It was just a small taster of what to expect. The demo was created to showcase the visuals the game enjoys and as a basic introduction to how the user can enhance Gabriel’s combat and abilities. It is difficult showing the variety of the full game in just two levels, but the first stage is a sampler of the way combat works, while the second level, where Gabriel is horse-bound and battling Wargs and Lycans, highlights the variety of content the final game offers.
How would you describe the learning curve of your combat system?
It’s a constantly evolving system, where the player can decide what to add and when. We wanted to remain true to the exploration ethos of the original Castlevania games, where a picture of the map would indicate areas you had missed for whatever reason.
In CLOS, we have areas that cannot be reached at that point, but with the addition of, say, double-jumps, they can. In terms of combat, the newer moves are essential as the range of adversaries is constantly evolving and their AI is sharpening all the time. We also use it to vary up the combat elements, as we were conscious that combat stages can descend into just button pressing stages. Everything in CLOS is there for a reason and hones the gameplay.
What’s your approach to storytelling?
That it works symbiotically with the game. When Mr Kojima came on board, he worked closely with us to show how the story can feed the game and vice versa. Our initial outline for Gabriel was that of a generic barbarian, but Mr Kojima’s input helped us flesh him out, and new elements for the action segued from that. It was because we had such a rounded character that could be emphasised, that the actors such as Robert Carlyle had more to work with – which I think shows in the final product.
You’ve assembled a really impressive cast; did you have those actors in mind from the beginning?
We always had the cast we got in mind, and they have been brilliant. What could have been an ‘in and out’ voiceover job for them wasn’t. Instead, their love of the script and praise saw them developing their characters and working through the motivations for them – offering little nuances and touches that we knew actors of their ranges and talent would bring to the project.
One of the things I remember about the original games was a lot of repetition, but in a good way, if that makes sense, encouraging players to revisit areas to find something new. Will we see more of that, or is it just not in keeping with current fashions?
Actually, repetition is not a part of CLOS – if anything, we have been obsessed with constantly surprising the player. We were determined that CLOS would not fall into the‚’level, level, boss, level, level boss’ cliché that some games suffer from. Yes, there are nods to past Castlevania games and we have patterns that fans of the series will recognise, but this was about delivering a new Castlevania – and we wanted to create fresh elements that people would enthuse about.
There has been a fair amount of controversy around the new Dante in DmC: Devil May Cry, another IP created in Japan and now being rebooted by a Western developer. Did you ever fret over a similar reaction?
God yes! When we announced we were doing CLOS, there were so many negative comments. People loved Castlevania, and felt that it was being sold short. I had to convey that it was my love for Castlevania that A) made me want to work for Konami in the first place and B) try to breathe new life into it. As we have shown more and more of the game, I think some of the doubts have been cast aside and the fanbase is now looking forward to the rebirth more than being wary of it.
CLOS has been compared to many games, including God of War and Shadow of the Colossus; which ones have you agreed or disagreed with?
Castlevania is a series that is 25 years-old. It is fairer to say that the games you mention owe their existence to it, than Castlevania to them! We are in 3D, have huge real-time bosses and a mixture of combat and platform styles – as such there are links to any number of games there.
However, when you look at the greater picture, CLOS is a game that mixes and matches these elements to constantly surprise the player. It is inevitable that a new game is going to be compared to other games as people often need to pigeon hole stuff to understand it, but hopefully after CLOS everyone else’s games will be billed as CLOS clones!
How sick are you of that last question?
It used to bug me, but it had to be expected when CLOS was an unknown quantity!
It seems a recent trend for fans to debate around which is the ‘lead platform’ during game development. Why did you decide to ‘lead’ on PS3 and does it really make a big difference?
Hmmm, I think that the ‘lead’argument traces back to a comment I made early on in the game’s development. The two formats were developed side-by-side but, at the time of that interview, the PS3 version was more advanced. Loose lips and all that…
Do you want CLOS to be judged as a Castlevania game or as a breakaway project?
Can I have both? It has enough elements to please Castlevania fans, and has little nods to the past and touches that they will recognise and appreciate, but it is not bogged down with the whole canonical scenario, so is a perfect new jumping on point for newcomers. Yeah, both please…