From Software’s soul-crushingly difficult spiritual sequel Dark Souls is on the cusp of its worldwide release, and it’s looking as incredibly awesome (and brutally difficult) as ever. We had a chance to chat with Hidetaka Miyazaki at Tokyo Game Show about the game’s impending release, and what both experienced Demon’s Souls players and complete newcomers can expect from this title.
G4: From Software first appeared on a lot of peoples’ radars with the release of Demon’s Souls, but you’ve actually been producing pretty hardcore, difficult RPG titles for years in the King’s Field series before this. King’s Field never really took off here, but Demon’s Souls was a rousing success worldwide. Did this take you by surprise?
Miyazaki: Well, since Demon’s Souls was a partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment, and Dark Souls has a different publisher, it’s a bit hard for me to comment right now of the performance of the previous title. But we really understand that Demon’s Souls was very well accepted by its players. The growth and success of the game, I think, was the direct result of the players’ ability to learn and react to the game balancing and the various features. The results did come as something of a surprise, but it was a very pleasant surprise!
G4: Dark Souls is dual-platform, while Demon’s Souls was PS3 only. Since it’s pretty obvious why Demon’s Souls was an exclusive (SCE was the original publisher), why did you opt to make a dual-platform title this time?
Miyazaki: We’ve partnered with NBGI for the game’s release in markets outside of Japan, and they suggested that because the X360 has such a substantial international install base, it would be rather silly not to put Dark Souls on that platform, as well.
G4: Dark Souls is likely to be the first experience with this sort of game for players who only own a 360. Do you have any initial advice for these beginning players?
Miyazaki: Advice, huh? *laughs* Well, it is a difficult game. We aren’t apologizing for that. You’re going to die often. But keep at it! The level of accomplishment and the level of satisfaction that you’ll get from completing a particularly daunting challenge is going to be that much greater. It’s something the PS3 crowd has already been through, so hopefully the 360 players will find similar enjoyment in the challenge. Just don’t throw your controller too much! Those things get expensive. *laughs* Don’t give up and aim for that satisfaction in your victory!
G4: One of the biggest draws for Demon’s Souls was the online features. Can you go into what players can expect in the online play this time around?
Miyazaki: The very unique, indirect online system from Demon’s Souls is present in force here. You don’t really get to interact with other players, but you can see and learn from their experience. A new feature that will have a huge influence on things, however, is called the “covenant.” It’s a belief or pledge that players will be able to absorb, and it will help them determine what kind of role they want to play in the game and what sort of actions they want to take against other players and characters. It’s a bit hard to explain in words – perhaps it’s easier for players to simply experience and feel it. But it’s going to be a central aspect of the online play and will hopefully give players a new experience.
G4: Despite the high difficulty of Demon’s Souls, you had devoted players pushing themselves in all manner of crazy ways to make the game even more challenging for themselves. It seems like you’re giving even more support to these sorts of players in Dark Souls.
Miyazaki: *laughs* You know, our goal isn’t so much to just make a difficult game for the sake of simply making a difficult game – our goal is to deliver that immense feeling of satisfaction you get when you conquer something incredibly tough. It’s not linear – it provides a lot of options and strategies for players to carry out. Some players will opt to challenge themselves, while others will take the easier route. But that’s all up to the users. The freedom present in this title will hopefully prove to be a big draw, and deliver a distinct challenge – but allow players to clench their fists and celebrate over hard-won victories.