Two creators behind the Danganronpa and Zero Escape series of visual novel games have teamed up to create what they call “a death game that nobody has ever seen before.” Their project is called Death March Club, and much like Kazutaka Kodaka and Kotaro Uchikoshi’s previous works, it stars a group of kids thrust into a deadly Battle Royale-esque game.
This time, however, the game makers are skewing younger. Death March Club’s cast of 12 school kids are all about 12 years old.
We spoke with the developers at Tokyo Game Show last month, and they gave us early details on their new type of death game.
After a bus accident, the preteens who star in Death March Club find themselves stuck in an underwater amusement park, where a murderous clown forces them to play a deadly game. Players will assume the role of Reycho, an unusual young boy who Uchikoshi says is easy to identify and empathize with. He’ll be joined by Vanilla, a girl with an “innocent, light personality” who’s also “quite dynamic and active,” according to Uchikoshi. Players will interact with the game’s other 11 characters, in episodes of treason and friendship, Uchikoshi said, while also solving puzzles in 2D action.
Yukio Futatsugi, whose studio Grounding is handling development of the game’s action components, said the mechanics will “leverage the personalities of the characters.” Kodaka explained that those characters are elementary school-aged because “they obviously have different ways of thinking” compared to high school students or adults, and that will inform how Death March Club will play.
“One of the strong themes [of Death March Club] is growth,” Kodaka said. “Having all of these characters grow is part of the story, and that’s why we have characters in elementary school. That growth is easier to [express]. If it’s an adult, it’s not going to be growth, it will be change.”
Kodaka added that another design goal was to have “an extended contrast between the setting of a death game with elements of horror, but implementing children in the theme park. It’s a way to create a big contrast.”
Death March Club is the first of multiple projects in development at the recently formed Too Kyo Games. It’s being developed in Unity and will come to PC sometime in the year 2020. Too Kyo itself is small, only about seven full-time employees and 10 external contractors. Too Kyo joined with Grounding, which developed Crimson Dragon, and Izanagi Games to bring Kodaka and Uchikoshi’s project to life.
Kodaka and Uchikoshi teamed up and split from their previous company, Spike Chunsoft, because they wanted to work on something new and different, they said. Shinsuke Umeda, the game’s producer at Izanagi Games, said that getting the two creators together along with Futatsugi (the creator of Sega’s Panzer Dragoon series) was a miracle in terms of timing. Umeda added that the group is revealing Death March Club early, well over a year before it will be released, because they’re following in the footsteps of other indie developers. They want to find an international publisher to partner with, he said, and that Too Kyo “wanted to really show more of the development phase to users, and try to incorporate users’ reaction to the game.”
More details on Death March Club are available on the game’s official website.