What a lovely sounding game!
Talented composer Laura Shigihara is best known for her Plants vs. Zomies soundtrack, but she has also had her hands in other great soundtracks, including World of Warcraft, Penny Arcade's On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness (I also worked on that game!), and one of my favorites, the heartstring puller indie game To the Moon.
After about a year of development, Shigihara is now revealing her latest, called Project Rakuen. Shigihara is working alongside friend and artist (and fellow former EA employee) Emmy Toyonaga to create a game that she describes as a mix between Maniac Mansion, The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, and To the Moon. It's a battle-free exploration game with what sounds like a lovely premise.
Rakuen is about a boy that lives in a hospital. He becomes bored and relies on his mother's storybook readings. He eventually learns more about the patients that live with him in this hospital, learning about empathy, hope, and what it means to leave a legacy behind. Influences include Japanese mythology and children's culture, as well as films like Spirited Away.
Rakuen already sounds amazing, but I'm draw in even more after learning how the project started. Shigihara tells Destructoid that the game was inspired by a song she wrote for Akira Yamaoka's Play for Japan charity album, called "Jump." As a fellow composer, I think it's wonderful that a game can spring from a song.
This sounds like a winning formula if you ask me. Shigihara is shooting for a PC release in early 2014, with possible ports coming after. In our gallery you'll find a new poster image for Rakuen, and a new webpage for the project has even more information. Finally, a treat: some soundtrack samples on Bandcamp!