Devil's Third is now roughly one month from release in PAL territories, with its Japanese release also coming in August. It's been a source of plenty of debate, with various early previews being critical of the title, yet there's naturally hype and excitement around the action experience.
Game Director Tomonobu Itagaki, whose previous works include the Dead of Alive and Ninja Gaiden franchises, is understandably hugely passionate about the project; it's the first finished game from his independent company, Valhalla Game Studios.
Part of the allure of this title is its hybrid of FPS and action brawling, and Itagaki-san has often stated that it's a first of a kind and a game changer. On the relationship with Nintendo it's explained that both sides pushed each other on the project, and the project's leader outlined to Famitsu (translation posted by Itagaki-san on Facebook) that he feels the project contributes, in a small way, to the continuing evolution of Nintendo.
More than that — and I'm not being patronizing — Nintendo is trying to change itself on a large scale. The way I see it is that we were entrusted to help with one small part of that change. For example, with things like online multiplayer, Nintendo is trying to break out of the paradigm they've held for so long by exploring all kinds of new angles; and as our part in that plan, we were to make a completely new type of game—something that Nintendo had never made, that wasn't in their portfolio. In the beginning, they were telling me, "This isn't very Itagaki-esque. We want it more Itagaki-esque." That's how much they were saying, "Do it!"
Though we have plenty of reservations about aspects of the solo campaign, we're still particularly intrigued by the online component. In addition to various modes it has clan and diplomacy systems, which do seem to fit with Itagaki's goal of shaking up conventions. Below was his explanation of the in-game chat when playing online.
Right. That's why we implemented a diplomacy chat. Of course, if all the members were participating, it'd be impossible to follow; so that's why it's limited to just generals [the highest-ranked clan member], and captains [officers]. As the clan grows in size, the number of captains it can appoint increases, and captains can begin and engage in diplomacy chat themselves. There are a lot of things they can do—not just diplomacy, but managing and discussing internal affairs, et cetera. Generals and captains from multiple clans can also join in large meetings. Just like a top-level summit. So, chat is a really important part of the game. It can be used to discuss strategy: "We're going to launch an offensive against this clan this day of this month, so we'll need you to do so and so." Sounds fun, doesn't it?
Finally, a lengthy answer was given when asked about the lengthy development period for the title, which has seen it change publisher following THQ's bankruptcy and move to Wii U from PS3 and Xbox 360.
Well . . . If we had given up, then we wouldn't be able to show our face to all the people that had supported us up to that point. There wouldn't be any opportunity for us to work in this industry anymore. That's just how it is. We developed Ninja Gaiden in 4 years, and that was with us developing multiple lines at the same time, so it's not a particularly long time. Our desire was to complete the game by any means while establishing our company structure, developing the game itself, and keeping the company going all at the same time. We were finally able to make it through thanks to Nintendo who really made it all possible along with everyone in the industry, and also thanks to the expectations from all the fans and gamers that were waiting. With all that support, I couldn't be someone who would drop it all and walk away. That's one part. And on top of all that, we had already made the decision to make the game. We brought in staff to execute that decision. Those staff, their families . . . I'm repeating myself, but all of our fans . . . I couldn't just betray them. "So you did it just as some personal responsibility?" No, it's not like that either. You know, sometimes if I'm speaking with someone, they'll tell me that I've changed. Establishing my own company, I'm pretty much free to do what I want, and I'm also solely responsible for what I do. It can be a pain sometimes, but at the same time it gets you in the mood to just get it done. So as I said before, for all the support we've received in every form imaginable, and for letting me introduce Devil's Third like this here today, I'm incredible grateful. Like I said in the beginning, it's a culmination of everything so far—not just mine, but of everyone that works here. Please try it for yourself. I think it's going to be a breakthrough for the industry. I believe it's going to take shooters to the next level.
It's worth checking out the full interview. In our own first impressions of the Devil's Third solo campaign we felt that there were strong ideas trying to shine, but technical shortcomings and some questionable design hold it back. It'll be intriguing to see how that campaign progresses and whether multiplayer proves to be a key part of the experience. Itagaki-san believes that the solo and online play combined deliver "two full games worth of content".
Are you excited about Devil's Third's releases? It arrives in PAL regions on 28th August and is due in North America in Q4.