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Sense - 不祥的预感 [A Cyberpunk Ghost Story] with not be censored says publisher Top Hat Studios! [Update]

Way back in September of 2019 I gave my first impressions take on Sense - 不祥的预感 [A Cyberpunk Ghost Story], which you can read here, and I followed that up a month later in an article that shared the news that Sense - 不祥的预感 [A Cyberpunk Ghost Story] would be coming to Nintendo Switch. Well, 2020 happened and lots of things were delayed or scrapped entirely. I had actually forgot about the game myself until it was announced that it would be coming to Switch on January 7, 2021. 

As soon as this release date was revealed people started attacking the art in the game for being "unrealistic." Funny when you consider Naomi "Sexy Cyborg" Wu is in the game as a character and she actually has proportions very much like the ones found on Sense's protagonist. It is quite odd that this game got no noticeable pushback from puritanical Twitter mobs when it landed on Steam, but those people rarely play games and most likely only heard about Sense due to it being the first noteworthy Switch release of 2021.

Top Hat Studios, the publishers of Sense - 不祥的预感 [A Cyberpunk Ghost Story] came out an released a statement regarding the calls to have the game censored, which you can see above. If you are unable to view the picture featuring TopHat Studios response to the calls for censorship, I've transcribed it below.

“With the recent news of Sense – 不祥的预感: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story coming to Nintendo Switch, we are aware of a large amount of messages and demands aimed toward the games’ console platform release based on lies (claims that it is explicitly “pornographic” or somehow “encourages violence” or, most ridiculously, somehow “breaks the law”). Furthermore, voices have attempted to advocate making sale of the game untenable through demanding harsh censorship aimed towards the developer’s artstyle, with threats to “review-bomb” the game and/or harass its distributors. In addition, we have received death threats from those who feel threatened by what essentially boils down to an aesthetic decision of how pixels are arranged on a screen. While disappointed at these behaviors, we are certainly not surprised.

Let us be clear on this – we will not censor the game because of self-centered crowds who care solely about grandstanding. We categorically and absolutely refuse to restrict creative expression. Creators should be allowed freedom to express themselves, particularly when it is an expression of the subcultures they have been immersed in. As a cyberpunk game, Sense uses imagery and themes relating to a future of hyper-commercialised, over-commodified imagery as part of its cyberpunk theme and inspiration; this is reflected in ALL character designs. With that said, we expert that this is lost on those attacking the developer for being “harmful” and somehow inflicting “violence and pain”. Those who believe words or images inflict “violence” should perhaps stop spurting their own hateful, false rhetoric and also cease condoning death threats to those they disagree with.

We reject any and all of the aforementioned, brazen characterizations of the game, and would like to reiterate our principles against tampering with creator’s expressions. We would also like to reiterate this game is rated ESRB M (17+) / PEGI 18. This is not an AO game, not have any “laws been broken”, as some social media commenters have ridiculously claimed out of their biases. The game’s rating reflects the target audience, and yet this fact is lost on those who have been lead by a will to blindly crusade against their false perceptions.

Once again, Sense – 不祥的预感: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story is rated ESRB M (17+) / PEGI 18. The game will release as planned, and without censorship, on the 7th of January, 2021 for Nintendo Switch. It can be preordered and pre-loaded now on the Nintendo E-Shop. The game has passed QA on other platforms, and release dates are being decided.

The game will not be censored. We categorically refuse.”

Of course this statement would do little to quell the outrage as now there are accusations of Top Hat Studios fabricating the calls for censorship in order to drum up attention for the game. This of course is simply people trying to further slander the game, its developers, and its publisher in order to damage sales. While there may not have been articles written in major publications calling for this game to be censored, there was a vocal minority doing so in comment sections, Twitter replies, and forum threads. This is to say nothing of any email or private messages sent directly to the developers or publisher. 

So, if anything, it seems this was a preemptive statement on Top Hat Studios part to protect the game and to let gamers know they value artistic freedom and want you to enjoy the game as it was designed. I am very pleased to see Top Hat Studio standing behind the game they agreed to publish and I hope this is just the first such instance of that kind of behavior from game publishers, developers, and gaming platforms in 2021.

[update] After posting this article Top Hat Studios posted redacted recipts of people harassing them. Tweet