***April 3rd, 2015 – UPDATE: Hanako has launched their kickstarter campaign! Check it out and consider supporting this hardworking team. ***
Samurais have always been cool. Thankfully, their reputation survived the scare of Tom Cruise playing one in 2003 and they’re still popular to this day. People in every corner of the world have fantasized about wielding a katana sword in Medieval Japan. That fantasy is set to become a gaming reality with the soon to be released Hanako – Soul of the Samurai.
Created by Atlanta’s own Matt Canei, Hanako (@hanakogame) is a journey through a beautiful, fictional rendition of 16th century Feudal Japan. Players choose between four types of warriors as they learn to master intuitive, directionally-driven swordplay while also choosing unique abilities to ensure victory over their foes online.
Matt came up with the idea for Hanako in the fall of 2007 after his mother passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. “She was the closest person on the planet to me, I had an idea for a game from many years before and the idea of forming it came out of the grieving process as a tribute to honor her memory and kind of introduce the world to her beauty, love and appreciation of nature through artistic expression in our game,” said Canei. The word Hanako means “flower child” in Japanese and is also the Japanese equivalent of Jane, his mother’s name.
Matt has built Hanako under +Mpact Games, a gaming studio comprised of 12 volunteers that are located all over the US and world. On the back end, it is developed using Unreal Engine 4. If you’re not familiar with the awesomeness that is this gaming engine, you should take a virtual tour of this Parisian Apartment. Fancy taking a romantic getaway there? Well, you can’t. Why? That isn’t a real place. It’s a digital apartment built by CG designer Dereau Benoît. What makes Unreal Engine 4 so special is that it, “enables developers to achieve stunning visuals and also scale elegantly to lower-end systems,” according to its creators, Epic Games.
The game’s artistic qualities and backstory have lit a fire under the gaming community. In just a few days, it has climbed to number 20 of about 2,000 games on Steam Greenlight, a community voting platform to have games published via Steam, a digital distribution service for games. And it’s still climbing. Moreover, Epic Games are extremely supportive and are said to be excited as well. “We’re currently awaiting announcement on whether we will be exhibiting with them at GDC or not,” claims Canei.
If you’re a PC gamer, stay on the lookout for Hanako. The hype surrounding this local production is staggering & it could have some serious staying power in Atlanta’s growing game development community.
Check out their trajectory (in green). They are crushing the #5 ranked game.
[Photo Credit- Hanako]