Interview Remy Siu

Remy Siu: Creative Director of 1000xRESIST

1000xRESIST is a game that took me completely by surprise. Its trailer was very intriguing and conjured up influences that speak to me: the games of Yoko Taro, Evangelion, Satoshi Kon and the work of Robert Wilson, all set against a backdrop of diaspora. I remained interested in the game until I saw a tweet from its creator, Remy Liu. 

“I was making what FF7 made me feel when it hurt me as a kid.”

This description is so honest, it spoke to me and touched me immediately. I contacted Remy directly so that I could do this interview with him. He and Fellow Traveler were great and sent us a key so we could play the game before our chat. If I’m honest, I’m still struggling to put into words how 1000xRESIST made me feel. It’s a powerful piece of work, with an incredibly well-told story. This was followed by a 2-hour interview with Remy Siu, with whom I was able to talk about his background, the birth of Sunset Visitor and his first game, as well as the game’s themes and so much more. This interview is divided into two parts, the first half being accessible to everyone, the rest containing its fair share of spoilers. If you want to read the whole thing, I urge you to play 1000xRESIST, which I consider to be my strongest artistic experience this year (yu). 

Point’n Click: Hi Remy! Thanks for taking some time to discuss with us today. Can you introduce yourself and share a bit about your background and how you ended up developing video games?

Remy: Sure, my name is Remy Siu, and I’m the creative director at Sunset Visitor. My background is in the arts, specifically experimental performing arts. When I was younger, I wrote a lot of fiction, though it didn’t go anywhere at the time. I later studied music composition at Simon University in Vancouver, a contemporary arts school. I was fortunate because it was a radical interdisciplinary environment. As an undergrad composer, I was encouraged to write pieces from the beginning, which isn’t always the case elsewhere. Additionally, there was a lot of experimental theatre and dance happening nearby, which led me to work with theatre and dance artists as a composer. I worked in a capacity beyond writing notes on a page, using live electronics to improvise and keep up with performers. This experience eventually led me to new media arts, focusing on projection design and mapping and all this kind of new media stuff that you have a lot of in France, which is really great.

PnT: At your school, were music production and theater all part of the same institution?

Remy: Yes, it was all within the same school and not separated by departments. This was important because it meant we were all in the same place, meeting and collaborating on various projects.

PnT: That makes sense. It’s beneficial to mix different disciplines and see how people react to the music and how they will dance or perform. Now, on a different note, I like to know what kind of gamer you are. Do you have time to play games currently, and if so, what are you playing?

Remy: I love narrative games the most. Some of my favorite games include Kentucky Route Zero and various JRPGs from the PS1 and PS2 eras, which I played mainly for their stories. Recently, I’ve enjoyed indie games like Outer Wilds, Norco, Perfect Tides and of course Citizen Sleeper. Though I haven’t had much time to play in the last six months, I did start Final Fantasy VII Rebirth and I’m slowly progressing through it and I’m currently just at the Gold Saucer. I also have a long list of games I want to play, such as Crow Country, Cryptmaster and Before the Green Moon. The list keeps growing with intriguing titles like Indika, Dread Delusion or even Artic Eggs that look really interesting. I can’t wait for the new Analgesic game to come out: Angeline Era.


PnT: Considering your background, you likely used some of the software for video games when working on projection mapping. How did you transition into making your own games?

Remy: In music, we use Max/MSP or Pure Data for programming sounds and tools. This led me to use a theater piece of software called Isadora, named after Isadora Duncan. Later, I used Touch Designer, a real-time branch from the Houdini software, which is popular in new media. This tool helped me get comfortable with shaders and Python. Although I’m not a great programmer, these experiences made transitioning to Unity smoother. Having Colin J. MacDougall, our programmer, was essential; I could focus on other aspects while he handled the coding.

PnT: I noticed on your portfolio that you’ve worked in various places like Vancouver, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. How those different cultural contexts influence your work, not just in video games but in general?

