Trek to Yomi Cinematic Inspiration – PlayStation.Blog
Hello everyone in the PlayStation community, and thank you for your wonderful response to Trek to Yomi! Now that the game is complete and ready for gamers around the world, I’d like to take a moment to talk about how our great cinematic visuals came to be and the iconic films that inspired them.
Originally from Italy, I had seen Sergio Leone westerns before I knew about Akira Kurosawa’s films. Of course, once I found out that these westerns were heavily influenced by Japanese samurai cinema of the 50s and 60s, I had to experience them for myself. That’s how I fell in love with Kurosawa – probably because of Seven Samurai – in my first year of college. The realism and the direct, rough idea of what life was like, the concern for composition and the performances that are connected on a human level rather than dependent on culture, all of which fascinated me. Of course, after watching The Hidden Fortress, it became clear to me where George Lucas and Steven Spielberg drew inspiration from, and for good reason.
So how did this discovery inspire a video game after so many years? Initially, the gameplay I had in mind was the main reason I wanted to make Trek to Yomi, but with Flying Wild Hog eventually taking care of that aspect, my focus was on the atmosphere and overall visual direction, and also to ensure that the game is as authentic as possible, not only to the cinematic references we used, but also to the Edo period and Japanese samurai culture.
Some aspects where details were key were the rain, the fire, the look of everything when you see it in black and white. Some of the films that inspired me to do this were actually not even Japanese. Buster Keaton and the movies from the 1920s-1930s were a big source of inspiration because they are like the 2.5D side-scrollers that really made me want to make this game. There were a few scenes in Orochi that made me think “I need this to happen interactively, that would be crazy!”
While there are many iconic scenes in classic samurai films that inspired many of the decisions we made in terms of framing, I’m especially proud of how the main city was built. The dojo at the top of the stairs that oversees all the main scenery, the village inside the walls, and the outskirts with fields around the main castle are all things I wanted to include to give a very good idea of the geography, subtly showing how provincial towns worked at the time. Then, using that foundation, we spent hours creating shots that not only looked cool, but also influenced how the player moved around the world, giving them a sense of what the city was like before and after the demons burned it to the ground. Each entry and exit point has been carefully thought out so that the player clearly sees where everything is.
One of my main hopes and goals for making Yomi Walk was to inspire people to watch these classic Japanese films. This whole game is a tribute to Akira Kurosawa. I definitely encourage anyone who hasn’t seen these films to give it a try. These are old classics, but I think most of them are worth watching even today.