Silent Hill Creator Keiichiro Toyama Returns To Horror With “Slitterhead”

A year ago this month, a group of Sony Japan Studio veterans announced they were going independent with their new company, Bokeh Game Studio.

The news was eagerly awaited by fan groups, as Bokeh sees Silent Hill and Siren and Gravity Rush director Keiichiro Toyama return to the director’s chair and return to the horror genre that launched his career. .

Announced at the Game Awards last week, “Slitterhead” is Bokeh’s debut game. Not much was shared about the title, although Toyama previously said Slitterhead will be themed “everyday life shaken up”, and elements of horror and action.

野狗 子: Slitterhead – Trailer – TGA 2021

Slitterhead is worked by a whole team of veterans – many of whom joined the studio after Sony Japan Studio closed – including Gravity Rush designer Junya Okura, puppeteer leader Kazunobu Sato and Devil May Cry Tatsuya character artist. Yoshikawa.

Toyama hopes the game’s early announcement will help his new venture attract young creators to complement his all-star team.

Following Slitterhead’s announcement, VGC spoke to Toyama about the news, Bokeh’s progress, and reported that Silent Hill – the series he created – may be set to return.

It’s now been a year since Bokeh was first announced to the world. How is your first project progressing?

We just unveiled a trailer for our first title “Slitterhead” at the Game Awards! As for the project, we have completed our prototyping phase. We will use our knowledge gained from feedback to get into full production. While it’s too early to reveal any details about the game, and it will be some time before its release, we hope you look forward to it!

It looks like you’ve assembled an experienced team already. It seems that there must have been a lot of interest in joining such a project, and has this allowed you to progress faster in terms of development?

I have worked with most of the members in past projects, for which I am grateful. I am able to work in the same mentality as with Sony Interactive Entertainment. We are also gradually hiring younger staff, which boosts team morale.

Interview: Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama returns to horror with

How did you find your first year working in your own company in relation to the Japan Studio culture? Was it a very different experience for you?

I definitely work in a very free environment. Although my main focus is on the creative side of things, there are a lot of veterans on the team, which gives us solidarity in various aspects such as acting. This allows me to focus only on the story and the conceptual elements of the game.

We were surprised to see such a historic developer as Japan Studio disappear. Given the choice between joining another publisher or starting your own business, what made you decide to go it alone with Bokeh?

I had been thinking about independence for a while before the breakup of Japan Studio. However, I felt that it would be difficult to apply for a new job at another company, due to my age. I think the only way for me would have been to literally go solo and collaborate with different companies. However, due to the circumstances, I was able to act with people who shared my thoughts, so naturally I chose to create a new studio.

Slitterhead sees you return to the horror genre you’re most known for. Among your peers in the modern horror game genre, are there any that you really like, or feel above others, and why?

TP [from Hideo Kojima] Needless to say, it was fantastic. It set a new standard that VR horror games later followed, and I think it’s a legendary game.

For newer games, I thought “Devotion” was very good. The exoticism of different cultures made me nostalgic, while being afraid of the unknown.

Based on what you established in the first Silent Hill game, what do you think about how the series continued to develop with Silent Hill 2 and 3 and beyond?

For 2 and 3 [Masahiro] Ito-san honed his art direction style and complemented his vision. I think there was a lot of consistency, which complemented his vision, which I found to be very good. My only concern was that as an action game, how do these character designs evolve in the game, and maybe that’s something they struggled with bringing their designs to life in one. Game.

And Ito-san as a person in game development is out of control [laughs]so it is difficult for him to follow instructions or tell him to do things a certain way. Even on his own, it is difficult for him to control himself or to follow a certain path so he needs a lot of creative freedom.

But when you give him that freedom, he comes up with some really good ideas and concepts, and as a director you want that to work, understand what he designed and make it work in a game. are creatures of nightmares so anything goes and I think it works in the narrative.

Interview: Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama returns to horror with

The quality of the scenes in Silent Hill’s Takayoshi Sato CG – which also sets him apart from Biohazard – is part of what makes the game so memorable. Do you think these scenes contributed to the overall legacy of the game?

