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Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story developer "categorically refuses" to censor the game following backlash and death threats

Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story is a 2.5D horror game inspired by the likes of Clock Tower. It aims to tell a dark and gritty story, and it also has its fair share of "adult" content. That includes character designs, attributes, and story beats that some would consider hyper-sexualized. This has caused a bit of controversy for the game, even moreso now that a Jan. 7th, 2021 launch date is locked in for Switch.

The extra attention the game has gotten made for troublesome times for developer Top Hat Studios. The company has been inundated with complaints and attacks on social media, with some going so far as to send death threats. In response to the backlash, Top Hat Studios has put out a statement saying they have no plans to censor the game. You can find their full statement on the matter below.

“With the recent news of Sense – 不祥的预感: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story coming to Nintendo Switch, we are aware of a large amount of messages and demands aimed toward the games’ console platform release based on lies (claims that it is explicitly “pornographic” or somehow “encourages violence” or, most ridiculously, somehow “breaks the law”). Furthermore, voices have attempted to advocate making sale of the game untenable through demanding harsh censorship aimed towards the developer’s artstyle, with threats to “review-bomb” the game and/or harass its distributors. In addition, we have received death threats from those who feel threatened by what essentially boils down to an aesthetic decision of how pixels are arranged on a screen. While disappointed at these behaviors, we are certainly not surprised.

Let us be clear on this – we will not censor the game because of self-centered crowds who care solely about grandstanding. We categorically and absolutely refuse to restrict creative expression. Creators should be allowed freedom to express themselves, particularly when it is an expression of the subcultures they have been immersed in. As a cyberpunk game, Sense uses imagery and themes relating to a future of hyper-commercialised, over-commodified imagery as part of its cyberpunk theme and inspiration; this is reflected in ALL character designs. With that said, we expert that this is lost on those attacking the developer for being “harmful” and somehow inflicting “violence and pain”. Those who believe words or images inflict “violence” should perhaps stop spurting their own hateful, false rhetoric and also cease condoning death threats to those they disagree with.

We reject any and all of the aforementioned, brazen characterizations of the game, and would like to reiterate our principles against tampering with creator’s expressions. We would also like to reiterate this game is rated ESRB M (17+) / PEGI 18. This is not an AO game, not have any “laws been broken”, as some social media commenters have ridiculously claimed out of their biases. The game’s rating reflects the target audience, and yet this fact is lost on those who have been lead by a will to blindly crusade against their false perceptions.

Once again, Sense – 不祥的预感: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story is rated ESRB M (17+) / PEGI 18. The game will release as planned, and without censorship, on the 7th of January, 2021 for Nintendo Switch. It can be preordered and pre-loaded now on the Nintendo E-Shop. The game has passed QA on other platforms, and release dates are being decided.

The game will not be censored. We categorically refuse.”

Comments

Top Rated Comment
fylo
Fri Jan 01 21 03:53pm
Rating: 9

PC guilt and "concern" also the recurrent commenter that "I don't want my wife knowing games can be like that."

Resetera also has a thread dedicated to shaming this type of content regardless of context.

In a way it's just another way to continue to dictate how women should look and behave. Like it's always been.

I must be missing something. Since when are The Gamers(tm) outraged by big boobs?

Regardless, I'm interested because of the comparison to Clock Tower. I love Clock Tower.

fylo
Fri Jan 01 21 03:53pm
Rating: 9

PC guilt and "concern" also the recurrent commenter that "I don't want my wife knowing games can be like that."

Resetera also has a thread dedicated to shaming this type of content regardless of context.

In a way it's just another way to continue to dictate how women should look and behave. Like it's always been.

I mean, the character designs are patently ridiculous.

Yeah but that way of expressing is very different from "disgusting," "offensive," "Jesus Christ," "it doesn't make sense anymore," "it's just so evocative of the problem it ilustrates," etc.

And others are painfully ironic "most artists can't afford to treat it otherwise all the time. It's a sad truth of most art that only a few lucky folk are strictly drawing the exact things they want.."

TBF not all reads concern sounding like preaching.

ridleysaria
Fri Jan 01 21 04:12pm
Rating: 6

I don't know if this is my kind of game but I think I'll buy it for this statement alone.

So boobs are bad and death threats are good? Is that the mentality we're working with here?

I wasn't really paying attention to this game but I think I may give it a purchase. I just took a quick look at some screenshots and videos and it doesn't look bad.

yomaru
Fri Jan 01 21 04:58pm
Rating: 7

This is an absolute joke. I've looked and can see no one actually genuinely complaining about this game, let alone crying for it to be censored. This is an absolute cry/bait for attention for a game that no one knew about and people are falling for it. lol

thedreaminghawk
Fri Jan 01 21 05:49pm
Rating: 5 (Updated 1 time)

I only saw a few tweets that could be as such, in response to the announcement of the switch port, and they were mostly from folks dunking on the stupid looking character designs and how weirdly sexualized they were. (not in a bad or good way, but rather a "fellas I AM SO HORNY" way where it didn't seem to account to anything except being there for the heck of it.) Not a single one called for the game to be altered and most of it was just pointing out how silly things looked was rather than being offensive. I've seen way more people have issues with Galgun due to the underage character bullshit they pushed with that one, than this game which I never heard of before today.

