The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story, the interview with the development team

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story, the interview with the development team

The Centennial Case

With a few weeks of delay on the roadmap we are ready to present our interview with the team of The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story. An atypical title for the current moment of the industry, but which has been able to attract various attention to itself. Together with producer Ehara and director Ito we have tried to rattle off different issues.

The return to a genre

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story - an atypical and timeless project A game mysterious with live action footage isn't something you see every day these days. How did the idea for The Centennial Case come about?

Mr. Ehara: She was born because we like mystery games. Also, since Mr. Tachibana was working with us, we quickly thought we would be able to make a better game if we used live action techniques.

Mr. Ito: As you say, The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story may not be the kind of game you come across very often. We were well aware of this, which is precisely why we thought it would be a worthwhile challenge. We believed we could create a game unlike anything people have ever experienced before. The first thing we did was to think of all the tricks and surprises that could only be created in live action.

Square Enix is ​​experimenting a lot, mixing genres and creating new IPs. How much creative freedom did you have in the course of development?

Mr. Ehara: Yes, we have been given a lot of freedom. Obviously there were some practical limitations, but I think we were able to adapt and manage things well on this front as well.

Can you tell us the main inspirations behind The Centennial Story? (both from movies and other games)

Mr. Ehara: Our main inspirations were the game series Ace Attorney and Danganronpa, as well as Netflix's Black Mirror, among others.

Mr. Ito: The premise of an ancient family in the Japanese countryside that has passed down its old traditions for hundreds of years was inspired by the Kosuke Kindaichi film series, directed by Kon Ichikawa and based on the original novels by Seishi Yokomizo. While they didn't have a direct influence on the story of The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story, I love games that describe a long story arc, for example games like Dragon Quest V where the baton is passed from parent to child.

The path of realization

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story - the deduction phase Watching the trailer we smelled Agatha Christie. Are you a fan of her work?

Mr. Ehara: Sure, I love your job!

Mr. Ito: Now that you say that, I suppose maybe Eiji and Haruka look somehow like the detective duo Tommy and Tuppence.

We reviewed The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story and noticed a very distinctive structure. Can you illustrate it?

Mr. Ehara: We have come up with various ideas to get rid of any moment the player was just watching a movie. The information necessary for your reasoning will be constantly shown in the video. Players will have to carefully consider everything while playing.

Mr. Ito: Each episode consists of three parts: the incident phase, the reasoning phase and the solution phase. In the incident phase, you will observe the details of a murder unfolding over the course of the approximately 30-minute video. In the reasoning phase, you will use your brain and controller to put together hypotheses to infer the truth. In the solution phase, you will use the assumptions you have put together as weapons to uncover the killer and the trick behind the murder. Each episode has roughly two to three hours of gameplay, and there are more than five murder victims in the game. In addition, there is a general story that develops in the intervals between the chapters.

The making of a live action game

The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story - the protagonist of the story Come do they change the shooting scenes knowing that you have to shoot many different versions of the same story? How did the actors react to this?

This placed a greater burden on the actors than on the production staff. There were some scenes where they had to change personalities between different versions which meant it was quite difficult for them to connect the emotions between the scenes. After some discussions with the actors, we ended up establishing an approach to first film the entire correct path back-to-back, and then film the other versions for each dialogue option. However, this required the actors to go back and remember the emotional state of each situation, which was a rather tiring experience for the cast.

What are the pros and cons of creating a detective play with live action footage? What are the limits and possibilities?

Mr. Ehara: I'm afraid I can't get into it without it becoming a spoiler. I apologize! To talk about it more broadly, rather than specifically in terms of a detective game, I hope people will pay attention to the detailed expressions and beautiful renditions of the cast.

Mr. Ito: One of the main differences - and difficulties - in the development process of live-action games compared to normal games is that the story must be absolutely complete before shooting begins. On the other hand, I feel that the live action has a certain appeal that you don't find with photorealistic CGI graphics. At this point, I think it's even easier to portray the subtle eye, breath, and skin warmth of a live filmed character. I think it was also helpful to use real actors to portray the story, when one of the themes is life and death.

With a project like this I'm sure you had so much fun in production. Do you have any particularly exciting moments that you want to share with us?

Mr. Ehara: It was really fun to think of all the different foreshadowing elements we could have added to entertain the player.

Mr. Ito: It wasn't exciting in a good way, but there was a moment during the shoot when I went white as a sheet! Shooting had gone particularly long that day and both the crew and the actors were exhausted. Nobody noticed that we forgot to shoot a really important scene. When we realized later, we rushed to have the actors film the scene on a green screen, which we then merged into the background. I won't easily forget the anxiety I was feeling at the time!

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