I consider myself a fan of the open world video game genre. Give me a playground and I shall play. Then along comes D3 Publisher announcing a new open world game and I immediately became a mixture of intrigued, bemused, and perturbed all at the same time.
From the game publisher that brought you games such as the Earth Defense Force series and the Onechanbara series, comes Natuiro Haisukuru – Seishun Hakusho (夏色ハイスクル★青春白書 "Summer-Coloured High School – Adolescent Record"), an open world game that takes place on a small island.
Players take on the role of a high school junior who transfers to the local school for three months. There, he is reunited with a childhood friend who convinces him to join the school's journalism club. Camera in hand, how he will spend his remaining time on the island is up to the player.
As is my experience, Japanese open world games tend to be more restrictive in their "freeness" than their western counterparts. While I certainly am not expecting Grand Theft Auto levels of freedom and creativity in the game world, images released showing the protagonist riding bikes, at the beach, sneaking panty shots with his camera – because of course he would, this is a D3 game – and getting subsequently detained by the police seem to show a lot of potential.
According to D3 in a report in Weekly Famitsu, there are over 300 individual residents on the island, over half of who offer varying optional quests that you can accept or refuse at your leisure. Depending on which quests you pursue and whether you successfully complete them or not can change the main story of the game.
Natsuiro Haisukuru is scheduled for release on the PS3 and PS4 in Japan sometime in 2015 – considering the title, I suspect it'll be around Summer. No word on an international release.