Although our world continues on its hellish course, a new year represents a time to refresh and renew efforts on future projects. Fumito Ueda and his studio genDESIGN felt it was the perfect time to remind everyone they’re still working on a new game.
The official genDESIGN website was recently updated with a new graphic celebrating the calendar’s roll over to 2021, each number representing a formative game in the studio’s resume. But while the nods to classics like Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian are obvious, the final piece of art appears to be completely new.
By zooming in a bit, the image depicts a cloaked figure standing resolutely next to a vegetation-covered structure that appears to be robotic or mechanical in nature. A desolate, waterlogged landscape stretches out behind them. I have no idea what to make of it, but it sure looks Ueda-esque and thus very neat.
genDESIGN shared a similar commemorative image on Twitter around the same time, with a message that the studio is working on releasing “new experiences as soon as possible.” The same artwork can also be found on Ueda’s personal website by way of a background video showing its creation, the only difference being a mysterious robotic appendage of some sort framing characters from past games.
The aesthetics of these teaser images match hints from years past. genDESIGN ushered in 2018 with an image of a mysterious girl sitting on an altar and bathed in light, while it celebrated the beginning of 2020 with a sketch of some indiscernible mechanical construct.
Ueda has been public about working on a new project for years. While accepting the trophy for Outstanding Achievement in Character for The Last Guardian at 2017’s D.I.C.E. Awards, he mentioned being inspired to begin work on a new game.
During a talk at the Nordic Game Conference later that year, Ueda said that genDESIGN was toying with the idea of returning to the more open-world environment seen in Shadow of the Colossus for its next game. A few months after that, Ueda told Eurogamer via translator that he wanted to get another game out the door “as quickly as possible” after spending almost a decade working on The Last Guardian.
That said, things appeared to slow down a bit in 2018. Speaking to Polygon about the funding process, Ueda explained that genDESIGN wasn’t rushing to find a publisher just yet in order to let ideas come to fruition naturally. By March 2020, the studio had found a partner in Epic Games Publishing.
It remains to be seen what will come of these strange images genDESIGN has been sharing over the past few years, but Ueda is one of those game developers to whom, when it comes time for him to announce a new game, everyone gives their undivided attention.