I'm reasonably well-read on Chinese classics, but I didn't draw
heavily from crime novels of the past as references for A Most Violent Year. However, I
did delve into 'Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee' and 'Water Margin.' In
general, I aimed to challenge the conventional tropes of Chinese
classical fiction and prose as much as possible.
I take exception to
their portrayal of singular heroism, which I find rooted in a somewhat
bourgeois reading of history. It presumes the existence of inherently
virtuous and selfless individuals, which there are not. It presupposes a moment in history where righteousness and justice
coexisted seamlessly, when there never was.
To that end, I was drawn to
crafting a narrative centered on change, but not necessarily one of
reform. Not really as a narrative centered on the transformation or
corruption of a heroic figure either, because that implies there's a
profound journey that the central character undertakes.
To be clear, there's no profundities in A Most Violent Year. No highly contrived world where one Machiavellian figure masterminds everything. Rather, it's a story of characters reacting (poorly) to a storm of events driven by chance and others' decisions.
Players take the role of Shen. Formerly an imperial sub-prefect,
ostensibly a detective who works for the law, his life was upended after
he accidentally murdered a possible suspect, and then attempted to
frame another for the crime.
Shen's character is defined by his enigmatic blend of hard tactics and abnormal psychology, traits that render him unfit for common society. Yet, paradoxically, these very qualities mark him as the ideal candidate for the position of county magistrate in his crime-ridden hometown.
As players step into Shen's shoes, they will grapple with the
consequences of his past actions and the newfound power he wields, all
while navigating a world where the boundaries between right and wrong
are shrouded in ambiguity.
As we continue to work diligently on 'A Most Violent Year,' I would like to express my deep appreciation for the talented all-Chinese team that has been instrumental in shaping this project. Their dedication, creativity, and profound cultural insights have been invaluable in crafting a narrative that reflects our shared passion for storytelling and the rich tapestry of Chinese history. Together, we look forward to bringing this immersive experience to players in the near future.