Top Hat Studios, the New York-based developer behind the recently released and well-reviewed Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story, has shared a statement noting that it has no intention of censoring the 2.5D horror game despite receiving death threats over its art and visual style. The controversy seems to stem from the fact that many of the female characters feature huge breasts, which has prompted a bevy of heated exchanges over social media and the developer’s own inboxes.
“[…] 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’),” Top Hat Studios wrote. “Furthermore, voices have attempted to advocate making sale of the game untenable through demanding harsh censorship aimed towards the developer’s artystyle, 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.”
Top Hat Studios goes on to confirm that Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story will not be censored or changed in any way to appease its critics. Arguing that creators should have the freedom to release their work as they see fit, the developer explained that the imagery and themes that were chosen are perfectly justifiable based on the cyberpunk genre.
“Let us be clear on this – we will not censor the game because of self-centred crowds who care solely about grandstanding,” the studio stated. “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 expect 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.”
Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story will be released on the Nintendo Switch on January 7, 2021 as planned without any censorship. According to a warning posted on the store page for the Steam version, the game doesn’t contain any adult or explicit content (e.g., nudity) but does feature characters with skimpy/semi-revealing outfits and mature themes. Players can also expect references to alcohol, drugs, and potentially distressing topics such as murder, suicide, and abuse.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING CALLS DEMANDING CENSORSHIP OF SENSE – 不祥的预感: A CYBERPUNK GHOST STORY— Top Hat Studios, Inc (@TopHatStudiosEN) January 1, 2021
Our commitment to our audience and to developers is we will never infringe on creative freedom or expression. pic.twitter.com/VV5IcGbJ7P
We originally did not want to make this post, as to not accidentally incite a search for these posters and cause further fights. However, as there are now industry-adjacent people slandering/gaslighting us as liars, we've compiled a sampling from twitter, FB, and email. (1/5) pic.twitter.com/TJlNS4tWTd— Top Hat Studios, Inc (@TopHatStudiosEN) January 2, 2021