The developers of indie game Little Devil Inside - which was showcased at this week's PS5 Reveal Event - has apologised for racist caricatures included in its teaser trailer.
In a substantial statement shared via social media, the team said "no one (not just limited to team members) has ever commented or hinted on the character designs" and they had not referenced "any real African and/or Afro-American human tribes", despite the trailer including enemies with dreadlocks, large lips, and loincloths.
"Racist stereotypes of any kind were absolutely not intended, we were not aware of the stereotypical connotations and wish to apologise to anyone who may have been offended by the character design," the LDI team said via a Facebook post (thanks, Kotaku). "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 design intention was to create characters who are protectors/guardians of a particular mystic region in the world of Little Devil Inside," the statement continued. "We were 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. 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."
In response to feedback, the studio has confirmed it will remove the dreadlocks, change the "bold lips" and "skin tone", and "tweak the dart blower so it looks less like a joint". It further added that if these changes end up not "being suitable to the game as a whole", the design may be changed entirely.
"However, regardless of our intentions, if any people were offended in any way, we sincerely apologise," the studio concluded. "On a minor note, this is our first game title and we are still quite naive in many areas. As always, we thank you all for your support!"
As Bertie reported when The Devil Inside was revealed at this week's PS5 Reveal Event, Little Devil Inside was Kickstarted years ago but never appeared. It was once scheduled for release in 2016, even on Wii U it was so long ago, but evidently development stretched out. The developers, from South Korea it looks like, didn't drop off the radar but kept updates going, though no one seems to have been prepped for the PlayStation 5 reveal.