Revenant Interview: Mimi Uses PS1 Vibes to Transcend Machinima in Their Upcoming Cyberpunk Series
I am sure that many of my dear readers are familiar with the current resurgence of PS1 throwback games in the independent horror game community. Frankly, they are everywhere, and who can blame them, the PS1 was the first console for many people who would now be getting to the prime age for game development. But why should all that sweet, glorious aesthetic nostalgia be limited to the medium of video games? That was the question Mimi tackled head on when they created the world of Revenant, an upcoming animated series that aims to bring your memories of watching Berserk and playing Metal Gear Solid, and combine them into one rad story of vampires and cyberpunk violence.
Growing up, I have fond memories of watching miscellaneous machinima movies across multiple sites, and when I saw Revenant, and learned that it was in fact, not a video game, it reminded me of the classic Monty Oum animations, and made me curious to learn more. I reached out to Mimi to ask if they would be interested in discussing their project. Thankfully, they are not being hunted by super soldiers in a post-post-apocalyptic world, so they were able to carve out some time so I could shed some light on this vampire infested world.
Getting started, I was curious as to what led Mimi down the path of not making a game, but not quite making a normal animation either. Clearly, Revenant is rooted in a love of both gaming and anime, but I wanted to know which path Mimi started on, so I asked them if they started as a game dev and moved into animation, or did they start in animation, and aim to make it emulate PS1?
Mimi: It was a bit of the second thing actually. I grew up playing some of these games, I didn’t always have easy access to them, slow computer trying to play PC ports. But I always really liked the look of the old PS1, 64 games. And a lot of my experience is actually watching playthroughs of them in the early days of YouTube. So Revenant didn’t start out with this look, but over time, it sort of nestled into a sort of slightly more modernized approximation of the look. Because pixel art is very popular, and people accept that as just an art style rather than like, necessarily being a retro look. So I’ve tried to take the same approach with the look of Revenant, not so much a retro video game look, but just using this low poly PS1-ish look more. It’s just an art style rather than specifically emulating the look of a game… Also grew up watching machinima videos. So that’s just something that was always in the back of my mind, watching video games like shows and movies, basically. So I’ve kind of taken that to a more extreme extent, I guess. Literally using that as the look for a show.
It was clear that nostalgia was the root of the inspiration for the low poly PS1-adjacent style, but as a PS1-graphics-snob myself, I was curious as to whether they had the limitations of the PS1 in mind, so to clarify I asked Mimi if the PS1 visuals were based more on their nostalgia, how it is remembered, or were there any considerations for the way polygons and animations were rendered back then?
Mimi: Yeah, but I also wanted to elevate the look of it rather than just the look of the PS1. Because, for another example, modding for Zelda is a pretty popular thing, for Ocarina of Time. And it’s pretty neat to see people take that original engine and look, and elevate it further beyond what the console was capable of at the time, while still staying within that look. It’s always super neat to me… I’m not so worried about the authenticity of the look. And I try to make that clear when I can, that I’m more using it as an art style rather than a literal replication of the PS1.
Frankly, I loved the style either way, and commented that when I first saw it I thought it was a game, naturally, but after learning that it was an animated series my curiosity was piqued. It reminded me of an animated movie I had seen on MTV years ago, titled Galerians: Rion.
Mimi: It’s really rooted in just growing up watching playthroughs of games like Metal Gear Solid. I was like, regardless of how they looked, I was still thoroughly entertained just watching them. So it’s really rooted in that as well. Another huge influence was Red vs Blue, using like, in-game Halo footage to create a show.
Knowing that a project rarely starts in the same shape it finishes, I was curious as to how Revenant had evolved from it’s conception. With that in mind, I asked Mimi if the style or the story came first when creating the world of Revenant.
