Hidetaka “SWERY65” Suehiro has carved out for himself a very niche audience with his eccentric and off-beat video games that are either highly acclaimed or intensely vilified by players, with little in-between.
His first game directing credit was for Spy Fiction, released for Playstation 2 in North America and Europe in 2004. But how SWERY65 truly gained notoriety was for the 2010 cult classic Deadly Premonition, developed by Access Games.
SWERY65 and Access Games
Deadly Premonition was an open-world mystery/survival horror game known for its bizarre characters and attention to minute details. It’s been described as sort of a love letter to the films of director David Lynch, especially Twin Peaks.
Much like the eccentric film director, Deadly Premonition was either loved or hated by the public, and despite this (some may even say because of this) SWERY65 immediately became an infamous figure in the gaming world.
In 2015 SWERY65 and Access Games released D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, an episodic adventure game featuring a time-traveling detective that the player-controlled using the Xbox’s Kinect. Similarly to Deadly Premonition, the game featured bizarre characters and situations and would offer up information that largely doesn’t seem necessary to the task at hand.
Put simply, it was weird.
And it did very well, probably because by this time reviewers knew what to expect from SWERY65 and Access Games. D4 was intended to be an episodic game, similar to those released by TellTale, and at its release in 2015 had a prologue and two episodes which made up the first season.
The SWERY65 Tattoo to End All SWERY65 Tattoos
Unfortunately, the second season was not to be, as SWERY65 announced in 2016 that he would be leaving Access Games. Whether or not this coincided with his massive Yakuza-style back tattoo is up for debate.
Being the mind responsible for Deadly Premonition was not enough for SWERY65, as he enlisted his former classmate and tattoo artist to design and tattoo the image of his stuffed monkey “Sharapova” swinging from some trees on his back.
It should also be noted that on this tattoo Sharapova–whom SWERY65 has referred to as his “partner”–is also wearing a t-shirt with his nickname on it, meaning that SWERY65 basically has a tattoo of his nickname on his back stretching from his neck to his upper arms, all the way down to his upper thigh.
He posted a picture on his Instagram account when the news broke, but the tattoo was featured as part of a photoshoot for a Men of Game Design calendar. Whereas most of the developers from Bioware, Naughty Dog, and others featured their subjects shirtless with pants, SWERY65, in an effort to show off as much of his tattoo as he could, posed for the picture in a fundoshi.
Since his departure from Access Games, SWERY65 started a new company called White Owls Inc. There was relative radio silence from White Owls for a year or so, until SWERY65 began to work with none other than Suda51 on a joint project known only as Hotel Barcelona. It was quickly revealed that Hotel Barcelona was in its very early stages, as the game may not even be set in Barcelona as Suda51 originally mentioned.
At one point the developers stated that it would be published by indie publishing outfit Devolver Digital, but this was quickly debunked by the company, saying it was “news to [them]”.
SWERY65 and White Owls Shows Fans The Good Life
In the meantime, White Owls has been working on The Good Life, a game described as a mystery adventure with photo and repayment mechanics.
Players control Naomi, a New York photojournalist who has found herself in the sleepy British village of Rainy Woods (Coincidentally, “Rainy Woods” was the previous name of Deadly Premonition) where as one might imagine, things are not as they seem.
For one thing, there’s been a murder, which is never something you want to have in your sleepy village, much less when there’s a visitor. For another it seems that the villagers turn into cats and dogs every so often, and now Naomi does too. In addition to the photomechanics, The Good Life also has scents that can only be picked up as a cat or dog, puzzles that can only be solved by being one or the other, and more.
It also seems that in The Good Life it’s important for Naomi to take care of herself by eating right and regularly, maintaining her body temperature, and her cleanliness, as denoted by the “Beauty/Health Care” prompts when she’s near a bathroom mirror.
This mimics the cleanliness mechanics in Deadly Premonition, as occasionally the protagonist will be fined for being a “Stinky Agent”. Fans of SWERY65 are eager to get their hands on The Good Life, especially after it’s been pushed back to this year from its original release date of 2019.
SWERY65 is certainly an eccentric figure in gaming, from his partner Sharapova to his full-back tattoo featuring Sharapova. He’s shown his taste for the strange and surreal in Deadly Premonition and his fans only want more of it. It remains to be seen whether his newest work The Good Life will be received as favorably as D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die, but it’s sure to be an interesting experience nonetheless.