Last week we gave you Part I of our interview with Vigil games producer Jay Fitzloff. Today, we round out our chat and talk RPG elements, a desire for an individual identity and more.
After getting some hands on time with the game, there were two instantly notable differences to the way in which Darksiders II plays. The first was the instant increase in speed and expansion of mobility. The second, more interesting realisation was the implementation of deeper RPG mechanics, which led us towards the question of, why?
“It wasn’t like we set down and said let’s throw these elements in and go that direction. What it was, again, talking about the big dream of Darksiders I and all the features we wanted to have but didn’t have time to do. And all those features were stuff we wanted for Darksiders I but they got left on the cutting room floor. So when we sat to start Darksiders II and, when you make your first game a lot of your time doesn’t end up in the game, it ends up in the engine and fine tuning the message and kind of feeling out your dream and making it a reality. So for the second game, most of our team are the same people, just more people and you get to put all of that focus into the game for the most part; so we had time to put all those elements in. And then in reality, what that is, again there are three pillars in Darksiders II which is combat, platforming and puzzle solving.”
“It’s an expansion; everyone of those is the same basic layout in Darksiders II. But all these pillars are deeper and expanded so in combat, that loot, the skill tree, all that is an expansion of combat. The traversal is expanded because Death is more agile and can climb higher, so level design is more vertical as well as horizontal, so we can make more challenging platforming that way. And then the puzzle solving gets bigger, I don’t want to say harder, but more intricate and bigger. We have more area to work with and death has more options in what he can do with items and combat; so that allows us to create more intricate puzzles.”
Upon its release, it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear the original Darksiders referred to by both fans and critics alike as a successful meshing of The Legend of Zelda and God of War. It’s a hell of a comparison, but we wondered if it was one Vigil was happy with; or did Vigil desire to break away from this self imposed mould?.
“It’s both actually,” Fitzloff shoots back quickly. “We’re happy with the comparison because any comparison that has been made has been a cool game. So, and I don’t want to name any names of a bad game, but if somebody made a comparisons that said this game stinks like X, it would have been like ah well that’s not so great. But yeah, every game we got put up against was an awesome game. We also know that Darksiders is a hard game to encapsulate because it covers a pretty board spectrum of things I think most games would focus on one area, be it combat or platforming. We kind of have this spread of elements, so that’s why we feel people needed a comparison. But also we’re trying to break out and have our own identity, I think what Darksiders does is very unique; that combination doesn’t really exist anywhere in modern games I don’t think. So we’re hoping that when Darksiders II comes out and it’s a success and people get to know it, say a year from now or sometime down the line another game will come out and people will say yeah it has a Darksiders kind of feel. And then we’ll become the touchstone, the comparison point and then I think we will feel as though we’ve achieved or arrived.”
To finish up, we thought it wise to ask the mother of all questions. In one sentence, why should you, a Dusty Cartridge reader, go out and pick up Darksiders II come August. It took some thought, but the reply came out eventually.
“I think people should go buy Darksiders II because it’s a rare breed in games today, in that it’s an action adventure game that actually has adventure in it.”
It’s an intriguing reply, and we’re not ones to end things on a cliff-hanger, so being the inquisitive folk we are, we demanded an explanation. Thankfully, Fitzloff chooses not to slap us and get talking instead. “Well we were just talking before, people still call games action adventure titles, but they’re really just action titles that have an item that’s easy to get, and you get it, and good job”.
“So we’re really making an action adventure title. I think you saw words like, ‘you explore’ and you’re going around and we’re willing to let a player be like, not confused, but it takes a minute. You have to think about what do I do? You know, the old classic “I see that item and I know I want that item but how do I get to it?” Then you look around the environment, you see everything going on, you start playing around with the environment and then eventually you’ll get there.”
“Instant classics like Portal obviously nail this style of gameplay, but not everyone is so lucky. “It’s a fine line between fun and frustration and we’re definitely, that’s a razer’s edge that we’re willing to go along. But we think a player will feel a lot better about solving it on their own and getting to that point and feeling accomplished rather than the arms race of cut scenes that’s going on with action games today, where it’s like kill a guy, awesome cut scene, pick up an item, awesome cut scene; you know like this spoon feeding. I mean the thing about Darksiders II is that we’re kind of an old school game in a new shell or a modern skin and we’re happy with that, that’s our philosophy and that’s the kind of game we like, so that’s what we’re doing.”
Darksiders II hits PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC in August.