Remy: Touring and performing in different places allows you to see how various audiences react to your work. For example, German audiences are often very generous with their applause compared to Vancouver. This immersive experience includes understanding how different theaters operate and the unique aspects of each city. In Hong Kong, where I also worked as a curator, I experienced a deep connection, given my family’s origins there. Working in Hong Kong from 2015 to 2020, I learned about the local art scene and work culture, which was enriching. Each place offers a rich experience that subtly influences my creative process.

PnT: Was your first visit to Hong Kong work-related, or had you been there before, during your childhood or teenage years?

Remy: My family wasn’t keen on returning to Hong Kong when I was younger, so my first visit was in my early 20s. From 2015 to 2020, I frequently traveled there for work, which allowed me to reconnect with the city and its culture deeply.

PnT: In your artistic approach, you explore the themes of automation and algorithmic governance. How do these ideas manifest themselves in your creations, and what message do you hope to convey to the public through them?

Remy: In the performance works I was creating, I realized there’s a term in the gaming space that fits well with what I was doing : alt control, or alternative controller works. In these performances, I used a combination of various hardware inputs, software, and lighting to create an environment for the performers. Their human agency interacted with these algorithmic and automated structures. For instance, one of my major works involved pianists navigating these algorithmic systems that demanded increasingly more labor from them.

Algorithm work

This reflected on the intense labor musicians endure and paralleled it with the labor required by digital systems. While these tools have been democratized, offering broader access, this democratization often accompanies the erosion of supporting infrastructure. My focus was on exploring the existence and essence of humanity within these structures. It wasn’t just about how humans exist in these automated systems, but what it means to be human in such contexts. Interestingly, despite the severity of these works, they highlighted human activity and failure, encouraging us to cherish rather than punish these aspects. This was a key theme I was contemplating during that period.

Algorithm work
Algorithm work

PnT: I understand why you have an affinity for Citizen Sleeper now.

Remy: Yeah, exactly. There’s a lot of that in there, you know, examining the gig economy and how we interact with it.

PnT: This adds a lot of context to your work. Now, diving into your game itself, can you tell me how Sunset Visitor was born? Did you have the idea for the game first, or did you establish the studio and then come up with the game?

Remy: The game definitely came first. The studio was essentially born into production. I started working on the prototype around March or April 2020. From there, I began sending it to publishers, and thankfully, we found an amazing publisher in Fellow Traveler. They really supported us. Additionally, we secured funding through the Canada Media Fund. This combination of support and funding was the context in which the company was set up. It wasn’t like we set up a company and then decided to make a game. We were immediately thrust into production. Now that we’ve finished this game, we’re taking some time to reflect on our experience rather than diving straight back into production.

Concept for the Sunset Visitor logo by Kodai Yanagawa

PnT: How did 1000xRESIST itself come to life?

Remy: I’ve been thinking about and working on the idea of clones in various capacities for a while but never found the right outlet. I saw an opportunity to tell many anthology stories. I was really inspired by short animation works like Adventure Time and Steven Universe, how they could maneuver within their worlds and tell diverse stories. Originally, at the start of the pandemic, I was working on a different project, a retail game inspired by my experiences at places like Best Buy.


But then, the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was introduced. It provided financial support to people who lost their jobs or couldn’t work during the pandemic. It was a significant shift, something we were told would be difficult to implement, yet it happened overnight. This sudden change was shocking and inspiring. It gave me the stability to work on the prototype comfortably since all my planned performances and gigs were canceled due to the pandemic. That period of possibility led me to shift from the retail game to 1000xRESIST, aiming for a project with more potential and strangeness.

PnT: It’s interesting how such a societal change influenced your creative direction. You mentioned two distinct modes in your work: a critical examination of digital labor and speculative fiction with diasporic elements. How do you reconcile these?

