I think an important part of creating an identity for a game is ensuring that it makes the player feel a certain way whilst playing it. This can be achieved through the visual and audio tone of the game, and in the continuity of this tone throughout (unless you want the mood to change, of course!)
Coma is a 2D flash-based platformer played in browser-you can play it here at Newgrounds. The game begins in a dark house with lengthy shadows, and the character progresses outside to a dim, desaturated world where everything seems misty and suspicious. During this game, the player is constantly reminded that something is amiss, through subtle quirks in the level design, even in seemingly regular landscapes.
The music is quiet and generally calming, but it’s very noticeable when the music stops and is replaced by an ambient silence. As can be expected, after completing a series of weird but altogether normal tasks the story twists around and takes the player into a secret underground layer where the player’s suspicions are confirmed. The game is uncomfortable to play at times, but is juxtaposed with some really beautiful imagery. The tone here is brilliantly placed.
Another browser-based flash game, Nevermore 3 creates a similarly mysterious and eerier atmosphere. Throughout the series, the player is brought into an abandoned world that you would expect from a post-apocalyptic title. The scenery suggests that there once was life, but that it has somehow been removed. I haven’t played much of the previous 2 titles, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an explanation for all this. The gameplay mechanics are obvious, but the player is constantly left asking “why?”
In this third instalment, you find yourself in a much more rural area, confronted with these sorts of run-down buildings and ant-eater like creatures- again with no real explanation as to why. The mysterious tone of the game allows the player to accept that this is just the way things are, rather than getting caught up in trying to work out why, which in the end is completely irrelevant.
In Hanami, I hope to be able to create a similarly convincing atmosphere or mystery and suspicion, which leaves the player looking for answer but not questioning its reality. The tone will be similarly dreary and lonely, and will hopefully include a very mellow, ambient soundtrack.