During the fifth episode of that romantic anime podcast that I happen to be a part of, we discussed one of the best anime series I have had the pleasure of watching in years. That anime was A Lull in the Sea. A romantic fantasy based anime centered around a group of 14 year old friends that live in the sea and the relationships between them and the people that live on the land. The manga adaptation for this anime was released during September of 2013, and has been collected into two volumes, which to me is a very short afternoon read.
OK, so before we continue I’d like to pause for a moment to HIGHLY recommend both the anime, and the manga for this series. They both have some of the best looking artwork you will ever see in both anime and manga, and the story is one that will bring up feelings in you that you never knew you possessed.
The plot of A lull in the sea’s is one that I think lends itself perfectly to a dating sim styled JRPG type of game. Please note the “J” in JRPG for a second. The reason for this is because of the way the anime looks. I think it is very important to show off as much of it’s world as possible while at the same time telling a great story that explores each character. JRPGs have been known to allow for deeper stories involving multiple characters unlike most western RPGs with exception of a few (Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc). If we wanted to create a game involving more freedom and less plot, then a *WRPG would have been ideal, however that is not the type of game that would best suit A Lull in the Sea.
As for the look of this game, games like Ni no Kuni and Tales of Vesperia are titles that I think about when I envision what a game made after this series could/ should look like. The game could/ should feature a full 3D world akin to that of the sword art online games, and by doing so it will facilitate for the movement of characters throughout a 3 dimensional space that will represent the underwater world. This part of the game world is where I believe most players will want to spend most of their time, so this is the area that I think the developers should spend most of their time adding little details that harken back to the anime/MANGA.
With the look of the game out of the way we focus on how this thing is going to play. As a JRPG it should ease the player into the world in an organic way. Too much JRPGs loos the player with too much at once. To avoid the norm it can have a few fetch (I’m think like 3-4) styled quest at the beginning to allow the player to explore the environment as well as learn the mechanics. These quest however should not be mundane or numerous enough to bore the player. Having just the right amount of them to allow the player to get the hang of controls and environment is enough. After that the player should be placed in a predesigned time stream similar to but not limited as the Persona games. What I mean by this is the game should feature full day and night cycles that may span 1-2 hrs of real time. these in game day cycles would each be littered with interactive things for the player to do, while at the same time confining the player to make wise choices about how they choose to spend their time ingame.
If you have ever played a Persona game then you know that each day you are allowed to participate in a few activities from a selection of tasks. In most situations the thing you choose to do prevents you from doing certain others which in turn affects the overall plot. This sense of perma choice with ramifications makes your experience in those games so much more than playing. When I talk about my Persona experiences I don’t say “my character”, I say “Me”, I say “My girlfriend”, I say “our battle with….”. The reason for this is because of those perma choices in the *P games. They make the experience a lot more than just a game. It immerses you into it.
*WRPG = Western Role Playing Game *P = Persona *ALITS = A Lull in the Sea
We can take the perma choice system from *P, and go even further with our *ALITS concept game. There can be more organic choices than simply choosing what to do for lunch, after school and at night. What I envision is a world involving your character, but not limited by said character. The character would just be one element in the whole machine, one that has many replacement and alternatives. The events of the world would play out no matter what your character does, but if you choose to interact with a particular character/ things in the environment, then any other aspects of the game involving that person/thing will change according to what you do. Yes Yes I know that seems like a lot of programming and such, but remember we live in an age where games can have limitless content. (points to “No man sky”)
In the anime the characters are only seen in two locations, the town on the land and the village under the sea. They didn’t go on any massive adventure or anything and I think that that is one of the reasons that the story in the anime was so well done. by limiting the amount of variables in the story, the writers were able to create a well amalgamated story, and the game should be similar, so even though the game will allow for a lot of freedom in the way the player chooses to play, it should be limited to the playground of the same type of towns.
ALITS should be a fully voiced game with multiple dialogue tree conversations similar to games like Alpha Protocol. For those of you lucky to have played that 2010 gem you know that it had some of the most responsive dialogue. When in a conversation in that game the player is given 4 conversation choices and a bar that slowly decreases in size. The player has until the bar depletes completely to choose the response they wish to use. If not the game will choose one for the player. I personally consider this to be the best way to do dialogue in a JRPG. It should be a genre staple by now, and it would be a perfect fit to the ALITS concept game.
Like the anime it’ll be based on the game should embrace the relationships between the characters. This can be achieved by using *P’s relationship system. Given they can grab one from any good dating sim for my liking. Maybe a mixture of them the best ones. Think about a game like LA Noire. The devs at Rockstar games choose to use a realistic facial and body ques to lead the play to the right choices. A system like this with a mixture of Persona, and a hit of more dating sim staples would be ideal. Could you imagine Chisaki and your main character out swimming by the old school building exploring and then trying to read her to arrange a date or maybe a kiss? The possibilities with this system are numerous, and would be a treat for any fan of role playing games and or dating sims.
As you may already be able to tell I am a big fan of this series. It’s one of the very few newer series that I’ve fallen wholeheartedly in love with and if you’ve watched/read it then you totally understand why.
Manga: Nagi no Asukara (A lull in the sea)
Publisher: ASCII Media Works
Mangaka: Project-118, Riso Maeda
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, romance, school, shounen
Game Genre: JRPG, Dating Sim
This is my proposal for A lull in the seas the game: the Game. Did I miss anything? What is yours?