Remy: That’s something I’m still figuring out. These two modes, harsh capitalist critiques and speculative fiction, have played out in my previous work in the performing arts as well. The introduction of CERB felt like a rapid leap into the future, which steered me towards more speculative projects. The fallout from CERB, with the government attempting to claw back funds, was disheartening. It felt like a retreat from that initial leap forward. This oscillation between progress and retreat is something I see in Canadian policy too.

Concept art by Kodai Yanagawa

PnT: Speaking of cultural influence, I wanted to ask about your studio’s identity. What does it mean for Sunset Visitor to be a Canadian studio with a significant connection to the Chinese and Hong Kong diaspora? How important is this for you and the studio as a whole?

Remy: To clarify, our studio includes members of various Asian diasporas, not just Hong Kong. For instance, we have Japanese diaspora members as well. However, many of us, including myself and both writers, have connections to Hong Kong. For me, the key is to approach our work with a high degree of specificity. Many games discuss broad themes, often in a fictional or allegorical manner. While that’s valid, our goal is to talk about the world in specific, tangible ways. This specificity is crucial, not only for our current projects but also for any future stories we tell. We aim to maintain this level of detail and authenticity in all our work.

PnT: It’s fascinating how you emphasize specificity in your work. How does this approach shape the identity and output of your studio, especially considering its diasporic composition?

Remy: Acknowledging the various aspects of our diasporic backgrounds is crucial for the studio. It gives us a unique perspective and specific experiences that we bring into our work. Often, the more specific an experience is, the more universally relatable it can become. This specificity is important to us because it aligns with our goal of creating something meaningful and resonant, rather than just a commercial product. We are more focused on crafting games that speak to these unique experiences and stories. This might not make us the best at producing purely commercial games, but it is something we are passionate about and, hopefully, good at.


PnT: Definitely. And that leads me to another question. From what we’ve seen, your team members come from diverse artistic backgrounds—dance, theater, music, and visual arts, including your own. How does this diversity influence the development process of your games?

Remy: It was a real challenge, actually. There was a lot of culture clash, given that half of the team comes from experimental performing arts, while the other half comes from visual arts, video games, and animation backgrounds. This mix is what allowed us to synthesize something unique. We had to find a common ground because the vocabulary we use across disciplines is different. It’s like needing a Rosetta Stone but not having one. Navigating these cultural differences between disciplines, how they work, and what interests them was challenging. But it’s important to have a diversity of practice, not just diversity of people. Different disciplines and industries open up space to different types of people and ways of thinking. Despite the challenges, we were lucky because half the team had worked together for a long time, which helped integrate the new members who brought fresh perspectives, particularly in CGI, animation, and programming.

PnT: You can definitely feel that eclectic influence in the game. Speaking of artistic direction, I noticed inspirations from Metropolis, especially in the android design, and from cinematographers like Roger Deakins and director Wong Kar-Wai. Could you elaborate on your artistic influences and how you collaborated with Kodai Yanagawa on the game’s visuals?

Remy: Yes, Kodai and I shared the work on the cutscenes, which sometimes blend seamlessly with gameplay. Kodai has a unique talent for injecting emotion into his designs. Kodai is exceptionally talented at infusing affect into his designs, a quality that borders on genius, in my opinion. This talent is evident in the detailed outfits of the sisters. For instance, when I gave Kodai a prompt for Knower, it was simply that she is a sister in the library. Kodai took this brief direction and developed remarkable character designs that informed our writing process. This collaborative dynamic also applied to other characters like Fixer. Initially, we had written some scripts and dialogues for Fixer, but once Kodai presented his first drawing of her, we were so impressed that we rewrote the conversations to align with his vision.

Concept art by Kodai Yanagawa

Cinematography-wise, Roger Deakins and Christopher Doyle are big influences. I was fortunate to meet Christopher Doyle in Hong Kong, which was a memorable experience. His work in Wong Kar Wai films and beyond significantly influenced our visual storytelling. This mix of influences allowed us to create something that felt cohesive yet rich in diversity.

