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Scarlet Nexus: external artist inspired the creature design

Masakazu Yamshiro has no previous experience with game design, but his art made a huge impact.

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Last week we got the chance to talk to Bandai Namco about their new "brainpunk action RPG" Scarlet Nexus, which got a fresh trailer in last week's Opening Night Live pre-show. Our latest impressions of the game, enriched with interview excerpts and exclusive insights, can be found in our preview article, but our conversation resulted in another nice anecdote that we wanted to share with you. In fact, we already talked about the visual design of the game with game director Kenji Anabuki on an earlier occasion (back in June, when the game was first announced during Xbox 20/20).

In a keynote presentation we watched before talking to Bandai Namco, art director Kouta Ochiai spoke about his associations when first designing the hostile threat, these so-called Others. He explained that the basic premise behind their art is the meaning of the word "foreignness". These creatures exude an uncanny and foreign, even alien feeling that should spark interest in the players. The team wanted to create a new and unusual experience that also seems incomprehensive to players at first glance. For this reason, different materials, that don't match each other, are combined within the enemies.

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While gathering inspiration, the art director noticed the work of independent artist Masakazu Yamshiro, whose designs will play a central role in Scarlet Nexus. According to the publisher, the freelancer had no experience with games, but his concept art made a big impact. His grotesque designs are not only different and unusual, for the art director it also resembles the principles of beauty in death. According to Ochiai, bringing together such different elements exudes a little sadness and that's why the art director really wanted to use this style and hire the artist.

"The artist Yamashiro is very central in the development of the Others," game director Anabuki said in our interview. "Our art director Ochiai did look at all kind of different art exhibits to get inspiration for the development. [He] only took one look at the artwork of Yamashiro and was instantly drawn by it and felt that it would be perfect to use his inspiration. [Ochiai] wanted to draw out the essence of his style and put it into the Others [...]. What he was especially drawn to is that he felt like it includes the source of beauty, the essence of it. The aesthetics of this artwork was really something he aimed for in the development of the Others and he used this inspiration initially when he first drew the first designs for the Others."

By the way, when the art director created the initial design, the results were already looking quite similar, according to Iizuka-san. The developer describes what he first saw as a collection of animals, but even after taking a closer look, he couldn't tell whether these enemies were alive or already dead. Bandai Namco hopes that this contrast and the fact that these beings give no impression could perhaps be fascinating to players.

If you'd like to read more about the visual design of Scarlet Nexus, we recommend you take a look at our previous interview with chief developer Kenji Anabuki about the design of the so-called brainpunk RPG.

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