Surreal horror game OMORI won’t be a recluse forever

OMORI isn’t dead but it has been delayed again. The team behind the upcoming “surreal psychological horror RPGmaker game” has released a new trailer and explained why the game isn’t out yet. To make a long story short: the team admits it “underestimated the amount of time to create a video game.” The original estimate for the game’s release date when it was funded on Kickstarter was May 2015. That means that prediction is drawing close to being two years early.

But there’s more to it than mere naivete. One of the major setbacks for the OMORI team has been a transfer in engines. As explained in the Kickstarter update, at one point the team decided to upgrade from RPGMaker VX Ace to RPGMaker MV, meaning that Mac would be available as an additional platform. It also meant that, when it is released, OMORI should run on many more computers. “If we stuck with our previous deadlines, OMORI had a large chance of not running at all on most computers and would not receive any updates to resolve these issue,” wrote the team.

The change in engines seems to have caused a right headache for the team. Not only were there new bugs to tackle, but the graphical engine needed to be upgraded and a lot of their work had to be reformatted, plus the newer engine uses a different programming language, which has caused an urgent need for some extreme resource management. “We hope that everyone understands that we are far from slacking off on this project and have been extremely busy working on the game while keeping up-to-date with everything technically,” wrote the team. “As we have mentioned before, some of us have even been developing health problems related to overworking and stress.

Videogames don’t often acknowledge hikikomori

As work on the game is still very much in the aftermath of that engine transfer, there’s no set release date for OMORI presently. But, hey, that gives you plenty of time to get familiar with it if you aren’t already. It takes place in “WHITE SPACE,” where the main character has apparently been hanging out for years by themselves, never leaving. The new trailer teases a Carroll-esque journey outside of that room, across pastel playgrounds, dark corridors, where there will be beasts to battle and friendly picnics available to break up the pace.

To elaborate a little on what the trailer shows, we can turn to the game’s description, which suggests that the main character is on a journey to discover their life before they were locked up in that room. There’s also something more morbid to unravel: “The truth is… Your story is already over. You just have to remember it,” goes the description.

RPG Maker games have had a tacit association with this mixture of surrealism and teenage ennui since at least 2004, which was when Yume Nikki first appeared. If you’re unfamiliar, Yume Nikki is a surreal horror story about a hikikomori character—a term from Japan that refers to modern-day hermits. Videogames don’t often acknowledge hikikomori, but there’s an unexplained wealth of titles that were made using RPG Maker that do. OMORI is the next big hikikomori game to look out for.

Perhaps it’s the accessibility of RPG Maker, making it fairly easy for a single person to make an entire game, that has allowed this sub-genre to flourish. People who shut themselves in all day can make a game with a character that relates to them and their experiences without the help of anyone else. That seems to have been the case with Kikiyama, the mysterious creator of Yume Nikki, who disappeared from the internet before Yume Nikki was finished. Hopefully that won’t be the case with OMORI—the team does at least talk about their work and seem committed to see it to the end.

You can find out more about OMORI on its website.