Mimi: So, a little over three years ago, I initially had the idea of making a show or a short series. Basically making a show in the style of Final Fantasy VII, being a very similar setting, fighting similar characters, similar enemies. So it really started out as a show like that, based off of Final Fantasy VII, and over time, it sort of took on more of its current form of, at least aesthetically being Metal Gear Solid-esque. Vampires I was always a fan of and that wasn’t a thing for Revenant from the start, it came a little bit later. But I was always a fan of vampires, so it just felt natural to do something with that finally. It was just sort of a small, little side project I was working on in my own time with a friend. And it just kind of escalated outside of my control, and now I’m here.
On the topic of the inspirations for Revenant, I had seen that Mimi had made multiple mentions to Metal Gear Solid and Berserk as being main inspirations for the series. Considering the fact that I was a big fan of both of those things, doing all of my writing next to my Metal Gear Solid and Berserk action figures, I wanted to know what that meant for the series. So I asked Mimi if they could tell us what fans of those series may have to look forward to in Revenant?
Mimi: So far as Metal Gear Solid‘s influence, it’s first and foremost, aesthetically, the look of the game, the artwork by Yoji Shinkawa. I also like the honest absurdness of those games, that’s a big influence in my storytelling and how I approach these different concepts. For Berserk, it’s the darkness, but also the humanity that franchise has, the character Guts, at a glance being this brutish berserker, you think he is going to be this bloodthirsty guy. But as you learn more about him, there’s this legitimate depth and humanity to the character. I really enjoy that aspect of Berserk and try to bring that to my work.
Aside from Metal Gear Solid and Berserk, it seemed like the influence for Revenant came from all over the place. I asked Mimi if there were any unconventional influences that may not seem apparent at first glance?
Mimi: Another influence, something that I haven’t been as vocal about, they’re not as immediately obvious, but Zelda and Metroid have also been otherwise pretty significant influences. Zelda being this big epic; Metroid, having fleshed out worlds and obviously Samus has of course been an influence on the main character Nova.
An influence that I’m not really vocal about at all is the anime and manga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. It just has these insane concepts, these super outlandish characters, these crazy battles. Taking that in but like, these crazy things come from a genuine place so people fall in love with these characters. Anyway, that’s another thing I’m not shying away from in Revenant, the more outlandish goofy stuff.
Moving on from the topic of inspiration, I wanted to learn more about the world and worries of Revenant, so I asked Mimi if she could tell us about the core characters and locales in the series?
Mimi: Well, for the world of Revenant, which is something I haven’t really touched on, but I guess I can get into a little bit here without spoiling anything. First, to get into the basic story of Revenant, it’s essentially about this group of characters that have with dark pasts, terrible things they’ve done, these deep regrets, who have taken on the task of joining a conflict for the betterment of the world as some form of repentance, repentance for redemption. The world is post-post-apocalyptic. There was an apocalypse centuries in the past and the world has since made its recovery. But the after effects are still there, the vampires, the cyborgs that have been created to fight these vampires.
Think of what I can get into without spoiling anything major. There are also characters designed specifically counter to these darker, more bleak characters. I’ve posted the characters, Vita, Quinn, they’re deliberately at odds with the bleak nature of Revenant’s world, they are meant to be spots of hope in this bleak world. The world is a bit of a mixture, a pretty even mixture of fantasy and cyberpunk, which is rooted in initially being FF VII inspired. So there’s obviously these super high tech cyborgs, but we also have characters that can use essentially magic and spells. Obviously, there’s an element there with there being vampires. It’s not quite one specific thing, it’s a pretty even mixture of different things.
I had seen the promotional art shown for the big four, that being Nova, Tristan, Vita, and Quinn, and I asked Mimi if these four would be the main protagonists facing off in each episode against the TOMB soldiers and vampires shown so far?
Mimi: Yes, they are the core cast of Revenant… We definitely have our villains that we haven’t shown off yet. One of which we will be revealing in the coming weeks to give people more to work with, more of what to expect… And with the character Nova, there are very much internal conflicts regarding her past and things that she’s done, stuff that she has to deal with within herself, beyond just fighting these vampires and whatnot. So that’s a thing we’re very excited to show people.
