Bear with Me: It’s time for an open world anthropomorphic action game

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With hits like BEASTARS and BNA, it’s time for an open world anthropomorphic game.

In the last year or so there has been an interesting trend happening. Animes like BEASTARS and BNA have become popular hits; two animes that primarily feature worlds of anthropomorphic characters. Before you have to Google it, if you have to Google it, anthropomorphic is, essentially, the correct way to describe an animal that is given a more human form. Think Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Zootopia.

BEASTARS swept the internet by storm recently when it hit Netflix. This visually stunning anime takes your average high school drama and gives it a huge twist by making them all animals thus adding creative and dark overtones to the story.

There’s an organized crime family made of carnivorous tigers, a murderous student who has brutally eaten one of his classmates and other interesting issues that can arise from having animal-themed students. The main story itself is about a wolf who falls in love with a dwarf rabbit and must fight his urge to devour her every time they’re close.

It’s strange and bizarre but oddly enough, through the use of animals fighting their primal instinct, it masterfully captures the panic-inducing feeling of all the confusing emotions of being back in high school.

BNA or Brand New Animal offers another interesting spin on the idea. In a world very close to our own there is a second species of people known as “beastmen. They have lived mixed in with humanity for hundreds of years, causing stories like Anubis and Ganesh and other animal-man hybrids. Over time humanity came to realize that these beastmen live among them, a fact beastmen could keep secret with their ability to take a standard human form. As a result, race riots ensued.

Eventually, a city was created where beastmen could live in relative peace. This being humanity, we’re talking about peace lasting for about 10 minutes. Human first people start hunting beastmen if they leave the city, crime runs rampant and even things like a baseball league can not exist without becoming a hotbed of crime.

The story’s main characters are a tanuki girl and a wolfman. One of the cool things about this show is they manage to give the characters a lot of abilities associated with their form. The tanuki is remarkably agile while the wolf has an incredible sense of smell and an intimidating ferocity which helps him as a detective trying to cut down on the city’s crime wave.

Both of these shows bring to the table the idea that while these characters all appear fairly human, their animal side brings several interesting twists into the mix. It isn’t strange to see characters from these shows flying in the air, scampering up walls, running on all fours, tracking scents and even occasionally existing underwater.

I’ve also recently talked about the Netflix masterpiece “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeast” where I talk about the show and its anthropomorphic universe. Frog mobsters can jump high and fling their tongue and baboon criminals can use their pheromones to control people.

So why isn’t there a game like this? Sure, there was last year’s release of Blacksad: Under the Skin which was a crime noir game based off the French comic of the same name. It puts you in control of a black cat detective in a world of animal people.

While the game features cool uses of animal abilities, it was awash in game-breaking bugs that steered people away from this purchase. But I also want more from this kind of world.

Imagine an open-world game like Spider-Man meets L.A.Noire. You run a detective agency that hosts several detectives of different animal types. As you investigate you can return to the agency and swap characters using their special abilities to gather information.

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Did something happen in a field? Maybe the cocky hawk based detective can fly up to the top of a high up perch and use their impeccable vision to search for clues. Maybe the grizzled old bloodhound can use his sense of smell to place people at the scene. Maybe the ferocious panther can enter areas where there’s the fear of a fight breaking out. The sky is the limit with this idea.

Add in some solid combat where each character lets you feel like that animal’s limitations are in use. For example, while the aforementioned hawk would be incredibly fast and could take the sky, its bones are incredibly light and therefore it can only take one or two hits. And enemies could have sudden appearances of rhino-like bodyguards, owl snipers in the night, rodents smuggling goods through the sewers. These ideas are off the cuff but there’s so much potential here.

This is an idea that is incredibly popular right now and is absolutely overflowing with potential. Heck, BNA‘s main character has an interesting issue in which she can change up parts of her makeup to suddenly have cheetah legs to run fast or strike with incredibly strong gorilla arms. If you don’t want to have a slew of playable characters, make a character like that with unlockable abilities and skill trees.

What do you think? Could you see this happening? Would you want this? What ideas would you add to the game? Comment below, I’d love to have this conversation.