There’s no shortage of video games that see you unleash waves of destruction on cities, but it’s rare to see any that show the chaos from the perspective of ordinary inhabitants. Bandai Namco’s City Shrouded in Shadow, set for release on PS4 in Japan next month, is all about that — it casts you as regular people living in a city that also happens to be hosting battles between titanic kaiju monsters.
The cast includes Godzilla, Ultraman, mecha from Evangelion, and more; their presence has ravaged the fictional Japanese city, as you might expect. City Shrouded in Shadow is an action-adventure game set within these ruins where your goal is to navigate the city and survive the battles between beasts too gigantic to pay you much thought.
The game has much in common with Disaster Report, a cult series by Irem that began on the PS2, and serves as a spiritual successor; developer Granzella was started by series creator Kazuma Kujo. Disaster Report and its sequel, Raw Danger, tasked the player with escaping natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, and the games won quite a few hearts with their quirky charm and unconventional storytelling. The third game, on PSP, never made it to the West, however, and the fourth for PS3 was delayed and subsequently canceled following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Granzella is also in the process of redeveloping that one for PS4.
City Shrouded in Shadow might be a tough sell for anyone who wasn’t a fan of the previous games. From my brief look at Tokyo Game Show, it shares the series’ odd sense of humor, somewhat obtuse mission design, and total lack of concern for technical proficiency. But it looks like it has a ton of heart, too, and the kaiju focus could open it up to a wider audience. I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with it next month.
No word on a Western release just yet — global licensing issues could be nightmarishly complex for this one. Bandai Namco did at least take the time to give the Japanese title (Kyoei Toshi) an evocative English translation, though, so here’s hoping.