Concept art by Kodai Yanagawa
Concept art by Kodai Yanagawa

PnT: It’s interesting to see where these influences come from. You mentioned science fiction references in your work. Can you tell me more about your sci-fi inspirations and how they shaped the game’s narrative?

Remy: Yeah, I think a significant reference for me is Star Trek. I actually learned to speak English by watching Star Trek and playing video games like Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, and Indiana Jones. These experiences were foundational for me. Star Trek, particularly the 90s series, had a profound impact. Episodes from Deep Space Nine like The Visitor and Far Beyond the Stars, as well as Darmok and The Inner Light from The Next Generation, were especially influential. These episodes delved deeply into the human spirit and explored what it means to be human, something that 90s Star Trek did exceptionally well. This approach has significantly influenced my thinking about science fiction.


As a result, much of the game leans towards soft sci-fi. While we aim to keep the lore interconnected and comprehensive, the focus remains on a more human-centered, softer sci-fi perspective. My interest lies in examining the human condition, often through a magical realist lens, rather than a strictly hard science fiction approach. Adventure Time, though not traditionally considered science fiction, has also influenced my storytelling. The show reminded me that narratives can be both funny and profound. It demonstrates how you can weave together multiple timelines and unexpected connections, which has inspired my narrative approach. Adventure Time‘s blend of humor and depth has been a crucial influence on how I think about storytelling in the sci-fi genre.

PnT: Speaking of complex storytelling, the narrative design in your game is dense and rich, with different characters and timelines. How did you structure the narrative to keep it clear and comprehensive?

Remy: Structuring the narrative was incredibly challenging. We approached it by developing the game chapter by chapter, almost like serialized storytelling. We would complete one chapter fully before moving on to the next, which helped maintain clarity and coherence. This episodic approach, even though we never released it that way, was essential in managing the intricate plot and character development.


PnT: So you worked on the chapter in the “right” order?

Remy: The episodic structure allowed us to really delve into each chapter and understand what was needed before moving on to the next. This approach let us fully experience each part of the game, ensuring that every chapter was developed organically. Games are highly experiential and embodied, making it difficult to abstract them accurately without fully engaging with each segment. Unlike a string quartet, where a trained musician can understand the piece by reading the manuscript, a game’s true essence often emerges only through interaction. This is why developing the game episodically was crucial—it let us discover the narrative’s needs as we progressed. For example, as we developed more chapters, the overall structure became clearer. The first five chapters mirror the next five in various ways. For instance, Chapter 6 features a more open environment similar to Chapter 1, while Chapters 2 and 7 are first-person experiences. This mirroring helped us maintain a coherent structure throughout the game.

PnT: Did you have the ending of the game in mind from the beginning, even though you were developing it episodically?

Remy: Oh yeah, we did have an ending in mind along with a broad macro structure. However, as we progressed, the narrative evolved organically. We often strayed from our initial plans because we wanted to listen to what the game was telling us. For instance, Chapter 7 turned out very differently than we expected, which made us rethink Chapter 8.


PnT: Chapter 6 left a significant impact on players, including myself. Those chapters deal with some difficult themes, some of them very violent. Did you impose any limits on the way you approached and portrayed them?

Remy: We never felt there were limits on the themes we could explore, but we were careful and honest in our portrayal. For example, we discussed the graphic scenes, such as the hamster being microwaved and Watcher being blinded, to ensure they weren’t gratuitous. We wanted to handle these tough experiences responsibly. Watcher’s death in Chapter 8 wasn’t planned from the beginning. It became clear after Chapter 7’s development that her character needed to be deeply affected by the events. We wanted to reflect the reality that people don’t easily recover from such traumatic experiences.

Concept art by Kodai Yanagawa

PnT: The gameplay in the communion segments is quite unique. How did you decide on this structure, especially the mix of loop systems and more traditional exploration?

Remy: All traditional gameplay elements were introduced for narrative reasons. We were very careful about not including gameplay just for the sake of it. The ‘zipping’ mechanic, for example, was included to foreshadow the existence of another layer of communion. It was essential for signaling to players that they were inside some form of simulation.

