Interview by Leigh Carr
I first heard of Chris Darril when I was scouring for information on the old Clock Tower series many years ago. It seems there was a very ambitious young artist – Chris Darril – who was in the process of creating a spiritual successor to the Clock Tower series, known as Remothered. A five-minute video as well as screen shots were available showing some animated film scenes and gameplay mechanics for this stylish upcoming 2D title (an example shown right). My mouth dropped to the floor! It looked incredible! After learning that it was all being built by ONE guy I was amazed at the care, dedication and talent poured into the game. Word got around that Remothered was about to become something so much more and then … nothing. The video of this indie project disappeared from YouTube, the screen shots vanished and the website gave a vague description that the game would be returning soon.
Recently, videos and screenshots emerged from the Internet. Remothered was back in full 3D with a hearty budget created by a team of professionals. The original designer Chris appointed as the lead games designer for the project! I wanted to know more about Chris and his journey from a small indie games designer to lead games designer of a project he started many years ago. I contacted Chris and he agreed to an interview!
Please note: Chris is a native Italian speaker. Game vs Play have done our best to faithfully portray the spirit of Mr Darril’s responses during the course of this interview.
Games vs Play: Thanks for meeting with Games vs Play, Chris. My first question is, how many games have you designed, or are currently working on?
Chris Darril (pictured left): Hello Leigh, thanks for your precious time to meet with me and talk about my project Remothered. It is truly an honour. Well, I worked on different games with different roles. Professionally, I started as a concept artist and illustrator then I moved onto other roles such as art director and image board artist. Once I had chance to show my other skills I started as a creative director, games designer and art director in games such as Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities. I’m currently working on Remothered broken into three chapters; that is to say, I am actually working on completing three complete projects at the same time! Eheheh! I have also been asked to work on some secret projects that I currently can’t reveal. One of these projects is not related to videogames. I can’t say any more as I’m totally focused on Remothered for the moment
GvP: Can you tell us a bit about how your career as a video game designer began?
Chris Darril: First of all just for love’s sake. It was a hobby, but my passion grew as I was honing my skills and other assorted training. My first example is the 2D version of Remothered which I developed on RPG Maker XP. That was the main prototype behind Remothered as it is known today. I was only 18 when I started making the prototype. This was followed by making a game named Releasya on the Origami platform created for a Global Game Jam session. After this, I knew that this should be my future job. And there’s nothing cooler than to do what you love to do. So I studied and speedily started as professional.
GvP: So, how did you first get into playing video games?
Chris Darril: As explained before, I always loved videogames and the wonderful phenomenon of games meeting movies. Artistically I think they’re both similar as well complementary. It was just for a hobby. Being a huge fan of videogames and films I started as a common one-man-developer, my first experiment the 2D Remothered prototype. When this small and incomplete game creation I started as an experiment gathered all of this unexpected worldwide interest I started to be contacted and recruited from different societies to join their teams and that’s how everything started.
I should have become a plastic surgeon, eheheh! Then my plans changed and I found my real (and beloved) path. I couldn’t believe that the gaming world, the world which I admired the most in my life, would become something I could turn into a career. I always loved games, every kind of game. Probably the ones I like less are the sports ones. I started with the common point & click adventures (Chicken and Pulley, indeed.) Game vs Play might recognise the Chicken and Pulley to be a reference to the Monkey Island games! Lol! I enjoy various gaming platforms and their games created such as Super Mario & Co., fighting games such as Mortal Kombat II. Mortal Kombat is my favourite fighting game saga. I then arrived at my most beloved genres: adventure and horror, such as Silent Hill, Resident Evil 2, Tomb Raider II. The list of games I loved kept growing thereafter.
GvP: Great! Can you tell us more about your upcoming trilogy, Remothered?
Chris Darril: Remothered is the game I would love to play. Upcoming horror titles self-proclaim things like “a survival horror experience” or, better yet, “the return of real survival horror”. Although it could be considered my favorite videogame genre ever, I think there are only a few examples of (almost) “real survival horror(s)”. Some examples are Alien: Isolation, Clock Tower, Haunting Ground, Fatal Frame II, Siren: Blood Curse, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and The Evil Within’s DLC The Assignment (just terrifying!). It’s easy to say “this is a survival game” giving you tons of fire power, weapons, explosives and characters with super-hero like abilities or jump scares with the assistance of a talented musician.
Remothered is a new experiment. It’s true we conceived Remothered as a game somewhere between Alien: Isolation in the terms of a true survival experience and crazy hide and run sequences also coupled with The Last of Us type speed gameplay, including stealth, a 3rd person perspective and the addition of a character skills levelling system. It is not just about these gameplay elements. Remothered is also a tragic story about everyday events linked with people’s nightmares and fears: haunted by death, loneliness, illness, schizophrenia and past torments. I’m sure people will be terrified and scared as hell. At the end you will cry … a lot.
GvP: The game Clock Tower is known as one of your major influences for your upcoming title Remothered. You have also cited games such as Alien: Isolation and The Last of Us but also films directed by Roman Polanski (Rosemary’s Baby), Robert Demme (Silence of the Lambs) and David Lynch (Twin Peaks) as influences. How has film impacted the way you make games?
Chris Darril: Well, I grew up with Clock Tower “and friends”. I was terribly afraid of Scissorman and I loved playing as a common human running from him looking for a hiding place. It was true, it was natural, it was believable. This is probably what inspired Remothered the most. In Remothered we took the most believable feelings from games and movies. True sensations as a human being in a world that feels grounded in reality. Rosemary’s Baby, The Silence of the Lambs, Shining, Mulholland Drive and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? are some of my favourite films ever.
