16 Dec Blacksad: Under the Skin – Confessions about the investigation…
Born in 2000 under the pen and pencil of Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, the adventures of private detective Blacksad are spreading to the video game, with Blacksad: Under the Skin. This new investigation of the perspicacious cat has been entrusted to the good care of studios Pendulo and Ys Interactive.
Felipe Gómez Pinilla, CEO of Pendulo Studios, tells us more about the design of this first adaptation of the « bande-dessinée » into video game.
The least we can say is that at Pendulo Studios, the desire to make a game in the universe of Blacksad is not new : “There are a lot of fans of the comic-book in our team. In fact, we dreamed of making a Blacksad game as early as 2011. We made humorous games for more than 15 years, but with the Yesterday saga, we’ve moved to the thriller genre and introduced a more mature atmosphere and content. In addition, Yesterday and Yesterday Origins both have a very pronounced cartoon look. Blacksad matched perfectly with the new direction in which we had been incurred. We had already studied American and French film noir for Yesterday, but with Blacksad: Under the Skin, we focused on American’s novels and movies of the 50’s and especially the recurring character of the novelist Raymond Chandler, Phillip Marlowe, who most people remember as the actor Humphrey Bogart. His look and attitude were for us an obvious starting point for John Blacksad, even if the character undergoes some evolution, whether in comics or in the game.”
Scrupulous to respect the original work, the Spanish studio immersed itself daily in the world of the comics : “All our department heads had the five volumes of Blacksad on their desk during the entire development process, to the point that some of us know some dialogues by heart or can even tell you on which page a certain image appears. The possibility of speaking to the original authors was also important because many questions have arisen during the creative process.”.
Indeed, Pendulo put to contribution the two Spanish authors of Blacksad. A collaboration as valuable as it is rewarding for developers, as Felipe explains it : “Working with Díaz Canales and Guarnido has been as easy as enriching. Microids had already submitted a preliminary synopsis, which they liked, and then left us work by ourselves. From time to time, we sent them new concepts, 3D models or dialogues, and their feedback was always accurate and enlightening. And although they asked us to change only small things, they helped us to capture the essence of the comics, because no one knows better than them the universe of Blacksad.”
Rigorously faithful to the world of Blacksad, the Pendulo Studios team has not curbed his creativity, proposing new characters through his own story: “We generally create a new character using its narrative and / or playable function as a starting point. Then we create a plausible personality, trying to preserve a balance with the rest of the characters, in a way you don’t get two similar characters. Moreover, in Blacksad, the animal species of each character is important and the universe has some rules that you must follow. For example, all police officers are dogs. So, besides the police chief Smirnov, a German shepherd, we have introduced more police, in this case a schnauzer and a bulldog. Many times, we flipped through the comics to find inspiration. Juanjo Guarnido draws many characters that can only appear on one page, but who however, are incredibly well designed. Faced with this inspiration, our designers have added thirty new 3D characters and fifty other 2D characters to the game (these ones are to collect), not appearing in the comic strips. The last step took place in the recording studio, where we made sure to choose the best vocal lining for each character. We have striven to provide everything the necessary context for actors and actresses so that they can give them life. “
Because if the developers of Pendulo Studios have strived to restore with the greatest mindfulness the atmosphere hard-boiled 50’s of Blacksad for this first adaptation, they have not forgotten that a comic does not exactly match the same codes as a video game: “It was important to understand the various tools used by different media. The comics are based on linearity and printed pages, video game offers interactivity and exploration . The question then was how to do the world of Blacksad a real playground. We sincerely hope that we will succeed and that the fans, the players, will have a great experience with Blacksad: Under the Skin!”
Blacksad: Under the Skin is now available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.