A City Shrouded in Shadow, and a Disaster Report

It’s been a good while since Granzella Games announced their two upcoming projects: City Shrouded in Shadow and Disaster Report 4 Plus: Summer Memories. Both were revealed in the second half of 2015, but they’re taking their time in working on them.

Granzella was formed by former Irem staffers, with creator and producer Kazuma Kujo at the helm, and were working on the original Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories before they departed the company. The original project was cancelled after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan due to supposed potential sensitivity issues. “Supposed” because it’s believed that was only an excuse, as Irem was planning to mostly leave video game development outside a few small projects, and used this as an excuse. But now that they’re free of Irem, Granzella grabbed the rights to the Disaster Report property and rebooted its development, hence the “Plus” now attached to the name. They also had enough free staff to work on another game, which also happens to be themed around a disaster, though with a more outlandish cause. Everything was coming along nicely…or so it seemed.

Both games faded into the shadows (ha ha) for a while, and no translated comments came from Granzella about their whereabouts. It was nice that a renewed developer had the resources to handle the production of two HD games simultaneously, but they may have undertaken too much at a time. Still, there was no news about a cancellation, so it appeared both were simply taking longer than expected. Since they just resurface, that was thankfully the case.

The unique concept is what sticks out most about the Bandai Namco-published City Shrouded in Shadow. It will feature monsters battling it out over Ichi City, engaging in the kind of fights that have been common throughout kaiju shows and movies in Japan for decades. But while the battling opponents are typically the focal point of those works, this game almost entirely occurs from the perspectives of the humans who have to deal with the unpredictable consequences. Some citizens always want to take in the sights, but several humans can die during these battles, though some kaiju works sugarcoat it so as not to alienate younger viewers.

The male protagonist is Ken Misaki, who was on his way to a park to meet with a woman named Yuki Kyouno at the start of the game, when giants are unleashed on the city. The female protagonist is a separate person from Yuki named Miharu Matsubara, who happens to see the monsters unleashed in the city while strolling through. All three will have to help other characters they meet who stumble into similar trouble along the way, while keeping themselves alive. Players will be able to choose the name, occupation, clothing, and hairstyle for the two protagonists, while the clothing, hairstyle, and relationship status with Ken can be chosen for Yuki.

The other part of the story here is the monster cameos — or “monster” cameos, in some cases. It was previously confirmed that Ultraman would be part of the game, while Nise Ultraman and Alien Zarab from the same franchise will also join. Godzilla was also confirmed, along with King Ghidorah and Gamera, both of which have made several appearances with Godzilla. Even stranger, Evangelion Unit-01 and The Fourth Angel will also be here to wreak havoc on the city, though Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t typically associated with kaiju works. That applies even less to the most recent confirmations: The AV-98 “Ingram,” CRL-98 “Pyro Buster,” and Type 5Q/2C “Grau Bear,” from Patlabor. It should be fun to see all these cameo appearances while preventing characters from being killed by them.

With the resurfacing of City Shrouded in Shadow came a release date of October 19th for Japan. It was originally confirmed for PS4 and Vita in Japan back in 2015, but the latter version has since been cancelled, likely due to its current software sales and how difficult it must have been to program all kaiju battle elements in the background. It’s tough to determine whether it will be released outside Japan, as whoever picks this up might have to license every property associated with the game, which will get expensive. Hopefully that won’t be the case.

Meanwhile, Disaster Report 4 Plus hasn’t received quite as much new information lately, but an update was provided showing how it’s still in development. The game will take place in the mysterious year of 20XX, and will star a character of the player’s own creation. It’s similar to City Shrouded in Shadow in how the protagonist will have to help other characters he or she happens upon while keeping themselves alive, though this title will be more grounded in how it’s based around a natural disaster. The protagonist will also have to keep their bathroom usage and hunger in check, while their survival rate will also depend on what they’re wearing, which sound like neat, quirky features.

There’s still no release date for this, as it’s likely taking a little longer due to Granzella funding this themselves — unless a publisher simply hasn’t been revealed yet. But it’s good to hear it’s coming along, and will have VR support. More info should arrive soon, especially as all of the company’s developers will be able to focus entirely on this after City Shrouded in Shadow releases.

It would be great for Granzella if both titles do well in terms of sales and reception to their quality, so they can pursue future projects. One of them may not be a Steambot Chronicles-like anime-style adventure game, but let’s hope they’re willing to take the risk.

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