The time jump system was also introduced to tell stories out of chronological order. This became a fundamental game mechanic that we refined over time. For instance, in Chapter 8, the disintegration of Watcher’s spirit and the chaotic memories reflect her mental state as she was dying. After Chapter 1, we realized the enormous effort required to create such expansive, explorative spaces. So, we adapted by introducing smaller, more focused environments with varying timelines in later chapters. This balance between space size and timeline complexity helped us maintain narrative cohesion while exploring different gameplay dynamics.


PnT: The iteration process seems to have been a significant part of development.

Remy: Indeed, it was. Each iteration allowed us to refine the gameplay and narrative, ensuring that every element served the story we wanted to tell. This iterative approach was essential in creating a coherent and impactful experience for players.

PnT: The voice recording in the game is exceptional, which is not something we usually see in indie games. Often, voice acting in indie games is either absent or not as polished. How did you achieve such high-quality voice performances?

Remy: From the beginning, I knew I wanted the game to be fully voiced because we come from a performing arts background, and we felt confident in our ability to contribute in this area. We believed that strong voice acting would significantly enhance the player’s experience, so we leaned into it heavily.

PnT: How did you go about casting the voice actors and working with them to achieve these performances?

Remy: We were very deliberate in our casting process. We sought out performers who could bring the characters to life authentically. Some were professional actors, while others were not, but they all brought a unique quality to their roles. Working with them was a collaborative process, ensuring that their performances aligned with the narrative.

PnT: That’s interesting. Could you share more about the casting process and any challenges you faced?

Remy: Casting involved a mix of auditions and reaching out to performers we already knew from our performing arts connections. One of the challenges was ensuring that the voice performances matched the emotional tone we wanted to convey. It required careful direction and sometimes multiple takes to get the right delivery. However, having a strong rapport with the actors helped overcome these challenges.

I’ll take a moment here to shout out to one of our staff, N. Tan, who selected a majority of the takes! That was a long, laborious process.

PnT: The voice acting in your game feels incredibly authentic and engaging. You mentioned working with a diverse group of performers. Can you elaborate on how you approached voice direction and writing to achieve such natural performances?

Remy: Absolutely. For the voiceover, we knew we wanted fully voiced characters from the start. Our background in performing arts gave us confidence in this area. We worked with a mix of performers, including film actors, theater actors, dancers, and even those with no formal training. One key aspect of voice direction is the writing. We aimed to write dialogue that gave actors enough space to interpret and bring their own nuances to the lines. This approach allowed actors to surprise us and the players with their performances.


PnT: How did you ensure that the actors’ performances remained authentic, especially when transitioning from stage acting to voice acting?

Remy: It was about finding honesty in their performances. For actors used to theater, we reminded them that they didn’t need to project their voices as they would on stage. Instead, they could focus on subtlety and nuance, which the microphone could capture. This adjustment often led to surprising and impressive performances. We also recorded episodically, allowing the actors’ interpretations to influence the writing of subsequent episodes. This iterative process helped create a more dynamic and authentic portrayal of the characters.

PnT: Recording episodically sounds like it added an element of discovery for the actors. How did this impact their performances and the overall narrative?

Remy: Definitely. Recording in episodes meant that the actors, like their characters, didn’t know what would happen next. This approach kept their performances fresh and genuine, mirroring the characters’ own uncertainties and developments. It added a layer of authenticity, as the actors discovered their characters’ journeys in real-time, just as the audience would.

PnT: Transitioning to the game’s world, it presents a complex and unsettling vision of the future. How did you develop this setting, both visually and narratively, starting from the near destruction of humanity?

Remy: We wanted to set the story far enough in the future that it felt unfamiliar and required players to piece together the history of what happened. This distant setting allowed us to create a unique microcosm where we could explore specific themes in depth. While the future depicted is disturbing, we included elements that could seem almost idyllic, like walking through the Orchard. This contrast highlights the complexities of the world we built and invites players to engage with the narrative on multiple levels.

