One of the biggest reasons so many have been keenly anticipating the launch of Flying Wild Hog and Devolver Digital’s upcoming samurai action game Trek to Yomi is how it looks. The 2.5D game features fully black-and-white visuals and a focus on cinematic flair, which is very clearly inspired by the works of legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.
In a blog post recently published on the official PlayStation Blog, Trek to Yomi’s creative director Leonard Menchiari dove further into that particular aspect, explaining how the game, which he describes as “a homage to Akira Kurosawa” takes inspiration from the filmmaker’s works in a number of ways.
According to Menchiari, they key things the game emphasizes are “atmosphere and overall visual direction”, while also trying to ensure that it is “as authentic as possible not only to the cinematic references we were using, but also to the Edo period and Japanese Samurai culture.”
“Some aspects where detail was key were the rain, the fire, the look that everything had when you see it in black and white,” Menchiari writes. “Some of the movies that inspired me to do this were actually not even Japanese. Buster Keaton and movies from the 1920s-1930s were a big inspiration because they’re reminiscent of 2.5D sidescrollers, which made me want to make this game really badly. Orochi had some scenes that made me think ‘I need to make this happen interactively, that would be insane!'”
“While there are many iconic scenes in the classic Samurai movies that inspired many of the decisions we made in terms of shot choice, I’m especially proud of the way the main town was built,” he adds. “The Dojo on top of the stairs overseeing the whole main setting, the village inside of the walls, and the outskirts with the fields around the main castle were all things that I wanted to include to give a very good sense of geography while subtly showing how the countryside towns worked at that time. Using that basis we then spent hours composing shots that not only looked cool but influenced the way the player moves through the world, giving them a sense of how the town is before and after the demons burn it to the ground. Each enter and exit point was carefully thought out so that the player would hopefully notice clearly where everything was.”
Of course, 2020’s Ghost of Tsushima and its “Kurosawa mode” come immediately to mind, and comparisons are going to be inevitable- though it’s clear that with its 2.5D approach, Trek to Yomi is attempting to go about something similar in very different ways. How successfully the game manages to do that remains to be seen.
We won’t have to wait too long to find out, thankfully. Trek to Yomi is out on May 5 for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. You can learn more about the game in our recent interview with game director Marcin Kryszpin through here.