defeatist tendencies.
Lust: The will and desire to love and be loved.
- Pros: Self-improvement to appeal to others.
- Cons: Self-destructive obsessions and wild impulses.
What made you decide to go with strategic battles and how do you feel they compare to their contemporaries?
Hayashi: Like the title’s meaning of “Monark” the base of the system was to give players the sense of having complete control over the situation. The characters in the game are visually designed as “Chess pieces” with the main character being the “king,” which takes part into the game play where it’s more beneficial to think about positioning to play more effectively.
In addition, this game does not have the usual “MP” but rather a “MAD” gauge that a player must manage and use to fight. You can fight to your advantage by controlling “Madness,” using powers such as “Resonance” or special skills only humans call “Awakening” together, to heal the “Madness” level. The goal is for players to experience the catch copy of the game “take control of madness” by mastering the system.
Monark is a game with multiple endings. Will they be aligned to certain attributes like law, chaos, good, and evil? How involved will earning them be?
Hayashi: The endings are based on choices. This was intentionally chosen so players can play stories other than the cleared companion story more easily. This was done because I didn’t want to replay and start status and friendship statuses from the start
This is just a small side story, but for the 4 companions we had a light-dark/law-chaos setting for differentiating paths during development. For example, light x chaos would be Date Ryutaro and dark x law would be Yuda Shinya.
Some early feedback and comments in Japan mentioned an issue with Monark loading times. Since the global version will appear in 2022, will bugs and issues like that be patched before the worldwide release?
Hayashi: There were such reports for the PS4 version, but for both the Japanese version and the Western version this has been addressed and improved.
Monark is the new Furyu PS4, PS5, Switch, and PC game. It is out now in Japan. It will come to North America on February 22, 2022 and Europe on February 25, 2022.