Concept art by Kodai Yanagawa
Concept art by Kodai Yanagawa

PnT: That distance from the present seems to enhance the speculative nature of the narrative. How did real-world events, such as the Hong Kong protests, influence the game’s themes and setting?

Remy: My interest in incorporating Hong Kong into speculative fiction has been long-standing, even before this game. We’ve noticed a lack of science fiction that culturally references the Hong Kong diaspora or Hong Kong itself, despite Hong Kong’s architectural influence on iconic works like Blade Runner, Stray, and Ghost in the Shell. Cyberpunk often borrows from Hong Kong’s aesthetic, but rarely do we see stories about the Hong Kong diaspora within these futures.

Several factors contribute to this gap, possibly due to infrastructural and economic reasons. However, there are emerging projects that address this, such as an animated film currently being made in Hong Kong called Dragon’s Delusion and an indie game called Name of the Will. A persistent question for the Hong Kong diaspora is whether we have a future, especially given the ongoing political uncertainties. This uncertainty extends to the survival of the language and culture. These concerns fueled our interest in embedding Hong Kong-specific stories into a far-flung science fiction context, exploring themes of identity and future prospects.


For instance, an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, titled Far Beyond the Stars, profoundly influenced me by showing that science fiction can directly address real-world issues like race, instead of relying solely on allegory. This direct approach demonstrated that speculative fiction could tackle significant contemporary issues head-on, which is a perspective we’ve carried into our work.

PnT: The narrative design of the game is dense and rich, layering many layers of readings on the game and many dialogues. We live through a coherent story, made up of several characters, several eras and intertwined memories, and yet it remains very clear and comprehensible, a feat of writing. To what extent was the structure of the narrative a challenge for you? 

Remy: Sure, the creative process was very iterative and collaborative. We started by casting the voice actors before finalizing the script, using fake scripts to understand the characters. This allowed us to write with the actors’ voices in mind, creating a more cohesive and dynamic narrative. Our goal was to build a world that felt both rich and believable, where every element, from the characters to the setting, contributed to the overarching story. We drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including real-world events and speculative fiction, to craft a narrative that was both engaging and thought-provoking.

PnT: It’s great to hear how the game impacted players, especially with such profound themes of family and loss. More generally, the game is also about transmission, knowledge, memories, grief and trauma. In particular, we understand that Allmother is the source of all the sisters and that they all have a part of her or will need to have a part of her to be able to move forward and break this cycle of domination/revolution.

Remy: In the game, we wanted to explore how ancestral trauma and memories shape individuals. This is something we’re seeing more frequently in modern media, whether in books or video games. There’s a growing recognition of how the trauma of one’s ancestors can influence decisions, behaviors, and even one’s way of being. This idea resonated with us deeply.


PnT: It’s a compelling theme. Did you intend for the players to ponder over what to retain for future generations, particularly in the game’s ending?

Remy: I think about this a lot, especially with one of the writers, Pinky. We discuss how certain behaviors, which we consider part of our cultural identity, often stem from poverty. For example, saving small bits of food or other frugal habits might not be necessary in our current, more privileged circumstances, but we still do them. This behavior can also be seen in other cultures. A Polish friend of mine shared how his dad saves a lot of fresh fruit, and there was a famous hockey player in Vancouver from Russia who once tried to buy out an entire grocery store because he was overwhelmed by the abundance.

These behaviors are passed down through generations, sometimes without us fully understanding their origins. They can be good, bad, or neutral, and they raise questions about what we should hold onto and what we should let go of, especially as members of the diaspora.

Living in North America, we encounter a broader societal emphasis on healing oneself. While healing is undoubtedly good, it sometimes pushes us to erase aspects of our cultural behaviors that might seem negative. But these behaviors are heirlooms of our experiences and histories. It’s a complex dilemma: do we hold on to potentially harmful behaviors because they are part of our identity, or do we let them go for the sake of healing?


