CREATOR SPOTLIGHT! An Interview with Norihisa Kochiwa - The Producer of the Death end re;Quest Series and CEO of Compile Heart!

CREATOR SPOTLIGHT! An Interview with Norihisa Kochiwa - The Producer of the Death end re;Quest Series and CEO of Compile Heart!

1st Jul 2020

Game: Death end re;Quest™ 2
Release Date: August 25, 2020 (NA)
August 28, 2020 (EU) 
Platform: PlayStation®4 and Steam® 
ESRB: M for Mature

The launch of Death end re;Quest™ 2 is coming upon us fast in August for the West and we're very excited for fans to jump right back into the universe of Death end re;Quest. The first installment of the series released in Japan for the PlayStation®4 in April 2018 followed by a Western release in February 2019 (May 2019 for Steam®). Fans were surprised by the game's dark premise and its blend of Visual Novel and RPG elements. 

The Death end re;Quest series would not be what it is without the hard work of its creators. We're excited to present the first of three interviews featuring the creators of Death end re;Quest and the second installment, Death end re;Quest 2.

Today's interview features Norihisa Kochiwa, the Producer of the Death end re;Quest series and also the CEO of Compile Heart! Check it out below!

Norihisa Kochiwa

Team Iffy: Compile Heart is known for the flagship title, Neptunia™, as well as other cutesy JRPGs. When people first heard about Death end re;Quest, fans of Compile Heart games, at least in the States, were surprised at the dark direction Compile Heart took. Was the Compile Heart staff excited for this new, uncharted territory, and were Japanese fans excited as well?

Mr. Kochiwa: Our staff is split between people who are horror fans and those who are not, so it was a hell of a challenge to get through it. Same goes for our Japanese fanbase. Among the Compile Heart fans, there was a mixed reaction from people who weren’t too fond of horror—but horror fans loved it!

Team Iffy: What can fans expect from the sequel? Will there be any recurring characters and additional lore that will give the audience a better understanding of the world?

Mr. Kochiwa: This time there’s a different protagonist. However, as players progress, they will eventually see the connections tethering this installment’s world to the first game. We’re sure fans of the first game will get a kick out of it.

Team Iffy: Alternatively, what can newcomers expect in this game, especially newcomers who are interested JRPGs and visual novels?

Mr. Kochiwa: We designed the story to be enjoyed regardless if one has played the first installment. We wanted to give it a novel kind of spark for players to experience but also make it easy to navigate on the first go-round. As far as the plot goes, I wanted players to bask in the same fear and dread the characters feel in the game!

Team Iffy: Like in Death end re;Quest, the main characters in Death end re;Quest 2 experience traumatic events that shape their personalities. As for the story of Death end re;Quest 2 (with the help of Scenario Writer, Makoto Kedouin), were you genuinely scared of the depth of these characters and their personal struggles in the game? Can you relate and empathize with any of the characters?

Mr. Kochiwa: I empathize most with Liliana. Her story is absolutely tragic. Although I would say Liliana is very self-reliant, she’s the youngest among the trio with Mai and Rottie, so she tries hard not to seem too self-conscious. Players will eventually learn the nature of her relationship with her parents, which pains me even to think about.

Team Iffy: Death end re;Quest 2 introduces brand new characters, including the protagonist, Mai. Give us an introduction as to who Mai Toyama is in this game and how her personality differs from Shina's. Any similarities?

Mr. Kochiwa: Mai’s incredibly harsh upbringing makes it hard for her to interact with others socially. She keeps a healthy distance between herself and others. However, it’s her little sister, Sanae, who happens to be her last living kin, that keeps her going. Mai isn’t unthinking or ignorant. She can be standoffish, but she’s sharp and empathetic, which is all part of her charm. I hope players will be able to see how bright she really shines once they get to know her.

Although Mai and Shina’s personalities seem opposite, both of them are strong-willed, take agency, and trust their friends unconditionally.

Team Iffy: Being surrounded with a project like this could be mentally draining, especially with the heavy topics discussed. Did you find yourselves having nightmares during the production of Death end re;Quest 2? Any memorable nightmares?

Mr. Kochiwa: We didn’t want players to experience only fear! Our idea was to show the main characters overcoming obstacles, which in itself was challenging to write. I always say it’s not strictly about cruelty, but more so showing the bond between the three girls in times of duress. But I will say, this game did give me torturous nightmares.

Team Iffy: Death end re;Quest 2 explores the kawaii and horror aesthetic. How do you balance cuteness and horror within the game? Or does one shine a lot more than the other?

Mr. Kochiwa: Cuteness and horror may seem antithetical, but they actually mesh quite well together. If we had lacked one or the other, I don’t think the idea would translate as well. Therefore, conceptually we started with the cute elements, then introduced the horror later. For example, we would sort of picture the cutesy characters first, then imagine what kind of grisly outcome they would face, accentuating the horror of their arc. Imagine one of those classic horror-film shower scenes, where danger lurks just around the corner.

Team Iffy: After you beat Death end re;Quest 2, players will have the opportunity to play “Desuriku 2,” which involves these mysterious blue creatures. Could you expand on the concept of this mini-game and where this idea came from?

Mr. Kochiwa: It all started from one of our staff mentioning that it would be neat to collaborate with a similar horror game. That’s when Ao Oni, a popular horror game in Japan, was proposed. Because Death end re;Quest 2 had several moments where players are being chased, we devised a mini-game blending the originally-2D Ao Oni with 3D gameplay to pursue the character.

That wraps up the first of the three Creator Spotlights! Stay tuned for next interview launching on July 14 with the Death end re;Quest series' main artist, Kei Nanameda!

Don't forget that you can now wishlist the Death end re;Quest 2 Limited Edition and Standard Edition at our online store! Preorder date will be announced soon.

Death end re;Quest 2 Limited Edition ($99.99):

Death end re;Quest 2 Standard Edition ($49.99):