I agree that Sato’s CG was and is amazing, and internally at Konami there was a lot of praise for it and there was interest in taking it out of him and using him as a force in the game. But personally, since it was my directorial debut, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to bring out their strengths in the game, be it Sato-san or Ito-san. So that was one of the difficulties I had in leading Silent Hill.

On Silent Hill, it is said that you were given the role of director when you had never made a game before. Is it true? And, after surviving that experience, what common thread are you trying to bring to the projects you’ve been leading since, whether it’s Silent Hill, Siren, Gravity Daze or future games?

Back then, the idea for Konami was to release a lot of games and if we were successful, great, it was the mentality, it was a numbers game. They were trying to bring a lot of new blood into directorial roles, but even then it was only my third year, so I was still very young, and I was one of the first when they started this. trendy, so I was surprised when they chose me as their director.

The only reason I can think of like the reason they would is because I joined the company in 1994, when PlayStation was released, and the transition to polygons, because it was a year of transition that ‘they were looking to bring in new blood, inexperienced developers, and get out of the bet and take their chances.

If you weren’t assigned the director’s seat, your life might be very different right now.

I’m just grateful, I think I got really lucky with the opportunities.

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The 32-bit graphics style seems to be back in fashion. How do you feel about this? Do you have fond memories of those days or was it rather frustrating to deal with the limits of PlayStation?

The first PlayStation definitely had this style, and I remember that one of the hardest parts was that the textures would transform and bend and the straight lines didn’t stay straight; they bent as they moved.

And I really didn’t like it so we tried to fix it in the system. We would come up with different ways to display it, and we would find shortcuts or ways to fix it so that it wouldn’t look as bad as it would otherwise. But that in turn has become a style that people want to emulate and that’s interesting to me.

Capcom has done a lot of total remakes of the original Biohazard games, and these will likely continue until they’re all caught up. Do you think it would be interesting if Konami did a full remake of the original Silent Hill in the same way?

I think it would be harder to do again than Biohazard, because the gameplay as a concept is a bit older. It’s not an action game where you can just polish the action like in Biohazard, to bring Silent Hill up to current standards or to polish up the graphics, fans wouldn’t be satisfied. That wasn’t what it was about – how beautiful it was. I think the concept should be rethought to make it interesting for the fans.

What do you think of the recent trend in remakes in general? Is it good to see classics brought to a new audience or do you see them as more cynical, unoriginal businesses?

Unlike movies, games are hard to enjoy like in their original state – obviously because of the platform, but over time the game mechanics, especially in terms of usability, lack rationality and sophistication. Visually speaking, it is clearly not made for modern equipment, so I have absolutely no objection to modifying an original essence to suit the modern era we live in today.

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Having said that, as one of the creators of Silent Hill, do you have an emotional investment in it and are you interested in its potential return as a series?

I can’t say anything about myself, however, if there was to be a new entry in the future I would obviously be very interested in it as a user. I know there are many games that have followed in Silent Hill’s footsteps today, so I’d especially like to know what a new entry would leave and change from the original.

Why does David Lynch have such an influence on Japanese game makers?

Twin Peaks was very popular in Japan, as it was in the United States, so it is very well known in pop culture with the Japanese in general. But that mood where seemingly normal people have a dark side – I think people could really relate to that – especially in rural areas where people have two faces, so I felt a symmetry with what was. portrayed in Twin Peaks.

Can you point to anything in your games that is a direct influence of David Lynch?

Mermaid [when you shift to the other world] which is used in Silent Hill is a direct homage to David Lynch and Twin Peaks, in that it sets the tone and the weirdness. In Eraserhead, this human curiosity, especially the things that you are not supposed to do, is this tendency in human nature that you cannot fight, this urge to do things that you are not supposed to influence. definitely the game.

The main character is on the hunt for his missing daughter, but the main character actively enjoys hunting and the act of killing. Apparently he’s doing it because he owes it for his daughter, but then maybe he’s enjoying the process as well. This conflict in human nature was inspired by the work of David Lynch.

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