We don’t have a clear answer. It’s an ongoing process of making active choices every day. There’s also the challenge of transforming these behaviors into something new and positive without losing the essence of our heritage. This is particularly crucial for the diaspora, as we strive to retain our unique identities while avoiding being homogenized into a melting pot.

These themes are explored in the game, especially in the final section of Chapter 10. Players face difficult choices about what to remember and what to let go, mirroring the complex decisions we face in real life. For instance, facing the parents in the game, despite being set 1,000 years after their time, still evokes a deep connection and understanding of their experiences. The game prompts players to decide what parts of their heritage to keep, emphasizing the nuanced and ongoing nature of these decisions.

PnT: The game’s narrative indeed prompts deep reflection. Another interesting aspect is the choice to focus predominantly on female characters. Can you discuss this decision? Can we consider 1000xRESIST a queer game?

Remy: I think to a certain extent, we do see it that way, and it’s clear that others are picking up on it too. Our narrative naturally led us into this space, especially influenced by Iris and Jiao, which precedes the premise and significantly impacts it.

We embraced ideas from other queer artists we’ve collaborated with and are friends with, particularly the concept of ‘queering form.’ This involves rethinking and de-centering traditional forms, steering away from monolithic narratives. This approach also ties into the culturally specific nature of our game. We wanted to de-center individualism. A review from Eurogamer that highlighted our game said it was not made for/with the ‘white gaze.’ This is significant because the three of us writers come from Hong Kong, Malaysian, or mixed backgrounds.

Concept art by Kodai Yanagawa

As noted in the Eurogamer article, the themes in our game emerged from a convergence of various factors happening simultaneously. We intentionally chose to limit male characters, with only a few present, such as the father and figures from the past, like those in hazmat suits. In one of the game’s endings, there’s a subtle inclusion that hasn’t been widely recognized yet. At the end of the game, during the epilogue where you talk to future Blue, there is a radio transmission from a ship or something called ‘Ephemeral,’ voiced by a man. I’ll leave it there and see if people pick up on what that may mean for the Sisters’ futures and the state of the world beyond the Orchard.

PnT: This is a mystery story with many plot twists. Was it your intention from the outset to have this kind of story for the game? What concepts or mechanics have been used to reinforce this relationship between memories and the present in a way that is meaningful to players?

Remy: I mean, I think it was never our intention to strictly categorize the game as belonging to the mystery genre or to create a piece of fiction within that genre. Instead, our approach was influenced by science fiction and speculative fiction that I find particularly effective. These genres often contain an element of mystery that gnaws at you, something at the edges that you don’t fully understand, which compels you to grasp for answers.

In traditional media, you see this in old episodes of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, or short stories from the golden era of science fiction. These narratives present scenarios that leave you questioning, sometimes resolving the mystery and sometimes letting it linger. More contemporary examples include shows like Lost, Severance, and The Leftovers, where the mystery is central to the story’s appeal, often described as ‘puzzle box’ shows. Any shows from Damon Lindeloff actually.


The influence of these works shaped our narrative approach. We didn’t aim to create a strict detective mystery, but rather a story where players don’t have all the answers at any given moment. This uncertainty keeps players engaged and curious, mirroring my own experiences as an audience of such media. For instance, when I played Nier, I was so absorbed by the game’s unfolding mysteries that I had to stop working altogether. The need to understand what was happening in the game took precedence over everything else.

PnT: It’s fascinating how every element is interwoven to support the overall narrative. Could you elaborate on how the final chapters encapsulate these themes?

Remy: The final chapters are designed to bring everything together. Players are faced with choices that reflect the culmination of their journey and the themes we’ve explored throughout the game. The climax involves making decisions about what aspects of the past to carry forward, which directly ties back to the themes of memory, trauma, and cultural inheritance. It’s about confronting the past and deciding how it will shape the future.

