Venice 2018.11.04, written by Kuna.
Two weeks have passed since the demo release! If you’ve played through it, thank you so much for your time! For an indie developer it means a lot! (If you haven’t and want to, please check the Download section of this website).
For this week’s post I thought about writing down some background information about the story, the characters and the gameplay you find in the demo.
The game’s themes (part I)
What kind of character is Kairi? And what’s with those weird choices of his?
“Emotional blackmail”, “Sweet talk”, “Guilt trip”…? What do they come from?
As you probably experienced, Kairi can use a special variety of choices outlined in purple and introduced by an eye icon and… often containing quite an eerie text. And that’s not all! You can add more of them into your choice menus and have a wider variety of options whenever you feel like manipulating or destroying someone.
Just decide the way that feels more satisfied, evil mastermind! 😋
Jokes aside, as I previously stated on this pages, PBS is not a game about good and evil and has nothing to do with morality and the likes. But that doesn’t prevent Kairi from being offered the possibility to be a jerk. Why all this, then?
Let’s start from Kujikawa, a tranquil country town secluded up the hills. Fujisa is the rich heir of the most ancient family in the region. Since childhood, her education has been so strict that she was never even allowed to go on a trip to her favorite place. Teru, her best friend, is in love with her but he has never confessed, more likely because he’s not from a rich family like her and in such a town their love story would have no future. Everyone in town knows Fujisa, everyone at the elementary school, junior high and high school have been knowing about Teru and Fujisa being close, but no one actually knew a thing about them. No one ever came to help Teru or Fujisa with their own problems.
Kujikawa is such a city. Sunny and joyful hills at the top while some other area sees supermarkets and shops close to make room for a red-light district in order for the inhabitants to flee from the pressure of keeping their appearances.
(Again, I don’t mean to be a moralist and I’m not judging red-light districts or whatever. This is just the premise of the story as it is.)
Then Kairi moves to Kujikawa and someone with his personality could only thrive in such a situation. Bad soil grows bad grass, doesn’t it?
As convenient as it is story-wise (lol), Kairi had lost all his memories right before moving to the countryside. At first, he appears like your average blank-expression-wearing visual novel protagonist who goes through events and let you choose about his life. Far from it.
We learn he’s exceptionally smart because he passed the entry exam for university without much time to prepare for it and without even thinking about studying for it once during his academic life. And we also learn that what he feels and how he sees himself are different from the image that his very parents have of him.
What about his parents? They appear as a nice couple, trying their best to provide Kairi with the best things. His dad once states “Mundane days are the finest”, and he really means it. As the whole family finds out mysterious furniture and belongings in one of the rooms of their house, he makes sure that the door and window to such a place are walled-up for good before next day’s lunch time. He doesn’t simply remove the non-desired items, he wants the event to disappear and be forgotten. And don’t even consult anyone to proceed. It’s not like his wife would ever question his deeds anyway.
Kairi’s dad’s was an extreme act and my rule is to go extreme whenever I can to better explain characters and events. Kairi spends everyday of his life with these people. They don’t wall up physical doors every day of course, but they certainly wall up invisible ones because that’s how they are.
Kairi lives with them and day after day he saw one door after another being walled up without warning. Until he grows up into the 22-year-old man who cheat on everyone.
Kairi should be excused at this point… but he’s not, of course! What about his decisions then? Can’t he just take responsibility and solve his situation?
The game’s themes (part II)
Let’s go back to the arsenal of deadly choices Kairi is provided with. Oh man, how do you even come up with such perversions?
And let’s go back even further, when I first created Kairi, back in 2012. Back then I needed a protagonist that was overly cynical and cold. In the first draft of the story, Kairi dates a girl from university called Michiru just because she’s a beauty (she was the early Fujisa, but without pedigree). The two enjoy a fairy-tale love relationship for a couple of weeks, until Michiru reveals her secret dream related to the show biz and Kairi dumps her on the spot because in his opinion, having a girlfriend with such a dream could ruin his image of future attorney.
Kairi has other weird habits, like adding or subtracting imaginary points to everyone depending on their actions and thus having a chart where people in his life are rated and judged. This was the early method I used to describe the way he sees the world.
He was already kind of mean back then but for the final version of the story I wanted him to be extremely mean. Dumping Michiru all of a sudden and making her feel like she was never important to him was mean, but I thought that Kairi could do worse than that. Even in this case I wanted to go extreme.
(Luckily) it was not easy to find examples that I could take as a reference. Until I happen to read about people who act like Kairi in books and in hundreds of articles taken from psychologists’ blogs. (But I’M NOT psychologist myself so be aware that my job was merely the one to use some information to shape Kairi).
For example, Kairi manages to win Fujisa’s heart to the point she trusts him completely. He keeps repeating her how she’s beautiful and Fujisa melts every time. Why is that? Is she weak to this sort of things?
Yes and no. As I mentioned before she’s not much aware of the world, she follows others’ guidance because she knows few to nothing about life. What is right and what is not, what is safe and what is harmful are clearly defined. There aren’t grey zones and there aren’t doubts. Kujikawa makes you grow with such a mindset.
Fujisa has her own personality, though. She questions about how right it really is to get married while giving up everything else. But again, that’s what is labeled as ‘right’ and ‘safe’ so she don’t go in details any further. Kairi takes advantage of this.
Love bombing is a term coined in modern times to describe the act of giving a person great amount of positive attention, repeatedly. Kairi showers Fujisa with compliments and with how much he loves her and desires to be with her. At first, one receiving extremely praising words or love confessions of this sort might think that it’s an exaggeration. The love bombing expects the affections to be repeated over and over, with conviction, though. So shortly after, the recipient convinces themselves that those words, as well as the love shown, are true. That they have never seen anything similar from anyone else because that kind of devotion is such a rare thing!
And by that time the victim is trapped for good in the manipulative bastard’s web. Or so they say and write in books. Ahh, to think that such unnecessary drama happens in the world!
Similarly to the ‘love bombing’, all the other ‘techniques’ Kairi uses allow him to manipulate other people as he wishes. Kujikawa’s inhabitants cheer up in the Choumugai, an outsider like Kairi decides to take advantage of everyone…!
Anyway, PBS is not going to become a psychological research. What I wrote was just to explain where characters came from. With such material I was able to render their actions and reactions more credible than they would have been without!
Thank you for reading, see ya next week! 🙌💜