Appreciating the Storied Career of Yoko Taro

Yoko Taro is a video game director who has done a fair amount of scenario writing as well. He has a number of notable characteristics that cause him to stand out. For example, he is less than enthused about being photographed, which is why he is known for wearing a mask whenever he is either being interviewed or presenting something to the public. Likewise, he makes frequent use of backwards script writing, which is a process that sees him starting with the ending before building backwards from that point in the narrative. With that said, Yoko might be best-known for the often dark and disturbing content found in his games, which is connected to his interest in exploring the less pleasant sides of the human experience.

What Games Are Yoko Taro Best-Known For?

For those who are unfamiliar, Yoko’s career as a video game director started out with an action RPG called Drakengard. Initially, one of the co-producers for the project was supposed to take on directorial duties, but since he became occupied with other projects, Yoko was the one who was asked to serve as a substitute. As it turned out, Yoko hated the experience of working on Drakengard because of the sheer number of changes asked by the advisory board, though time has made a lie of his statement that he would never work on another Drakengard game.

On the whole, the first Drakengard wasn’t particularly successful. However, it managed to be very memorable, not least because of Yoko’s story direction. For instance, the gameplay of Drakengard can be summed up as a combination of Ace Combat and Dynasty Warriors, meaning that the player is expected to kill hundreds of enemies over the course of their play experience. Since similar games often had rating systems for how well players were able to tear through their enemies that came off as being “gloating” in nature, Yoko made a deliberate decision to make the protagonist Caim insane because of his opinion that someone who so enjoyed killing would have to be insane. As such, Caim is an interesting contrast to the protagonists of other games who do just as much killing that is in no way acknowledged by the game themselves.

Eventually, Yoko became involved in the making of further Drakengard games. This can be seen in how he was involved in the making of Drakengard 2 as a member of the creative staff, where he winded up clashing with the new director. Furthermore, this can be seen in how he was involved in what was supposed to be Drakengard 3 but winded up becoming so different that it was turned into the spinoff called Nier. It wasn’t until 2013 that Yoko and some of the other people involved in the making of the Drakengard games got back together to make Drakengard 3 in 2013, which was soon followed up by the making of Nier: Automata in 2017. The success of said title is what has propelled Yoko into the forefront, which is rather remarkable considering the much more limited success of its predecessors. Moreover, Square Enix has outright stated that its success means that there is potential for further development of the franchise, meaning that Yoko could very well get the chance to make more Drakengard and Nier games in the future.

Besides Drakengard and its spinoff series, Yoko has been known to get involved in the making of mobile games as well. The latest example is Pokelabo’s SINoALICE, which is centered on characters drawn from fairy tales, each of whom embodies some kind of core nature. For example, its Briar Rose is defined by Slumber, while its Gretel is defined by Delusion. So far, SINoALICE has been limited to East Asian markets, though it is interesting to note that a North American version is expected to come out at some point in the first quarter of 2019.

Further Considerations

Summed up, Yoko is a video game director who has managed to step into the spotlight in a big way because of the success of Nier: Automa, though perhaps ironically, he has been pretty blunt about his opinion that video game developers are not entertainers in a direct sense of the word. It will be interesting to see what games he will continue to work on in the times to come, which will presumably see him continuing to explore darker themes in their stories.

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