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Sylenth and Ai-Lo Interview

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You wake up in an insane asylum. Trapped in your own nightmares, you begin losing hope as your own mind drives you insane. Your friends are on the way to spring you out, but your psychosis has other plans. That’s the basic setup for a promising visual novel being developed in on the other side of the world. After finding out about Resonance via my stalking of Cyanide Tea (sorry ladies), I was pleased to be able to talk to them about their project.

VNs Now: According to your website, this all started on a boring day in 2008. Were you guys really just trying to kill time? Because if so, I think that Summer ended a few years back.

Sylenth: Haha, that’s right! We had nothing to on the holidays back then, so I just suggested to start a simple little text RPG. We had the first sketches for some characters back then (for example, Yoru and Light), so just started playing with them. It’s not like we had a big plot in mind – just a very rough conception of the world and a wish to have fun. And since that day we just can’t stop! The game world has grown greatly in this time, and the plot became really deep and serious, as well as long.

Anyway, it’d be a shame to waste such a story, so I thought about that a little and suggested to make a visual novel. I was really overjoyed when Ai-lo seconded that! That’s how it all began.

Ai-lo: Yes, at the beginning this story was only for fun, but then it became a big part of our lives, it was very interesting for us to create characters, to invent world and developments. And one day we realized that this story is too important for us so we wanted to share it with other people. And format of visual novel is the most convenient for telling our story.

VNs Now: How did your collaboration evolved since then? We know that Ai-Lo is still the resident pessimist, but is there anything you two still fight over or have you melded minds yet?

Sylenth: I think that we make the best team ever! *laughs* You see, I always liked drawing characters more than backgrounds, and even a thought about painting the pack of game BGs horrified me to no end. But for Ai-lo it’s completely opposite, so there was no questions about who’s going to be the BG artist. Of course, not everything goes smoothly in our work – for example, when I design the BG and Ai-lo needs to model and paint it. Ouch, I guess, it’s the hardest part in our work, since I know I’m really strict and can be harsh sometimes. I can cavel at the smallest details, because I want everything in the game to be perfect. I’m especially strict with myself and it always slows me down since I like to redraw everything from the scratch if I’m not pleased with my work… But I guess it can’t be helped. I’m glad that Ai-lo is so talented and patient though, even if she always underestimates herself.

Ai-lo: At the beginning of this story we only looked closely at each other, we didn’t know each other well, didn’t know what other one likes and dislikes… But we tried to learn, for example we had a secret competition between us who creates the most interesting quest for Yoru and Light. *laugh* Back then they were almost only main characters. But then story started getting more and more bigger, we became friends, and Sylenth aroused me to buy a Wacom tablet and begin drawing in Photoshop. So I can say that she is my teacher of digital art.  And she still gives me some advices and I’m very grateful for it. Of course we still argue sometimes when we have opposite opinions or when Sylenth asks me to redraw backgrounds multiply times. *laugh* But in whole we understand each otherpretty good, so often we think equally and know what will other one say before she does so.

VNs Now: Taking how the project started in 2008 to where you guys are now, has anything changed?

Sylenth: I guess pretty much everything changed. The characters, the worlds, the plot itself, etc. We thought and worked a lot on all that to improve it, and went through a lot of serious changes – especially about the game world. As for our heroes, they haven’t changed that much in whole. But in the game itself their characters and relationships may change – it all depends on the player.

Ai-lo: Not only the game world and characters have changed, we ourselves also have changed, and, I think, in a good way.


VNs Now: Many of the scenes we’ve seen are visceral, which I guess can be expected since it is in the psychological horror genre.  What has been some of your inspiration for the direction of the art in Resonance?

Sylenth: Actually the game only has horror elements, it’s more is a mystery thriller in whole. As for inspiration… Well, for me it’s mostly horror and fantastic games and books. I love the Silent Hill (1-4) and Forbidden Siren series (even though I don’t have PS3 and “played” Siren only on the YouTube… Damn). I guess they show what the real fear is, that there’s nothing creeper than human’s minds and actions. The Japanese psychological conception of fear is much more interesting and scary, than the zombies jumping from the corner. But’ as I said, only several episodes of the “Resonance” will be horror.

And if to choose from the renai world, I’d name Saya no Uta and Innocent Grey works (especially Kara no Shoujo). Too bad there’s not much games like this…

Ai-lo: Honestly I can’t name my sources of inspiration. It’s more like a general impression from many books and films I have read and seen in my life. But the latest inspiring thing for me is the visual novel Kara no Shoujo. I like it’s atmosphere and original plot.

VNs Now: The story of Resonance follows a young man who is trying to help a friend who has gone insane. I’m guessing that there will be forces who don’t like that idea. What more can you tell us about the plot and what we can expect from this game, other than getting the crapped scared out of us?

Sylenth: Well, our goal is sure not to scare the readers to death, so don’t expect that much! But maybe it’s just me, I’ve played too much horrors… Anyway, I’ll let Ai-lo talk about the plot, and tell you a little about the game process.

