VR games transport us to fantastic new worlds, making us feel like we’re actually there. The Tale of Onogoro, out now on the Quest Platform for $29.99 USD, takes that idea literally: As the Player, you’re whisked away to a far-off realm after putting on a VR headset to try out a new game. You’re suddenly part of an adventure that includes rampaging creatures, celestial weapons, and a shrine maiden with a cool mechanical arm.
Japanese developer AMATA K.K. previously released Last Labyrinth, a VR game in which you work closely with a non-playable character named Katia to solve escape room-style puzzles. The Tale of Onogoro builds on that cooperative gameplay with Haru, the high priestess who summoned you to her world. Chained to a magical stone, Haru is unable to move on her own, so you have to guide her throughout the game. Your lives are also tied to each other: If one of you takes damage, the other will as well.
We spoke with The Tale of Onogoro Director and Producer Hiromichi Takashi to talk about the creation of the game and the relationship that players will form with Haru.
What was the inspiration behind The Tale of Onogoro? How has the game changed over time?
Hiromichi Takashi: In the game that our team developed prior to this, Last Labyrinth, we focused heavily on the communication between the partner character and the player and on creating an adventure game that was unique to VR. We thought that we could take that concept even further and decided to create The Tale of Onogoro. Our dedication to this concept has not changed since the inception of the project.
How long was The Tale of Onogoro in development? Any fun anecdotes to share?
HT: We spent about two years developing the game. It actually took us quite a while longer than we’d initially anticipated. I can’t think of any fun anecdotes—but the scale of the maps were a little too large for a team of our size. The next time we make a VR game, I think we’ll try to make smaller maps (haha)!
What’s your favorite part of the game and why?
HT: I think my favorite part of the game is the actual presence of the partner character, Haru. At the end of the adventure you share with her, during the game’s final scene, I was actually surprised at the magnitude of the emotions that I was experiencing. I think the fact that we’re able to generate that kind of emotion means that we accomplished what we set out to do with this game.
How does The Tale of Onogoro build off of your earlier work in VR?
HT: Like our previous title Last Labyrinth, The Tale of Onogoro is unique in that it focuses on communicating with a virtual character in a VR space. However, the actual game experience between the two is completely different. In our previous game, players solved puzzles in a dark, confined space. This time around, players will be in a large open area where they will not only need to solve puzzles, but also battle with large creatures called Kami, among other things, for a more action-focused experience.
What’s the best reaction you’ve seen while demoing / playtesting the game?
HT: “HARU IS CUUUUUTE!”
If people take one thing away from the game, what do you hope it would be and why?
HT: I want players to really bond with Haru while adventuring with her in the game.
What influenced the overall look and feel of the game?
HT: We’re a Japanese game studio, so the look of the game was heavily influenced by Japanese anime. In terms of other games, I think we took some inspiration (only a little!) from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Who did you work with on the soundtrack and sound design? What was that experience like?
HT: The soundtrack and sound design were both done by Berens, our internal sound team here at Amata. I asked Yumiko Takahashi to sing the main theme and Rekka Katakiri to sing the song that plays during the ending credits, “Gondola no Uta.” I think the combination of Berens’s diverse sound style and the beautiful singing from both of our vocalists made for an amazing soundtrack!
What’s next for you? Any exciting updates in the works?
HT: The Tale of Onogoro is completed, and we do not have any major updates for it planned at this time. We’re excited to take on the challenge of working on our next title.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
HT: The Tale of Onogoro is a VR action-adventure game that focuses on the bond that develops between the player and Haru over the course of their journey together. It’s the kind of thing you can only experience in VR, so I hope that everyone will try our game!
Heed Haru’s call for help in The Tale of Onogoro, out today on the Quest Platform.