Video game producer, David Cox talks about his final Castlevania installment, the goals for the series and where the future lies.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, one of Konami’s oldest franchises prepares to culminate its two-part (the 3DS version was a side story) series from Mercury Steam next month. And we managed to not only get one last crack at the title before it ships, but we also sat down with producer, David Cox to get his thoughts on one of the most famous mythological beings in history and how they plan to close things out on LOS2.
The Castlevania games have always had a big connection with Nintendo’s famed Metroid franchise, most notably through the backwards exploration and staggered platforming. So one of the first things we wanted to learn was how this aspect would play out in Lords of Shadow 2.
Raymond Solis: Can we expect more Metroid-esque exploration? That sort of backtrack style or is it something like, when you get powers and then you have to go back to a previous level, like in a Metroid game?
David Cox: “I suppose it’s similar to that. It’s more, I guess, like Batman: Arkham Asylum, not like Arkham City where you’re plopped into the middle of the city and have to kind of explore and do stuff. It’s more like we lead you on a path and that path gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And then you start to realize, ‘oh, I got this ability and now I can go back to that area.’ Because you do revisit previous areas that you’ve been to before; so that backtracking, Metroid-style, I guess, is there, but it’s not deliberate on our part to make it like that.
I guess it’s more like a Zelda game. You know, Zelda you start off in the village and you kind of, as go away, you do more dungeons and the work becomes bigger and bigger and then you find yourself doing things in the world that you weren’t doing before. It’s more like that I guess.”
All game similarities aside, if there’s one thing CVLOS2 has that separates itself from friendly-rated titles like Metroid and Zelda, it’s its mature content. Lords of Shadow 2 looks to be one of the darkest chapters ever released. This was evidenced during our play through, which was the same as the Comic Con preview build, though we were able to go ahead of the titan and mini boss battle; getting a glimpse into the narrative.
To be frank, it’s dark, gritty and violent. In one scene we saw Dracula, weak and somewhat confused, wandering the streets in modern day, only to find himself ambushed in the alley by powerful demon-like entities. After a near fatal encounter, the dark lord finds a family within his grasp and without hesitation, slaughters them for blood. It was one of those moments where you’d expect the scene to cut for sensory’s sake, but lo and behold, we sat and watched this grimacing event, free of edits.
It was like viewing an R-rated blood sucker film like The Lost Boys, Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Interview with a Vampire, to name a few. You know, the good vampire movies that came before the eye-rolling, tween centered, Twilight series, you get the point.
The goal for Cox and company was to make a “statement” about the kind of game Lords of Shadow 2 is. It’s certainly not for everyone and definitely within the mature realm of titles. Additionally, scenes like the aforementioned cinematic will come about periodically to remind players that they’re controlling a bad guy, who, needless to say, will be doing bad things. It really is all about Dracula and, based on our experience, is a step in the right direction.
With that said, where does that leave Mercury Steam once CVLOS2 is all said and done?
RS: Is there any information you can give us on what your future plans are? Maybe your next project?
DC: “Umm, we’re working on a next generation project, for PS4 and Xbox One. And that’s all I can really say right now. It’s not Castlevania related, it’s completely different. But we’re working with Mercury Steam. That’s the main thing, Konami and Mercury Steam are continuing to work together.”
Cox later confirmed that Konami's relationship with Mercury Steam would become more permanent, noting that the studio has a "bright future" that "Konami believes in." Not much could be shared past this, but we can expect more collaborations from the pair.
Konami did showcase a boos battle from CVLOS2 that highlighted some visceral combat using not only Dracula's dynamic weapon combinations, but some incredibly powerful "relic" abilities; each relic granting the dark lords unique powers.
Cox couldn't speak on every relic, but one of the more extravagant powers shown depicted a dragon form, where you become a huge dragon, wiping the area clean of enemies. One relic manipulates time, while another grants you unlimited chaos and void power for a short duration; a handy relic if you're in a pinch and unable to focus your energy toward chaos or void abilities. We're told there's even a relic that helps you find secrets.
You can imagine how expansive combat can become when you couple these powers with weapons and combos. It's greatly evolved since the first Lords of Shadow game. And based on what we saw, it's all for the better.
One thing's for sure, it's Dracula's stage come next month.
Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 will launch on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC for $59.99 on February 25 of this year.