Survival RPG Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is the next project Spike Chunsoft’s Danganraonpa team is tackling, and Siliconera got to chat with producer Yoshinori Terasawa about the game at E3 2018.
Both Danganronpa and Zanki Zero: Last Beginning take place in a post-apocalyptic world. What makes that setting interesting?
Yoshinori Terasawa, Producer: Hmm… it’s probably because I like the emotions and psychology involved in those desperate situations humans go through. I like to portray that in my games. It’s not just me it’s [Kazutaka] Kodaka and [Takayuki] Sugawara too, they like these kinds of situations too.
Danganronpa and Zanki Zero also have characters players grow to love and they watch them die.
Yoshinori Terasawa: We like making games that move players emotionally. Players get emotionally invested and they are emotionally affected as they play through the game.
But, there is some humor in the story too!
Yoshinori Terasawa: Yes, the story is a bit dark, but we have a balance with these bits of humor too. We don’t make the atmosphere overly gloomy. The characters joke around with each other and laugh too. Compared to Danganronpa, the dark theme is more apparent in this game.
Why did you use the seven deadly sins as a theme for the characters?
Yoshinori Terasawa: Unlike Danganronpa, which had characters with almost superhuman abilities and very distinctive characteristics, this time the characters are normal people. They don’t have superhuman powers, but we wanted to make each of them distinctive in their own way by giving them these characteristics. It’s not just to give them iconic traits, but it ties into who they are too.
Which character is your favorite in the group?
Yoshinori Terasawa: Ryo [Mikajiime], the artist. I guess there are some parts in him that I see in myself.
The battle system is unique where age plays a factor. Younger characters can attack more often while older characters can use charge attacks.
Yoshinori Terasawa: As children, they are physically weaker. They are not able to hold as much and cannot equip weapons. They have those disadvantages, but they can attack more often so it’s kind of a tradeoff. They also have special abilities too like recovering from damage over time while other age groups cannot do this. Young adult characters are the strongest physically and, as you mentioned, they can do charged attacks more frequently when they are older. Charged attacks are strong, but these use stamina. It’s one of the elements you have to manage. Each age group has their own advantages and disadvantages.
One of the reoccurring themes is the more you die, the stronger you get since you unlock skills. Depending on how you die, if you get killed by a goat, you’ll get resistance to goats and blunt attacks. Skills you unlock when you level up are also passed down to the next clone when you die.
Seeing characters age is interesting, it’s rare to see in a game.
Yoshinori Terasawa: Because it isn’t often seen, I think it’s something interesting to show. When I first saw the proposal [from Sugawara-san], it was a new idea and I really wanted to do it.
What kind of enemies will players find in this ruined world?
Yoshinori Terasawa: We have strange creatures, monsters, and zombie-like creatures.
How can characters interact with each other?
Yoshinori Terasawa: Each character has affection levels for each other. When the characters go to sleep, you can choose two characters to sleep together and their affection will go up. You can raise bonds between characters that way.
[Editor’s Note: The following part contains massive spoilers for Danganronpa V3, so those of you who haven’t finished it or rather not know about its ending, I suggest stopping right here.]
I’m sure many fans of your games and Spike Chunsoft want to know, is Danganronpa V3 the end, the final end, of the Danganronpa series?
Yoshinori Terasawa: [Laughs]. For now, it’s the final end.
Was the whole story of Danganronpa, after playing V3, a big reality TV show?
Yoshinori Terasawa: For now, that is the canon story, but you don’t know if that’s true! [Laughs]. If there is another installment in the series, maybe you’ll find that out, but we don’t have plans for another installment now.
Zanki Zero: Last Beginning releases in Japan on July 5, 2018 for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. The game will release in the West for PS4 and PC.