Rakuen is a story-based adventure, but there are no battles. It functions like a mix between Maniac Mansion, To the Moon, and The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (in terms of layout, not in terms of fighting). The hospital itself has a lot of little puzzles and mysteries that evolve throughout the course of the game, and you can gradually help improve the quality of the place as you progress. And of course, a big part of the game is uncovering the stories behind the patients in the hospital, and the secrets of the world around you.
Laura Shigihara is probably best known to gamers as the musician behind "Zombies On Your Lawn," the award-winning (and wickedly infectious) theme song from the mega-hit Plants vs. Zombies. But these days she's hard at work on something of a more personal project: Rakuen, a story-based adventure about a sick little boy living in a hospital. Every day his mother reads to him from his favorite book, about a child in a far-away world who embarks upon a great adventure to be reunited with his tribe. Tired of his hospital life, he asks his mother to take him on the same quest, and so they set off together to discover the Forest Guardian of the story, an adventure that will lead them to learn more about the other patients in the hospital and the secrets and struggles that tie them to it.
“Rakuen's story actually grew out of a song that I wrote called 'Jump,'” Shigihara recently explained. “I wrote it a few years back but didn't end up arranging/producing it until I was asked to submit a track for the Play for Japan album Akira Yamaoka organized after the Tohoku earthquake. When I wrote the song, I thought about two things: I thought about how in life, we often have to go forward and hope for the best, even though we don't know how things will turn out; we don't know if we'll fly or fall. Sometimes we can't do anything at all but hope for the best, and jump. I also thought about how we all have a child inside of us that just wants to be told that everything is going to be alright. Sometimes when your Mom says, 'Don't worry, everything's gonna be alright,' she can't explain how or why it will be, but just hearing it makes you feel better. That's what this song is about.
“That's kind of what Rakuen is about, too. I imagined a little boy living in the hospital, coming to terms with his problems by helping others," she continued. "Perhaps others who are too old to have a Mom, or who are carrying too much on their shoulders to ask someone to be there for them. The boy's Mom gives him the gift of hope, and through his adventures, he's able to pass that on to those around him. Through his actions, he's able to tell them, 'Everything's gonna be alright,' so that they don't have to be afraid to jump.” Read more »