Inspirations Behind The Many Deaths of Lily Kosen

Inspirations Behind The Many Deaths of Lily Kosen

Scott Pilgrim

As much as The Many Deaths of Lily Kosen is a horror game, it’s also got very strong slice of life elements. While there are works that can pull off a consistent tone of terror and fear, it can be difficult to execute well - you can’t have the characters die too quickly, but you also can’t have any villains look like idiots. It also leads into issues like what the exact content of the work is going to be - characters running away from a villain for hours is going to get old quickly. Hence, the decision to include slice of life elements in the work.  

So, how does Scott Pilgrim influence the slice of life aspect of the game, you ask? The answer is that in spite of everyone only ever talking about its premise (“you have to fight your girlfriend’s evil exes to be with her”) or the quirky video game aspects of the world, its strongest elements have always been, in my opinion, its characters and the way they interact with one another. Take a look at the following sequence (you can click on the images to open them in a new tab):  

The characters talk in a natural tone, they ramble, stutter, interrupt themselves, and through it all, it’s funny. I’ve enjoyed all of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s works, but the thing that always stands out to me about them is his knack for writing witty and realistic dialogue between characters. It’s a big influence on my own writing, and I hope I’ve successfully captured the same tone and humour in The Many Deaths of Lily Kosen.

This one shirt from Killstar

A shirt from the brand Killstar. It features an image of a demonic-looking girl, surrounded by distorted text.

Killstar always produce fantastic shirts, but this one is easily my favourite amongst all of their works. The demonic girl manages to convey a mix of both danger and innocence, resulting in an overall ambiguous, wary feeling. The distorted text, both in overall appearance and what it actually says, produces a feeling that things are slightly off, that they’re not how they should be. All of it blends together to create a fantastic image, and it both gave me the tone I wanted to convey during the more terrifying moments of the game, and solidified the decision to include demons in the plot somehow.


The key art for the visual novel CORPSE FACTORY, by River Crow Studio

The visual novel CORPSE FACTORY, by River Crow Studio, has only been out for a few months at the time of writing, but it’s already gotten plenty of praise and accolades. I first heard of it when it was in its Kickstarter phase, and backed it immediately. It’s got a dark tone and an absolutely killer premise (no pun intended), and looks absolutely amazing. On top of that, it’s made by a team partially based in my home of Melbourne - how could I not be inspired to try and do what they’ve done?  

There’s just one problem, and it’s a slightly embarrassing one. When I said that it looks absolutely amazing? Yeah…I haven’t actually gotten the opportunity to play it in the time since it’s come out. Still, my hopes are high for it and I’ve got very little fear that it won’t meet my expectations.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism

The cover of the novel My Best Friend's Exorcism, by Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix is a pretty damn good author, and in my opinion the best work of his so far is his novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism (sorry, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires). It’s a story about the protagonist’s best friend suddenly starting to act completely differently to normal - cruel, manipulative, and sadistic - and helped convince me to use certain elements within The Many Deaths of Lily Kosen. Some aspects of the climax in particular - without spoiling the novel, let’s just say that it involved boiling water - were particularly inspiring.

Zombie Makeout Club

An image by the artist Zombie Makeout Club. The character is wearing a bloody eyepatch and pulling her eyelid down.

If you haven’t seen Zombie Makeout Club’s artwork, do yourself a favour and check it out right away. It’s grunge-y and gorey, bleak and cynical, and captures a pitch-perfect blend of violence and horror. While a similar aesthetic isn’t present within The Many Deaths of Lily Kosen, the overall tone of the pictures and the vivid emotions they stirred have always been at the forefront of my mind when scripting a death scene in the visual novel.

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