PnT: The game seems to draw from a variety of thematic influences, including post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk elements, but mainly about hope punk I think. Can you speak to how these themes are woven into the narrative?

Remy: Yeah, I think we’re influenced by a lot of different sources, even if there wasn’t a specific movement that guided us directly. Our inspirations came from various works and their approaches to storytelling and character development. It’s interesting that you mention Hope Punk because, upon reflection, that theme does resonate with what we aimed to achieve. Even though the game has been described as ‘incessantly grim,’ which is true to an extent, our goal was to leave players with a sense of tangible hope. This isn’t necessarily the typical hopeful feeling about the future, but more an affective hope that inspires action or reflection. We’ve seen some players mention that the game made them feel like they wanted to write or create something artistic, and that’s the kind of hope we aimed to evoke.


One of our highest desires as artists is to make something that inspires others to create. So, when you describe the game as Hope Punk, it makes sense. We wanted to convey a sense of hope that motivates people to make things, even if the story itself has moments of ambiguity or grimness. This feeling of emptiness that drives the desire to create is something I relate to deeply as an artist. When I feel empty, creating is my way of filling that void.

PnT: That’s a powerful message. How did you personally experience this balance of emptiness and fullness through the game’s development?

Remy: It’s a feeling I chase in all forms of art. Whether it’s in food, literature, or a city itself, I’m constantly searching for that moment of awe. It’s like the Nexus in Star Trek Generations, where you’re always trying to position yourself to experience that sense of wonder. Making this game was about creating a space where players could feel that mix of emptiness and inspiration, driving them to make something of their own.

PnT: What is your ultimate hope for players who engage with your game?

Remy: It’s interesting to be asked this question now that the game is out and people have had a chance to engage with it, as opposed to before its release when we had no idea how it would be received. I don’t want to provide a specific answer because I don’t want to dictate what players should take away from the game. However, I do have a few hopes. Firstly, I hope the game does well so we can continue making games. More importantly, I hope that more games that focus on diaspora can be made. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen an emergence of games focusing on diasporic experiences, such as Thirsty Suitors, Venba, and others. Even before that, the games of Analgesic Productions.

My ultimate hope is that we continue to see more games engaging with these diasporic experiences. I saw a post on co-host where someone expressed feeling like they might not be the ‘right kind of Asian’ to relate to the work, and that’s something I hope people won’t feel in the future. I want there to be a future where there’s enough work out there dealing with these diverse experiences so that no one feels like any single piece of work has to represent all of the diaspora. The diaspora is not a monolith; there are countless pockets of experiences and stories yet to be told. My hope is that in the future, we have a wealth of stories being told in games and other mediums, allowing people in the diaspora to find those that resonate specifically with them. I hope we reach a point where everyone can find a piece of work that truly speaks to their unique experience.


PnT: That’s an admirable goal. Do you feel the weight of representing these narratives?

Remy: Yes, it’s definitely a responsibility I don’t 100% want to bear and shouldn’t bear. I want to see an explosion of diverse stories that are told in diverse ways.Of course, it’s very hard to get a game made at all, it’s always a miracle for any game to even exist. It’s even harder when we’re trying to tell these types of stories. But I hope it will become commonplace in games.

If you look on, there’s already a lot of this kind of work. But I’m talking about games that get supported with funding and studios that can grow around these narratives, something that goes beyond just solo developer projects (not that this shouldn’t exist too). This applies not just to Asian diasporic stories, but to any diverse stories. I hope to see a variety of narratives appear.

Interestingly, it might be more likely to happen in games than in film. We already see it in literature, where the barriers for creation are lower. Film, on the other hand, is very expensive to make, even at an indie level, and extremely hard to distribute meaningfully. So, I really hope that games can become a medium where diasporic creators can let their imaginations run wild in ways that might not be possible in film or other media. These are the kinds of games I want to play. I want to have the experience of encountering something entirely new to me, a perspective I hadn’t considered and can’t really know because of my position, and previously unexplored to their fullest extent in games.”

Share your thoughts