Bokeh Game Studio Founders Talk Silent Hill, Leaving Sony, and Slitterhead’s Inspirations

Toyama wants to do something like Silent Hill again, but Slitterhead is priority with his current resources.

Bokeh Game Studio founders Keiichiro Toyama, Sato Kazunobu, and Junya Okura are talking more about their upcoming project, Slitterhead, and how it’s shaped by their horror expertise. In a new Q&A, the Silent Hill and Siren veterans explained how those older titles influence today’s work and the trials that come with forming their own studio.

Silent Hill, Siren, and Gravity Rush creator Keiichiro Toyama formed Bokeh almost two years ago with Slitterhead director Junya Okura and producer Kazunobu Sato. Toyama and his team began their new venture after leaving Sony Japan Studio, which later shut down, and midway into the video, they speak to how different their time as indie creatives feel compared to their past at the publishing giant.

When chatting about DLC and extending Slitterhead’s story, Kazunobu noted that these ideas once “needed to get approval from Sony,” but now, as a team of indie developers, they can “just go ahead and make it.” If folks like Slitterhead, they’ll respond turn around more content—no big publisher permission needed.

As reported by IGN, there’s a little hope for Silent Hill’s memory to go on in some way, too. Slitterhead’s previews suggest it’s a noticeably more action-oriented horror experience—a departure from the unsettling quiet in games like Silent Hill. However, when asked about his future with psychological horror games specifically, Toyama noted there’s still an interest in “psychological deepness and odd plots,” the sort of elements seen in work from creatives known for the bizarre, like Twin Peaks’ David Lynch.

“I want someday to do something with some classic psychological horror themes like I did with Silent Hill,” said Toyama. “However, I’d rather do that when working with really limited resources, such as budget or having to focus on one individual. Right now, we have staff with the ability to work on action. I want to leverage their skills to go in another direction. Still, I also want to make something more personal someday.”

Okura, who worked as lead game designer on Gravity Rush and planner on Siren, went on to detail how Slitterhead is different from some of their past horror projects. While it’s intended to frighten, Okura noted the new game would “focus on entertainment rather than plain horror” and balance the “frenzy” in action games with the slower moments in horror. The point is, Slitterhead should scare you, but not so much that you’re too frightened to push through—the action should help with that. Of course, that feels far more interesting, considering it’s coming from the Gravity Rush lead.

Slitterhead is like, at least in the top ten for worst names to have to say out loud, but the list of horror greats on the project means it’s a must on my list of things to play. That’s especially true for me after learning about Akira Yamaoka’s contribution to the game’s music and after learning Gravity Rush feedback is an inspiration here. This Bokeh video is part one, so we’re assuming there’s more on the way, but it’s a neat watch. The team has several bits like this, and even just as a fan of old work, they’re worth the time.