- Feb 23, 2019
Back in december 2017, at 4Gamer's annual interview with japanase developers, Japan Studio creative director Tsutomu Kouno (Legend of Dragoon and ICO designer, and director of the award-winning LocoRoco and it's sequel) said that in 2018 he would unveil a new game after a nearly decade-long silence since the release of LocoRoco 2 in 2008. That obviously didn't happen as the only announcements the studio made that year were Team Asobi's Astro-Bot: Rescue Mission, From Software's Deráciné and Clap Hanz's Everybody's Golf VR.
"Yeah, but what does that have to do with next week's PS5 games reveal event?" you may ask. Well, to answer that we'll need to see the full picture, so let's go back to spring of 2014.
A couple of weeks before E3 2014, reddit user Ruin4r leaked a list of games that would be coming exclusively to PS4: The Last Guardian, a new God of War game, a The Last of Us sequel, Crash Bandicoot, an "unnamed space game" and Bend Studio's Dead Don't Ride - which has been key in verifying the authenticity of the leak thanks to a cryptic tweet posted by Shinobi602 on april 2016 in which he also reffered to Bend's unannounced PS4 game as Dead Don't Ride, before it ended up being titled Days Gone.
On april 18th 2016, Ruin4r came back to reddit to say that all of the projects previously mentioned by him are still in development and clarified that many of them were in early stages when he first leaked them, which was the case not only for God of War, The Last of Us: Part II or Days Gone, but also for the "unnamed space game". Before we move on, in an effort to reinforce Ruin4r's reliability, I'd like to mention that he also was the only individual who leaked the reveal of a Shadow of the Colossus remake at E3 2017.
Meanwhile, on the "official" side of things, we have SIE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida, who during an interview with Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty at E3 2015, told them that "Japan Studio is now producing a really great project that I'm really excited about", said project was also Allan Becker's (former Santa Monica studio head who took over Japan Studio's direction between 2011 and february 2020) key title in his plan to turn around the studio. For those who may wonder, that game was not Gravity Rush 2, as Toyama's title was later referenced as a different project by Yoshida during the interview.
At the end of the year, as part of an interview to 4Gamer, Japan Studio producer Teruyuki Toriyama mentioned that in 2016 he would be involved with the production of an "ambitious title", also implying that said title would be in the works for the following years.
Then in 2016 during a livestream in celebration of Famitsu's 30th anniversary, Yasuhiro Kitao (former marketing and promotion over at Japan Studio) teased an upcoming unannounced project early in development by the studio to Famitsu's chief editor Katsuhiko Hayashi by handing him a tablet whose specific content remained unknown. Hayashi was blown away by whatever thing he saw and told the audience that, even if it would be many years until we properly see something from the game, it would be worth the wait. Later in the year, again courtesy of 4Gamer, we got another statement by producer Teruyuki Toriyama, who told us that the studio was "moving forward with the creation of ambitious titles."
In december 2017 we discovered the existence of a new trademark by Sony Interactive Entertainment called "RaySpace" - one could say that the "unnamed space game" from earlier got it's title. That same month we also got 4Gamer's interview with creative director Tsusomu Kouno, who teased a game announcement for 2018, while Teruyuki Toriyama also promised "ambitious title announcements" for the coming year. But as 2018 went by and we were told by Sony themselves to not expect major first-party reveals at their E3 showcase and learned that PSX wouldn't be a thing that year, it started to be clear that there was a change of plans and the game wouldn't be shown.
Eventually, december came and so a new 4Gamer interview with Japan Studio staff. What was shocking is that Teruyuki Toriyama once again told us that he was "preparing for the debut of an unannounced title currently in production", but that didn't happen for the second year in a row. So what was going on with this project during the period 2018-2019? Well, I wanna get one thing absolutely clear: the game wasn't cancelled, as we would've heard the echoes of a downfall of this size just like we did when Santa Monica cancelled Darkside/Internal 7 in early 2014. That being said, this is what I think that went on:
As VGC reported a couple of weeks ago, the Horizon Zero Dawn sequel currently in the works at Guerrilla Games started up as a PS4 game until the development shifted to Sony's next generation console. This probably happened in either the latter half of 2017 or the first half of 2018, as Sony stopped to announce AAA PS4 titles around that time. With Ghost of Tsushima, announced in fall 2017, being planned for spring 2020, one could imagine that initially both RaySpace and the HZD sequel were planned to be late 2020 releases. But as production on Horizon Zero Dawn 2 shifted to PS5, I think its likely that Japan Studio's project went through a similar thing - as that has also been the case with other PS4 titles in production according to ZhugeEX.
And that finally brings us to the present, 2020. I think you all are aware of the rumors of a Silent Hill soft-reboot in development at Japan Studio by Keiichiro Toyama (creator of Silent Hill and director of the Siren and Gravity Rush series). One of the main sources behind the Silent Hill rumor is the ResetEra user KatharsisT, whose information on the matter has been verified by the forum's mod team. Well, turns out that she recently said that, just like the Silent Hill game, there's another secret project in the works at Japan Studio that's going to be revealed soon, probably at the PS5 event.
Considering that we are going to see Horizon Zero Dawn 2 at the event, I think the second game that Japan Studio is going to debut at the show, all things considered, has to be Tsusomu Kouno's project - RaySpace.