Back in 2017, Rakuen was a pixel art, combat-free RPG which mixed serious themes with cute, fantasy characters and songs. We adored it. Now its developer Laura Shigihara has announced a new game, Mr. Saitou, which she describes as "the next installment in the Rakuen universe." You can find the announcement trailer below.
"Mr. Saitou is a short game about an average white-collar worker who struggles to find meaning in a life full of constant overtime and social isolation," according to the Steam page. "After an accident lands him in the hospital, Mr. Saitou is spirited away to a strange fantasy world where an unexpected friend takes him on a life-changing adventure."
Rakuen could take around ten hours to play through if you did everything, but Mr. Saitou will "usually be completed in one sitting."
Aside from Rakuen and Mr. Saitou, Shigihara is also a game composer, best known for work on To The Moon, Deltarune and for singing Zombies On Your Lawn in Plants vs. Zombies.
"There is so much to celebrate here, and I want to start with what stood out the most: this is the only game I can think of that so prominently features a mum," said our Rakuen review. "Boy (as the game only ever refers to him) is accompanied for most of the game by his mother, the two of them exploring both the hospital and the world of Rakuen together. This has two enormous effects - firstly it puts a dynamic relationship at the centre of the story, the two able to chat at any point, Mom able to offer hints, and most importantly, chat to and argue with the game’s characters alongside you. Secondly, it dramatically changes how your approach understanding and interpreting the game’s use of fantasy."
No word yet on whether Mr. Saitou's mum is in the new game, but it's aiming to release on March 23rd, 2023. You can find more screenshots over on Steam.