Kazutaka Kodaka has had a busy year. It’s the 10th anniversary of Danganronpa, which means he’s been making Dangan TV appearances. Death Come True, the FMV adventure game, launch. There’s also the first portion of World’s End Club on Apple Arcade. Siliconera caught up with him to talk about Death Come True and game design in general.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: What sorts of freedoms and opportunities have you found you have had since the success of the Danganronpa series?
Kazutaka Kodaka: Thanks to the success of the series, I’ve been given opportunities to work together with various publishers and developers, and I get inspired by them every day. In addition, I’m now in the position to create works spontaneously with less restrictions, as if I were making independent titles. It was the same when I was working on Death Come True.
Death Come True is Too Kyo Games’ first title. How did you feel about setting the stage with it? And how do you feel it helped set a tone for the studio?
Kodaka: Originally, Death Come True wasn’t supposed to be our first release. Yet because the production only took a little over a year, it ended up being our first game. Instead of sticking with the company’s brand and image and adjusting our schedule based on that, our mindset was simple and straightforward, like “Done! It’s ready to go now!”
We’ll be releasing games one after another from now on, and I think releasing a title that isn’t very game-like as our first represents the character of Too Kyo Games well, and I want people to feel the same way.
Death Come True is a game that doesn’t overstay its welcome and isn’t some 60-hour epic. What made you decide to go with this approach? How do you feel about game length in general?
Kodaka: Because I created the title with the hope that it would be enjoyed by non-game fans as well. I was hoping that this game would be a chance for them to get to know about the story-driven games that we usually create. I think that a game like Death Come True, which is not too overwhelming for non-gamers, will help the fan base grow bigger.
How do you feel horror and adventure games have changed since the Clock Tower 3 days, and are there any elements you feel were better handled in the past?
Kodaka: I see both good and bad aspects.
One thing is that advancements in graphic design have reached the point where horror elements are too scary. In that sense, apart from those well-established IPs like Biohazard, I feel that horror games have become a genre that’s too scary for some users to start playing. Personally I like horror games from the PlayStation 1 era the most.
What were some of the core concepts you wanted to pursue in Death Come True? Obviously the Death Medals are a big part on the player’s end. How did you get there creatively?
Kodaka: We created the title so it would appeal to players with its suspenseful story at first, then once they begin playing it, they get hooked until the end, and the ending is ultimately about love.
Again, we wanted to make sure that it would serve as an introduction for those who don’t usually play games, and help them realize the joy of playing games.
The Death Medals were the producer’s idea, and I like the system very much as it gives players rewards for playing the game despite its short length.
Can you talk about the filming process? Was there any ad-libbing from the actors, or on the fly scripting changes? What was it like to set up and sort of re-film the scenes for the parts of the story that rewind or change only slightly?
Kodaka: There was almost no ad-libbing, but because the filming schedule was tight, we had to delete scenes and lines up until the very last minute.
As for the setup, basically we took advantage of the hotel’s original atmosphere as much as possible and made small adjustments. We were very fortunate to be able to find a hotel that totally fits the tone of the story.
Regarding the filming of the rewinding scenes, the director and the actors had a clear understanding of the project’s characteristics and thought about how to make the filming go smoothly, so it went very well thanks to them.
When figuring out what Death Come True was, did you start out knowing it would be an interactive film, or was there more of an iterative process?
Kodaka: I wasn’t the one who named it an “interactive film,” but in Japan, the word “FMV game” isn’t very well known. For full-motion video games, sound novels that utilize live action stills such as 428 and Machi are the mainstream, so we wanted to make sure that people wouldn’t confuse Death Come True with that type of genre. We wanted to let them know that this project is a movie/game hybrid, hence why we went with “interactive movie.”
Which genres haven’t you explored yet, but would like to?
Kodaka: I’m a huge fan of action games, so I’d love to create action games like No More Heroes, Hotline Miami, and Katana ZERO someday.
Death Come True is available on the Nintendo Switch, PC, and both Android and Apple iOS devices. It will come to the PlayStation 4 on October 15, 2020. World’s End Club is available on Apple Arcade for iOS devices and will come to the Nintendo Switch in 2021.