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Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow Interview

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Lords Of Shadow producer Dave Cox to talk about how the latest Castlevania game has come about, fighting misconceptions about the game and what the future may hold.

Play: Do you feel that you’ve managed to win over the sceptics since you announced Lords Of Shadow?

Dave Cox: The thing about the game was that when we first announced it we had to keep a lot of things close to our chest, so I think people misconstrued what we were trying to do with it. There were a lot of comparisons to other games out there that I think were a little bit unfair, but understandable considering what we had actually shown at the time. It isn’t really a hack ‘n’ slash game. You may get that impression from the demo, but once you get hands on with the game I think you’ll see there’s much more to it. It’s a lot closer to what the original concept of Castlevania was all about, especially from the 8 and 16-bit days it was all about the lone warrior and killing supernatural creatures with your whip. We kind of wanted to take it in that direction and be more action orientated and with less RPG elements.

I think people are interested in it, but don’t quite believe it. I get that impression. I talk to people on the forums and they’re saying ‘I really want this game to be great, but I don’t think it’s going to be’. I think people don’t believe it because there have been so many attempts in the past to bring Castlevania to 3D, but I think one of the things that we’ve learnt from that is that perhaps those games tried to replicate the 2D experience in 3D and we didn’t really want to do that.

Play: Were you able to take some comfort from the way a similar game, Metroid, managed to make the transition to a new genre?

DC: There was a lot of scepticism about Metroid Prime when it came out, but it turned out to be a really good game. I’ve always believed that a good 3D Castlevania was possible, but back in the day when I was playing the early games I always imagined Castlevania as a dark, gritty, action adventure. People’s perception has perhaps changed because of the more recent games, but that’s how I perceived and there wasn’t anything else to judge it by. We decided when we first sat down to talk about the game that we wanted to make something a little more mainstream, but also something with a harder edge, darker and with an interesting story.

Play: That’s meant getting rid of some of the more nonsensical elements of the Castlevania series to date. Do you feel that’s another reason some have reacted negatively to the game?

DC: People are saying ‘you’re discarding the rest of the Castlevania series’, but we’re not. Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow doesn’t follow the timeline, it’s not a part of the original series and while it’s 3D it doesn’t mean we’re not going to make 2D games as Harmony Of Despair proves. We’re just making a different vision of Castlevania and that doesn’t supersede anything or cancel everything that’s happened in the past.

It’s a bit like the Ultimates, the reimagined comic books of Spider-Man or the X-Men. It doesn’t mean that other things can’t coexist with it. It’s like Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan’s Batman is fantastic and it’s different to Frank Miller’s Batman, but it’s still Batman.

Play: Now things seem to have come together are you thinking about how to follow Lords Of Shadow up?

DC: Honestly speaking, we never planned past this game. It took us a year to get this game off the ground, developing it for two and a half years, it’s been nearly four years of my life. It was a struggle at first to get the game going, but once we got it going and got Kojima’s backing things kind of opened up. It’s a project that’s got a lot of love in it, a lot of passion, but ultimately we never really looked past it. We just wanted to get this done and if we never made another game we’d still be happy. Now that people are starting to take notice of the game we can start to think about where we go now. What’s next? We announced the DLC, which is something that we’re going to release a few months after the game, but we’re not going to pull a fast one; it’s not stuff that’s already in the game. You finish the game, it’s the game we were going to make and the DLC will be all new content with new levels and new stages. It will continue a little bit from the end of Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow so you get a little bit more story and a bit more about the world and what might happen in the future.

Play: You’ve brought in a lot of top actors and put a lot of emphasis on this game’s story. Do you feel storytelling is the next big challenge for developers now that graphics and physics seem to be in place?

DC: A lot more actors are becoming interested in the games industry, especially younger actors like Robert [Carlyle] and Jason [Isaacs], who were very keen to get involved in the game. I think all developers are looking to improve their quality. The days of Resident Evil’s FMV cut scenes are gone. I think that improvements in all areas of game development, but particular in story telling and cinematics qualities of games, will certainly improve and as more young actors become interested I think the quality is going to skyrocket.

You can read Play’s review of Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow in Issue 197 on sale 30 September

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