As you already know, the first part of game is settled in the asylum, and our protagonist is Mark. After that the game will switch to Yoru’s POV and, depending on the choices he makes, you may or may not play as Light in some scenes. Then we’ll get back to Mark. Maybe there’ll be more playable characters, though… You’ll see.

Well, since all of them are different characters, it will affect the choices you can make. For example, there will be something like “investigation scenes”, where you can click on different stuff on the screen to learn more about it. Depending on the character you’re playing, the results of looking at the same scene will be different. For example, Light is a thief, so he has a sharp eye and notices a lot of little things to which others won’t pay attention. But don’t try to click on water, playing as him… Yoru is calm, collected and clever too so he’s the best when it comes to all sorts of mysteries and puzzles. But he hates everything related to magic, so making him inspect something that involves it isn’t the best idea.

Mark is very lively and talkative, he has something to say about nearly everything on the screen, he also is a good chemist and a starting doctor, so keep that in mind. And every character has such personal tips.

Ai-lo: Our game has a very tangled plot with many unexpected twists. Also you will see how the characters of our heroes are changing during the game because of a lot of things happening with and around them, and other heroes’ influence. Sometimes you also can literally look at the characters from the inside. For example, some scenes in asylum will help you see and understand the collapsed inner world of Yoru. There’s also some unpredictable and complicated characters with their own ideas and dreams, because they are way more interesting than definitely good or definitely bad persons. And the opportunity to play with different characters will help you not only  to understand this character better, but also will give you a good chance to learn the game world from different points of view. Because our story isn’t only about some several heroes but it’s more like a story of the whole world. And you can cardinal change this history with your own decisions during the game.

VNs Now: When you go onto your blog for Resonance, not only do you see a section for news updates but also a curious spot marked ‘Comics’ and ‘Fiction’. Does this mean that you guys are planning more than just a visual novel for this story?

Sylenth: Yes, there will be some spin-offs and other interesting stuff. But not anytime soon, I guess, now we’re still too busy with the game. Only if Ai-lo writes some story, but she really doesn’t like translating, and it’s hard for me as well… I mean, I’ll still have to translate the whole game and all blog entries, I just don’t have enough time for everything, and my English is far from perfect. It’s much easier with the comics, though. If we do some, translating them won’t take that long.

Ai-lo: Yes, we will do it in the future. But, as Sylenth said, there is a problem with the fiction: for me it’s not difficult to write one, but I really don’t like translating and my English doesn’t make it possible to express all my ideas as I can do so in Russian. So there we have some problems, but with comics it will be easier and we already have some ideas. I think that after release of demo or “Resonance 0” we will begin to draw one.


VNs Now: Resonance will be released in both English and Russian. We all know the reputation that is building for visual novels here, but what is the VN scene like on your side of the world?

Sylenth: It’s… Awful, I guess. There’s not much VNs in Russian… Actually, I only can think of only two pretty good amateur (well, one’s commercial and other one is not) games, and they’re not even released yet! As for commercial released VNs, for example, works of Dreamlore… I don’t like them at all. I guess, they’re OK, if you don’t take them too seriously, but still… Oh well. I didn’t want to harm someone’s feeling, so please forgive me if I did so.

I guess it’s still a new thing to our people, most part of them doesn’t even know what is visual novel, and others think all novels are hentai. But there’s some enthusiasts, creating their own novels or at least trying to do so or thinking about it, and it’s great! It means we still have a hope~

Ai-lo: Yes, there are not many of VNs in Russian. I myself am interested in two of them and, for example, backgrounds from “Everlasting Summer” done by Arsenixc are a source of inspiration for me. They are really wonderful. As for VNs like “Resonance”… Honestly, I find it difficult to reply.

VNs Now: How close are you to announcing a release date for the demo?

Sylenth: Well… Actually, we’re not very good with planning our time; we can’t get everything done in the time we want. So we decided we won’t set the date yet, so the readers won’t be disappointed if we won’t make it. But the demo will be available in spring, I think. We wanted to complete it by the end of the February, but when Ai-lo has written her (the bigger) part of the script, I’ve read it, then we’ve discussed everything and decided to change some scenes in it and add something new here and there.

And when the demo is completed, I’ll have to translate it, it’ll also take some time…

Ai-lo: I hope it will be more clear within the next few weeks. I really hope. But, we are humans and besides “Resonance” we have our real lives and also problems which often appear unexpected. But we try our best and lion’s share of our free time is spending for work on “Resonance”.

VNs Now: Thank you very much for talking with us! We’re looking forward to seeing more of Resonance.

Sylenth:  Thank you for the interesting talk! I’m really flattered by your interest and hope we’ll  live up to your expectations.

Ai-lo: Thank you for this interview! I’m very happy that you are interested in our “Resonance” and it means a lot for us.

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