One thing we had touched on earlier in our conversation, but I was very curious about, was how Mimi was reacting to the overwhelming positive reactions to the teaser materials for the series. I asked Mimi how the public support made them feel, and how it affected the morale of the team?
Mimi: It’s been insane and honestly pretty overwhelming. But it’s made us just that much more excited to like, really sink our teeth in the production. Now we know we have plenty of people who want to watch this, so it’s been a pretty sizable morale boost for the team. Because before, just even a couple of weeks ago, we didn’t know what people would really make of this or what they would think. We were just kind of planning on putting something out and seeing what people thought. But now with all of this, it’s like, we’re gung-ho, we’re ready to really do something with this. It’s been crazy.
While we were discussing the team, I asked Mimi how large the team had grown at this point?
Mimi: We have a team of 12 right now. Mostly writers, artists. As far as animators, it’s me and one other, we’re hoping we can grow the team as we amass a bit more of a stable budget. We’re going to be deciding on the voice of Nova in a couple weeks, we’ll be opening more auditions for more of the cast within the next month. They’ve all been super, super helpful in getting this off the ground. They’re all super creative, super passionate. And like I said, we’re just now super excited to get going on this.
While it was very cool to hear that, I wondered if there was any change in creative direction, with so many new writers coming onto the project, so I asked Mimi if after everything, they were still running the show as lead writer and series director?
Mimi: Yes, I came up with the project. I worked on it, mostly myself with a little bit of help from a friend for a couple years. Then a year ago, we realized, “hey, there’s actually something here that maybe we can do more with.” So, a little over a year ago, I decided to finally make a Twitter, have a bit of an online presence, start to just do stuff here or there. And really the team we have we’ve only had since the very end of last year, the very end of December, it had mostly been me up to that point. But everyone else has had very major contributions to the project, and elevating it far beyond what it was for a while. So I am the head of the project, but like, it’s definitely not all me, it’s been a huge group effort.
I loved hearing that despite the growth of the team, Mimi was still in complete control of executing their vision. With the team being expanded and the new wave of support from the internet, I wondered how the entire project was coming along, so I asked Mimi if they could tell us about where they were at in the production of the series?
Mimi: We’re still pretty early on in production, so we’ve been starting to like, gain our footing. But I think we’re starting to hit our stride now. The storyboarding is going very well, it’s actually going pretty quickly. So we’re hoping as that progresses, to get into, in the coming weeks, recording the dialogue with our actors. Hopefully in a month we’ll be starting animation. So far it’s going surprisingly quickly. Granted, it’s at the moment a pretty small scale production. The episodes content isn’t too intensive.
On the topic of the production, I asked if they still felt like they were going to make their release window of Spring 2023?
Mimi: Yeah, at the pace the project is going. Anything could change at any moment, but right now, we’re thinking June is a pretty safe bet for when this pilot episode will be coming out.
Considering the length projects of this size and scope tend to be, I asked Mimi if we should expect the pilot to clock in at around 10 or 11 minutes?
Mimi: Yeah, somewhere in the ballpark of 10 to 15 minutes for this pilot.
I was excited to see the pilot when it released, and the full series following thereafter, but there was one thing that I simply had to know before I wrapped up the interview. Before we brought the interview to a close, I asked Mimi, if Revenant exceeds expectations and does very well, would they ever consider making it into a videogame?
Mimi: 100%. In a perfect world, Revenant would be a game. But to make a good game, it really takes more work than what we’re doing. But if this does take off, 100% we’d love to make a Revenant game in some capacity. Whether it’s the same story itself, or side story, whatever it be. We would love to make a Revenant game at some point.
With that spark of hope for the future, I thanked Mimi again for their time, and left them to get back to crafting the world of Revenant, eager to see the PS1 inspired world when it came out later in the year.
If you want to stay up to date on the project, it’s release, and see more behind the scenes details, be sure to follow Mimi on their personal twitter page, and of course, if you are looking for the latest and greatest in ghoulish gruesome gaming (and sometimes animation) be sure to head back to DreadXP and read more of our frightful features!