Be Honest With Us, Yuji Naka–is This Secretly a Horror Game?
Balan Wonderworld continues to look absolutely amazing, even though we haven’t seen a lot of Balan himself in the promo clips–or our actual protagonists, for that matter. We understand keeping apparent antagonist Lance out of sight until the last minute, but really? Not even a glimpse of Leo and Emma? That’s weird. We’re not exactly complaining, though, because the next round of beautifully stylized promo videos is out and they remind us why musical theater is such an effective artform. Get ready to have feelings over a boy and his planes, a woman and her birds, and a little girl and her horrific childhood trauma–er, kitten. We mean kitten.
The promos for Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are even more theatrical than the previous ones, with Chapter 4’s clip even showing Balan sitting in an auditorium and watching the events unfold like a play. It’s all very funny until performer Chang’s grip on reality starts to slip after one too many failures. Chapter 5, meanwhile, presents one of the most chilling arguments to protect the environment we’ve seen in gaming for years. The scene where the forest is clear-cut and all the color leeches out in the bulldozers’ wake? Terrifying. We’re 100 percent on birdwatching enthusiast Sana’s side in this.
Chapter 6’s promo video may be the darkest yet. Balan Wonderworld has already set itself up to address near-death experiences, social ostracism, broken dreams, and environmental despair–now it’s taking a look at death and survivor’s guilt. With no dialogue and a series of still images, the clip shows a girl named Cass building a friendship with a stray kitten. A friendship which comes to an abrupt end when the kitten sees Cass and runs out into the road to greet her. It looks like Cass is now being haunted by the specter of her dead friend, her own guilt, or both. Yuji Naka and company are not fooling around.
We really hope that Balan Wonderworld will be a relatively uplifting game, but wow, some of these themes and visuals seem straight out of a horror game. And the main villain hasn’t even really made his grand entrance yet! How much darker is this story going to get? Is this just a horror game in disguise? If so, we aren’t complaining. We like horror games.
Balan Wonderworld will make its way to current and next-gen consoles and PC in the Spring of 2021.