Releasing on February 5, 2021, Arrog is Nakana.io’s first PS4 (also playable on PS5) release. This brief narrative features hand drawn art and a few puzzle segments without a user interface.
The developers released some details about this upcoming experimental game.
The places with the black background are the Peruvian Jungle (Amazonian rainforest).
The places with the white background are metaphoric places of the imagination of the main character.
The cultural identity represented in Arrog is the idea of how in Amazonia and also in the highlands of Latin America, death is not only a sad experience, but it has a larger meaning.
This comes from the relationship people have with nature. They perceive death as the natural part of the necessary balance and the cycle of life.
This aspect is shown party through the Capybaras. In the game, the main character is a hunter, and he hunts Capybaras to survive (even if they are an endangered species).
A more obvious reference to this traditional view on death is the final “mourning scene” where the body is surrounded by musicians.
In Peru, when somebody dies, people cry but also drink, sing and play music, remembering the person with sadness but also with joy. In a way it is also a celebration of life, almost like an ultimate birthday celebration. Life and death are seen as two halves of a whole.
The main inspiration for the art comes from the Mate burilado – gourds (a kind of pumpkin) carved and painted. It’s an art/craft traditional from Peru and it tells different traditions and customs about nature and people.
How did the cooperation between Hermanos Magia and LEAP Game Studios happen?
I’m the director of Hermanos Magia, one of the first illustration studios in Peru. For a long time I’ve wanted to do something that is different from what you can find in the medium and especially from Latin America and Peru. After a game jam I approached LEAP to show them drawings of an art project I had. They liked it, and we started to plan the project.
From my experience in Peru, there’s a strong tendency in which art and science are divided by social prejudices from both sides. Working with LEAP was key as I felt that it was the only space in which this barrier wasn’t so thick and there was more flexibility to the contents I was bringing.
Why did you decide to illustrate the game almost entirely in monochrome?
Talking about an idea within death is complicated. Immediately it generates rejection or fear or though that the developer has some perverse interest. In this sense, the art direction of Arrog was very important, to make sure that the theme of death was put in the right light.
When and why do you use colour accents?
Color has an important emotive component and in the game it has a positive charge, it was used as an abstract form of accepting death. Many times when a game uses color it tries to make things more close to what is real, a usual resource in many games, even more when it has a realistic style. That is why color arrives late in the game, the idea is to ask why everything was black and white. Maybe we were always in the protagonist’s dream?
What is the unique viewpoint that Peruvian art can bring to a video game?
I could say that the unique point of view is about talking about with our own Latin American voice. The visual style is inspired by the traditional art of Peru, specifically by the “Mates burilados” and Sarhua tables. These two are important because they speak about the events of a community and only through a drawing that is also very simple. It was very interesting to use these because of their simplicity and humility – it took some weight from the death in the art. The style was very intimate and simple, letting a window to the content, to let anyone experience it a bit differently based on their own mind.
Why did you want to tell a story about coming to terms with death?
When someone dies we have an attitude that is automatically about pessimism and sadness, we need to dress elegantly and in black. Why is that the only way?
Out of the big cities this changes, death is more integrated to the daily routine because there is a more conscious relationship with natural spaces where people live, with more relationship with nature. Also, this is celebrated with music and is remembered with joyfulness. I think it is healthy to talk about death in this way because we live in societies that constantly promote consumerism as something that makes us happy although I think that’s an important element of unhappiness for many people, especially for those who have a lot. In that sense, accepting death is also accepting that the human being who died is not the only one in the world – that not everything moves around them.