Why The Gameplay Switch In Utawarerumono Zan? Director Tsutomu Washimi Explains
If you are an RPG fan and have not tried the Utawarerumono series, you are missing out. The previous three titles, Utawarerumono: Masks of Deception, Masks of Truth, and Prelude of the Fallen, had a distinct RPG style. In the newest excerpt, Utawarerumono Zan, The development went with a more action based, fast pacing, musou style game. With a series that has an incredibly in depth story, I wondered what made them decide to go this direction. I am happy to say I got my answers when I had the chance to interview the director of Utawarerumono Zan, Tsutomu Washimi at the Tokyo Game Show 2019.
CFG Games: The newest rendition, Zan, gameplay wise, completely veers itself a lot differently than what the original two came out for. It. Did you have a new level of expectations were you wanting to go with the series with this?
Tsutomu Washimi: So what this game is, as you said, it is different from the previous games. But one thing about the Utawarerumono series overall is that it’s very highly regarded in terms of the lore of the story in the world, the characters and things like that. We wanted to create something that maybe be a little bit easier for people to pick up and play rather than the original style of the games. And so, kind of in the same way as you would approach adapting a game to an anime, we did it for this game. So the story is actually based on the second game of the series. , because the game is so long, we had to kind of take, uh, the key parts in the end, the key scenes and things like that and based the story around that. But overall, because we have such a wonderful world of story just to have a new way for people to experience it and maybe get into the series for the first time.
CFG Games: What got you from where you were saying “This is the way we’re wanting to do our RPG. We wanted to make it kinda Chibi style”. Until all of a sudden, switch it to a full size musou-like action game. What got you to switchup the style like that?
Tsutomu Washimi: The idea is that: as the previous games or basically SRPGs (strategy role playing games), the thing about SRPGs is that when you do an attack, you base the player pressing a button and the attack happens. The level of interactivity you could say is more on the low side. Whereas what we were going for with this is that we wanted players to actually experience how these characters fought. What these characters were like and to make them as close as possible. As you mentioned, not the chibi style that we did in the original games. But to have it be something more closely to the original art of the game. We want players to experience that. That’s why we decided to make it this manner.
CFG Games: I fell in love with the characters and their backstories. Is there a favorite character that you have or one you could relate to in either Zan or any of the other games?
Tsutomu Washimi: I can’t say that I do have one that I dislike. Overall, you know, all of the characters. And even in Japan, there’s not really one character that’s disliked. Every single character in the series kind of has their own, his or her own fans. I feel all the characters are very well created, very well done. As a result, I ended up I liking them all.
CFG Games: You were saying that the biggest thing was the style one made easier for people in the series to be introduced to this a lot easier than the originals. In Zan, is there a feature or was there something that was added into it that that ease new players into the series a lot more? Or was there a system that was introduced that you are really proud of that you would say that was added into this to make it kind of different than the, the other two?
Tsutomu Washimi: Specifically in regards to systems that make it easier for people to kind of jump in and get involved and learn is that: As you know, uh, the series overall is kind of a tale of war. And war obviously involves lots of people. But the thing is is that what we wanted to portray is the individuals involved in this struggle and kind of they’re in some ways behind the scenes work within all of this as well as just how much that they really contributed to everything over all. The way we did this is that every stage, four characters are playable and the player can kind of switch on the fly. Each of the character has their own role in battle. So some one might be more suited to be a tank, one might be more of like a DPS, one character might be more of a healing type and things like that. Through this, we think that players are able to learn about not only the characters, but also to get involved to ease more easily into the game and get invested in it.
CFG Games: Is Zan just a different way of storytelling in the game, but is it still “meaty” when it comes to the world’s story. How enriched is this version of Zan compared to its predecessors?
Tsutomu Washimi: So because this is an action game, um, it’s kind of necessary to cut down on that really expansive storytelling. Particularly in regards to having people read text. As you know, the original games are very full on text and there’s a lot of reading because they’re kind of a hybrid of visual novel and strategy RPG. But again, because this is an action game, we really wanted people to have a feeling of, you know, movement and speed to it. And so we didn’t want them to spend too long reading, um, the text. So this is a retelling actually of the second game of the series. We kind of chose, again, those key scenes and those key features that we wanted people to experience. On the other hand though, um, because there’s lots of things that you can’t necessarily show in just text, we really wanted to show that in the game. For example, there’s enemies called Dekopompo that come out in the games originally. They come out in the story, but you never really see what these things are. Like how do they fight? But, what we’re able to do with an action game was actually show these enemy characters. What they look like, how they fight and things like that. So it’s kind of a different look, a different angle of what’s in this world.
CFG Games: This maybe too early to say or ask, but would you say the direction of the series is going to be going more towards musou, action based fighting?
Tsutomu Washimi: Not just this one way of doing things. In the future, we’d like to continue this series in several different ways. So it might take the form of what’s been kind of normal up until now. As a SRPG visual novel hybrid. It might be what we’ve done here with like the musou style action game. It could be something else entirely. We don’t want to close the door on any opportunity and just kind create the kind of game that best fits the story we want to tell for that time.
CFG Games: Are we going to see versions. Are there any plans for the series to be coming on different platforms? Maybe the switch on the go, or the original series?
Tsutomu Washimi: We are not limiting ourselves to PS4 by any means. It’s only for Japan, but we’ve already announced there is a mobile game that’s going to be coming out set in the world and in the future, we are happy to consider other platforms as well.
CFG Games: Was there any difficulties converting a vast story into a more simplified version in Zan?
Tsutomu Washimi: Definitely. Because this is essentially a retelling of an existing story, and like you said, it’s such a big story, There’s lots of scenes that are really iconic to people who have played it. Choosing specifically which scenes to put into the game was something that we struggled with. And the other thing too is: even though obviously this is the one I didn’t want is a tale of war, the other games, there are lots of examples of scenes that are just about daily life. The characters are maybe enjoying a meal together or having something just a day to day or typical. Because that’s such an important part of this series identity as well, we had to figure out how also to incorporate that in design. So that also was kind of a challenge.