The discomfort, paranoia, duplicity and insanity you can feel in movies, like the ones I just named, will totally weigh on the events and the characters. The player will start doubting their own self and their own feelings. Imagine a world where you play a protagonist that is not a hero, instead is a pure anti-hero, in a world where the monsters are just common people and where your own character is a monster itself. Imagine a mysterious woman smoking a cigarette while reflecting if they are really the hero or the anti-hero. These feelings will be felt and enjoyed by those playing Remothered, a 3rd person survival horror game where you need to be sly, quick and silent, a game where your survival is the only means of discovering the truth.
GvP: You have mentioned in another interview that you are not just ‘a horror guy.’ What other games have you enjoyed playing and how have these games influenced your work?
Chris Darril: Eeheheh, it’s true. Horror movies are not my favourite films, especially those b-grade torture-porn and slasher films that seem almost identical to one another. As for games, yes, I enjoy the horror genre the most. Some wonderful examples are Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, Rule of Rose, Haunting Ground and others, but I’m not just a “horror guy”. Most of my favorite games ever are The Secret of Monkey Island, Shadow of the Colossus, Broken Sword II, Oddworld Abe’s Oddyssee, Tomb Raider II and also the first Kingdom Hearts game. I was just 13 and I really fell in love with it, especially for my endless love and admiration for Disney classics such as Beauty and the Beast (the most perfect and unreachable animated movie ever), Peter Pan, Pocahontas, Cinderella, Aladdin etc.
I can say that Remothered, although it is an original game and is styled in the form of the survival horror genre, will reawaken nostalgic feelings in players, like a beautiful masterpieces from the past. I can easily say that there’s a part of the game, especially in the last chapter of the trilogy, that is inspired by the evergreen classic Cinema Paradiso. This film is an Acadamy Award winner for best foreign language movie in 1990. It is a movie that I deeply admire and love.
GvP: I’ve followed the original concept design of Remothered prior to the project being assigned a budget with Darril Arts in conjunction with Stormind Games. How much has the game changed since its initial design?
Chris Darril: A lot. Remothered was a nice but silly incomplete horror game. Ok, I acknowledge it was a good merger of gameplay and movie media, but it was also a really premature game made by a really young guy with limited resources and technology. I was only 18. I have grown a lot since then. True, I did gather much invaluable experience while working on that project, but I really needed to know more before attempting to create the game. This would enable me to give the attention and expertise it deserved. Sadly I kept it in hiatus for many years until I had more experience. Later, I found the bravery and the strength to start the project again after my work experiences with the staff of NightCry and Forgotten Memories: Alternate Realities. I re-started Remothered with my beloved Darril Arts and Stormind Games partners. I re-wrote the plot and the characters. I re-imagined the universe making it a 360-degree analysis of psychological fears and diseases and nightmares. I moved the point of view from a typical 15-year-old girl to a mature 35-year-old woman [named Rosemary, and pictured above right]. More atypical for this game genre where all the protagonists are younger, sexier or fearless. I’ve limited the esotericism directing the game towards realism and the nature of fear. Remothered will also have a new gameplay structure with complex characteristics: from crazy AI, character skills development and realistic strategies for characters to utilise in the game.
GvP: What do you foresee for Darril Arts in the future?
Chris Darril: Well, first of all, we hope for the success of this project because we really believed in Remothered. We still can’t believe how lucky we are to be working on this project! We see Remothered as being the answer to players who are mourning the loss of cancelled titles such as P.T./Silent Hills. Remothered is a game for those that didn’t enjoy the latest Resident Evil 7 game because of its change from third person to first person perspective. Remothered is a pure survival horror, re-calling the old school but ready to inspire future projects with its innovation. We have spent a lot of time, money and energy and we made it with all our love as one big family, all united for one purpose. As founder, creative director and lead game designer, I’ve already got my next-project lined up (one of them is another “horror”). I’m yet to pull the rabbit out of the hat, ehehhe! There are still a lot of variables depending on the success of the Remothered Trilogy, for sure
GvP: What are some tips for people wanting to create their own video games?
Chris Darril: Never give up, never be impatient, never wait for results to just happen and train as much as you can. Just believe in yourself deeply, hardily and crazily. Sometimes it’s not just a good idea that will guarantee you a future. You need to be trusted and people must believe in your work. Ask to join little teams and little projects. Start with smaller roles and contribute to a bigger purpose. No one starts from the top, no one starts with a fully funded project ready to hit the stores. Make it for the love of doing it, for the love for arts and for the love of sharing your skills. [Pictured left: a screenshot of Remothered in the concept stage prior to being allocated a budget.]
GvP: And finally, what’s next for you?
Chris Darril: We will find out together. I love what Remothered has generated from the public, unexpectedly great feedback already. I’m absolutely happy and proud of it. People around the world have already created a specialized wikia page. So, for the moment, I’ll patiently wait for its release. This will be the proud day I’ll show my imaginary world of horror, powered and developed by the coolest teams (and friends) ever: Darril Arts and Stormind Games.
Remothered: Tormented Fathers, the first chapter of the highly anticipated survival-horror saga Remothered, will hit the market in 2017. Darril Arts and Stormind Games are finishing the development of the game, that will be released for PlayStation 4 and Steam. You can watch the announcement trailer here. To follow more news on the upcoming release of Remothered: Tormented Fathers, go to the Facebook page.
Games vs Play would like to thank Chris Darril for permission to use images appearing in this post. To find out more about the latest reviews, stories and other cool things in the world of games, like us on Facebook. And remember – if you’re game, we’ll play!