So basically, the story is that Top Hat Studios is releasing a game on Nintendo Switch on January 7th called Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story. The game already released on Steam in August last year, where it received mostly positive user reviews with an 82% user review rating. The game was a Kickstarter project, where it received $60,000 on a $10,000 goal back in 2018. The game is also planned for release on PS4, PS Vita, and Xbox One at a later date. This is a summary of the game from the Nintendo listing:
Inspired by classic adventure games and the origins of the survival horror genre, Sense – A Cyberpunk Ghost Story celebrates the slow, cerebral creep of dread instead of relying on over-the-top action or jump scares. With careful attention to pacing, atmosphere and storytelling, this futuristic tale seamlessly blends 2.5D exploration and problem solving with suspenseful ghost encounters that act as paranormal glitches in our own reality.
In Neo Hong Kong, 2083, a young woman named Mei Lin Mak is dragged into a maelstrom of supernatural horror. As she peers into the century old mystery, Mei is forced to question her perception of reality and her trust of her cybernetic eyes. Under the neon lights of a cyberpunk cityscape, the ruins of the Chong Sing Apartments hide a bloody secret illuminated by the traditions of Chinese folklore and innovations of the industrial future. If there is any hope of escaping this nightmare, Mei Lin must explore this complex, piecing together stories of 14 lost souls and discovering the truth of her own family curse
And some screenshots and artwork of the game:
Well, it seems that the game managed to raise the hackles of various people, who then started attacking the game publicly on social media and sending emails to the developer. The developer of the game released a statement condemning the calls for censorship, some of which included calls for violence and even death threats, and refused to censor the game.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING CALLS DEMANDING CENSORSHIP OF SENSE - 不祥的预感: A CYBERPUNK GHOST STORY— Top Hat Studios, Inc (@TopHatStudiosEN) January 1, 2021
Our commitment to our audience and to developers is we will never infringe on creative freedom or expression. pic.twitter.com/VV5IcGbJ7P
After the post was made, many people, particularly on a ResetEra thread, were skeptical of the devs claim, with some claiming that they fabricated the whole story just to get free marketing for the game ahead of the console release, since the PC release wasn't all that successful, selling less than 20,000 copies since August according to Steam Spy.
Then the developer decided to release a second statement along with screenshots of some of the messages they have received on social media and emails across a chain of 5 tweets:
We originally did not want to make this post, as to not accidentally incite a search for these posters and cause further fights. However, as there are now industry-adjacent people slandering/gaslighting us as liars, we've compiled a sampling from twitter, FB, and email. (1/5) pic.twitter.com/TJlNS4tWTd— Top Hat Studios, Inc (@TopHatStudiosEN) January 2, 2021
"We originally did not want to make this post, as to not accidentally incite a search for these posters and cause further fights. However, as there are now industry-adjacent people slandering/gaslighting us as liars, we've compiled a sampling from twitter, FB, and email. Skepticism is healthy in this industry, but it is not universally applied. Not only were many of these comments actively findable in <10 seconds to verify, but many "curious" individuals seem to have a vetted interest in slandering us as liars because of their connections. We don't blame people for being skeptical; but keep this energy toward other claims. This isn't a marketing campaign. The game released 5 months ago originally. This was a pre-emptive response to what we saw as a rising, ridiculous spread of lies and slurs aimed at us. We can play semantics, but if you can't understand why a response to such is needed, you're being willfully obtuse. We couldn't let false, hateful info spread, and also wanted to reinforce our stance against creative infringement. It certainly got bigger than we expected. With that said, we appreciate, sincerely, the overwhelming support - really. As we said we didn't want to make this post, but we aren't going to allow people to spread lies - no less from those with a vetted interest in calling us liars. We aren't changing Sense's content."
The screenshotted comments seem to range from those who are angry because the main character is apparently trans, to those who think the game is promoting violence against women (presumably just because it is a horror game with a playable female character), to those who think it is a porn game (the ESRB rating mentions nothing about nudity or sex, just suggestive themes), to those unhappy about the main character having large breasts. A few of the comments/messages say things like "I hope you get shot" or "I hope you get the rope" or "sincerely kill yourselves".
Another studio, whose game is being published by Top Hat Studios, came to their defense, releasing this statement:
2) Top Hat Studios has always been excellent to us, and has never once imposed any sort of creative restriction on us beyond just following the law. We've appreciated this freedom more as time goes on and many publishers increasingly restrict the content of their creators,— The Girl from Arkanya (@ArkanyaGame) January 2, 2021
"We had originally planned to stay out of this fight, but it seems that the attacks against our publisher have only increased rather than blown over, so I'm going to give my two cents on it. Top Hat Studios has always been excellent to us, and has never once imposed any sort of creative restriction on us beyond just following the law. We've appreciated this freedom more as time goes on and many publishers increasingly restrict the content of their creators, attempting to filter what audiences are allowed to see and hear rather than allow customers to make their own choices. We strive to make The Girl from Arkanya a family-friendly game, but there may come a day when the angry mob comes after us for reasons we never expected, and if/when that happens, I'm glad that we have a publisher who will stand with us rather than throwing us under the bus to save their own reputation as many others would."Last edited by shikamaru317 - on 03 January 2021