I agree that this is pretty much a blatant attempt at pandering to a certain toxic crowd as a last-ditch effort due to low exposure from Steam/other methods, when that is a pretty fucking bad idea considering how they've harassed plenty of my games media peers and devs in bad faith. And the source link being to Niche Gamer, a toxic website who's owner has gone to harass people himself? Big ew moment there, far worse than anything this game could do to upset anyone by itself

Well this explains a lot.

The Devs ended up going on twitter to share some of the bad messages, and it seems a lot of them were DM'ed or emailed, which is why they weren't really open: they tried grouping together some of the "these designs look stupid" comments with that stuff though, which I'm not a fan of, but they did share a lot of credible emails and messages they received, some of which were VERY TERF-like and anti-trans to boot, and someone tried to dox them.

So it unfortunately does seem like they were the victims of TERFs and other toxic people. But I still think this public announcement is catering to the wrong crowd and they should be careful with that too... This just all sucks.

Yeah, that's the problem with the whole "censorship" thing, it caters to a very right-wing audience regardless of intent. That said, I do feel for them if they had to deal with TERFs, who are just the woooooooorst.

Unfortunately, in the meantime I read some reviews of the game, and it doesn't look very good. :S Which is a shame, since I do think the concept at least is solid.

Why would he? So he can face death threats and backlash for changing the game? My suggestion if you are offended, don't buy it.

I was going to say "nothing came up" in my search for anti-misogyny, but I finally found where they may have gotten these comments.

On Nintendo's Life Twitter post: https://twitter.com/nintendolife/status/1344289679911374850

That's all I could find, though. Nothing pops-up anywhere else, otherwise.

Hmmmm sounds like I should buy it.

golfdude
Fri Jan 01 21 06:30pm
Rating: 1

the sooner companies get off of twitter , the better.. twitter is not where their audience is.. its where all their haters and detractors are, and twitter allows those influencers to make threats without punishment b/c they make ad money off all those impressions.. and it makes those idiots feel like they have a right to harrass companies over the stupidest things.. so they keep doing it...

support companies that tell these twitter hate mobs to screw off by buying their products to show them, twitter is not the place to go for actual feedback... as those ppl were never buying your product to begin with..

We've seen Twitter is a political social media tool.
I suppose investors use it.

I just want to see some evidence of the alleged threats and supposed calls for censorship. I have not been able to find anything.

I agree that developers should be able to publish whatever they want (as long as it's not illegal content). But if a developer claims to have received "death threats", they should be able to back that claim up.

Until I see something to prove me wrong, I will continue assuming this is a tasteless publicity stunt.

bakfug
Sat Jan 02 21 09:55am
Rating: 1

Tasteless like their character design. Thank you I'm here all week.

conangiga
Sat Jan 02 21 06:17am
(Updated 1 time)

Give that man/woman an award.

bakfug
Sat Jan 02 21 10:09am
Rating: 2 (Updated 1 time)

...who care solely about grandstanding.

Oh man, the irony. The amount of you here believing this are as embarrassing as their statement.

The complainers are also embarassing. If anything each to their own. It's not like this is a product many will like to stream or let's play it to their audience. Hehehe.

bakfug
Sat Jan 02 21 01:13pm
Rating: 2

You seem to be missing the point that many have brought up that basically no one is complaining and its 100% a show to push sales before the Switch launch as, from what everyone can tell, it is bombing on Steam.

I see people complaining. But I also agreed this could be bait.

I'm just expressing my discomfort on how Twitter does attack creators of this type of content in order to gain attention.

bakfug
Sat Jan 02 21 10:09pm
Rating: 1

Feel free to point us to complaints saying its "explicitly pornographic", "encourages violence", or "breaks the law" if you've seen them my friend, because the rest of us that actually looked are coming up short, and the "complaining" is rather light and perfectly valid criticism on bad character design in very, very few places. Please point us to these complainers you so strongly deemed as embarrassing earlier.

bakfug
Sun Jan 03 21 05:03pm
(Updated 1 time)

Hahahaha. All this does is reinforce what I think. These are clearly days old, seemingly from a dozen at most people, none of them being anywhere near the claims they made in their original statement. Its amazing how this suddenly comes up now as we fast approach their second release of their failing game and not earlier.

Hands up if you’ve commented because you fell for the marketing ploy...

hands up if you’re planning on buying to have a look at what the fuss is all about

for those who were asking about the death threats, the dev posted "the receipts" if you will... theres already a youtube video going over them...

I don’t know what actually went down with this game, but extreme side-eye at putting “violence” in scare quotes here.

With that said, we expert that this is lost on those attacking the developer for being “harmful” and somehow inflicting “violence and pain”. Those who believe words or images inflict “violence” should perhaps stop spurting their own hateful, false rhetoric

OBVIOUSLY some words or images could be considered violent, even illegal. The creator not taking that possibility seriously is a major red flag. If this were a game about sexualizing children, for instance, the blowback to it and defense of it would read exactly the same.

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