The team behind Little Devil Inside, the indie darling debuted at the PS5 Reveal event earlier this week, has taken to social media to apologise for "racist stereotypes" and "stereotypical connotations" of some of its enemy designs.
"In answer to a series of [inquiries] made in the last 24 hours regarding certain character [design] revealed in the PlayStation PS5 Reveal Event showcase trailer yesterday, the LDI team wish to make the following announcement," developer Neostream said via a statement posted to Facebook (opens in new tab) (thanks, Kotaku (opens in new tab)).
"Racist stereotypes of any kind were absolutely not intended, we were not aware of the stereotypical connotations and wish to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by the character design. In addition, no one (not just limited to team members) has ever commented or hinted on the character designs. However, these characters have not been revealed publicly elsewhere prior to the event."
The team went on to add that "the design intention was to create characters who are protectors/guardians of a particular mystic region in the world of Little Devil Inside" and it was not "producing character designs referenced on any real African and/or Afro-American human tribes".
"The focus was on creating colourful masks and our designers were researching masks from all various cultures," the statement continued. "As characters in the game, they move in groups and use blow darts that paralyze when hit. We wished to add character to the mask design and give it life to it - something like the little Kakamora characters in Disney's Moana.
"However, regardless of our intentions, if any people were offended in any way, we sincerely apologize."
Consequently, the team has now agreed to "remove the dreadlocks, change the bold lips, change skin tone, and tweak the dart blower so it looks less like a joint" but has not ruled out changing the design "entirely" if the adjustments "end up not being suitable to the game as a whole". It also stated that as it was their "first game title", they were "still quite naive in many areas".
As Connor reported at the time, Little Devil Inside was first Kickstarted way back in 2015 (opens in new tab). It had a stretch goal for a Wii U version but is only now coming to PS4 and PS5 as a timed console exclusive, along with a PC release. As yet, there's no confirmed release window.