Chapel of Resonance Interview with Dave Cox

ave Cox, a lead developer of the currently upcoming Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, took time out of his busy schedule for an exclusive interview with the Chapel of Resonance, organized by Nagumo of the Chapel Staff, with questions asked by members of the Anti-Chapel Castlevania Forum.

Hi Everyone,

Nice to meet you all. I have enjoyed reading your discussions over Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. It all makes for very interesting reading!

What is good is that people are talking about the game. This coming year we are going to ramp up and I hope that this will give you a better idea about what this Castlevania is all about, so you can make a more informed judgment.

Some of you will not like what we are doing and I make no apologies for that. This is not the Castlevania you know. I said at E3, "Forget everything you know about Castlevania," and I meant it. This is not going to be a game that is remade or rehashed with imagery that you are familiar with. Why? Because this is one of the core reasons people have not been buying the games.

This game is taking a different approach. A new look and new game play elements to broaden the appeal.

I know some of you will come along for the ride and some of you won't. I knew this when I originally pitched this and so did Konami management, but the sad fact is that this tiny minority who cling to the same formula are just that, a tiny minority, and pandering to the likes of them has made the series unattractive to the market at large and resulted in a tiny number of sales.

Pure and simple, this is the reason for this rebirth. For those who choose not to come on-board, simply don't buy the game!

To those who keep an open mind and are willing to give this version of Castlevania a chance, I simply cannot wait to show you everything we are doing because you are going to be very happily surprised! :-)

A couple a things before I tackle these questions.

First thing is I am a fan of Castlevania, just like everyone else on this forum and have been since Castlevania 1. I have worked in the games industry for over twenty years and have been at Konami for thirteen years. The reason I joined Konami was because of Castlevania. The first game that I worked on as a Product Manager was Symphony of the Night.

Is the game going to include any of the series' recurring monsters, like the classic monsters such as Medusa Heads, Death, Frankenstein's Creature etc.?

Yes. I already stated this. Many enemies will return to this game, but because they have been redesigned to fit this world, you might not immediately recognise them. It is fair to say enemies haven't changed much over the years because many have been reused over and over again. In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, all the enemies have been designed from scratch and modeled in 3-D using the aesthetic we have chosen for this game. Frankenstein's Creature and Mummies do not appear, but the others you mention do and in very surprising ways!

Item holding candles are a mainstay of the Castlevania series. Though their absence may seem trivial, they have contributed a lot to the series' identity. Is there any particular reason why they're not being included, and if there is, what is that reason?

Actually, this was originally planned, but as the game started to come together, this element simply didn't fit, and so we dropped it. Whipping candles to get items simply became monotonous. Instead, in this game, when you kill enemies, they drop items. The world itself is filled with destructible objects like furniture, barrels, carts, chests, etc, and you break these to obtain items also. It feels much more fluid and real and doesn't mean you have to walk down corridors whipping the candles to get what you need. You get what you need as you play.

Will Dracula make an appearance in the game or will someone else take over the role of primary villain?

If I answer this question, it will spoil it for so many people. The story for this game is very rich and interesting and it would be a serious error to tell you anything about it until the game's release.

I don't want people to know the story until the game is out, because I want players to be surprised, and I want them to feel some emotional impact by this story, and revealing all the secrets will simply leave nothing for them. I won't tell my daughter what she is getting for Christmas for the very same reason! :-)

Why is there such a drastic change in the aesthetics from previous games, like the fantasy image this game seems to have? The PS2 3-D games didn't do well because there were big problems with the gameplay. Most agree that the art, music, and graphics were great and really well suited for Castlevania. Lords of Shadow is dividing the fanbase because some feel it doesn't represent the attributes of the series well; not even the older games. So, why is there such a big change?

There are a whole host of reasons why we chose to change the look and the feel of the game, some of which I have already touched upon. If you think CV games haven't done well simply because of game play you are wrong, I am afraid. The DS games have great game play, in my opinion, but people aren't buying them, either. The visuals and the visual choices are not popular amongst the gaming public at large.

Video games have moved on, most people today, like it or not, are not interested in 2-D games anymore. People's expectations are different now for 3-D games, too. They demand better and better quality visuals and they want games to see cutting edge visuals. Castlevania has not been able to deliver that now for whatever reason.

We decided to create a game that had a dark, gritty visual feel. We got inspiration from the original 'vanias, but hell, we didn't copy them. We were inspired by them. Lone warrior facing down evil in a world of nightmare with chain whip. This is a modern take on that concept. I think your statement "most would agree" is just your thought, not the actual reality, and as for the fan base, well I can tell you we get a lot of feedback from people out there every day and I would say 90% of the correspondence is overwhelmingly positive for what we are doing.

How did masks play an important role in the original Castlevania?

Good question! In the original Castlevania games, when you got to Dracula, I always thought he was wearing a mask. I appreciate that this is open to interpretation, but I have seen original concept art that was released in Japan that supports that theory. Of course, this was something that stuck in my mind and because of Carmilla, too. As I played those games first in that order, and being of that older age group, I always felt that masks were part of the Castlevania mythology. I mean it stuck in my mind somehow.

Enric Alvarez of Mercury Steam, who wrote the story for this game, also had this feeling, and so we made it a part of this particular game. I accept it's perhaps not so important to Castlevania in general, but it sparked creative ideas as we put the story together.

Is this game a full reboot, disregarding the series storyline and characters completely, or would you still consider games like Cv1/4,2, and 3 (or any other game) part of the same continuity?

This game is Castlevania reborn, so no, it has nothing to do with the so called canon. Actually, Kojima-san came up with that whole reborn line. We did not want to presume to insert ourselves in the so called time line, nor did we want to be constrained by it. So, we decided to create something outside of it, so we would have the freedom to do something fresh and original. So, in this game nothing that you are familiar with has happened. You have to approach Castlevania: Lords of Shadow with an open mind. Anything goes!

If not, any chance that the game will eventually be included in the main canon anyway?

No chance!! though I don't doubt some players will find a space for it, especially as we have set it before Lament of Innocence, but in reality, this game is not connected.

Will any of the gags that occasionally present themselves be included?

Yes. We do have some funny moments and breaks in the sombre mood of the game. You have to have these moments, in my opinion.

Does the Belmont Clan still have some past history that we can expect to be revealed/ touched upon in the game?

No. We don't touch upon Gabriel's past much at all. There are some big revelations, however, but I won't spoil that here. Buy the game!

Will there be anyone similarly sized to Gabriel in game, or is he just a random freakishly huge guy?

LOL. That villager was a midget! Seriously, Gabriel is 6ft tall, and under his clothing he wears shoulder armour.

That's it. Please follow me on twitter and expect lots of news and big reveals in 2010. I wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. I hope all your hopes and aspirations will be met, and rest assured, as Castlevania fans most (though not all) will be very happy come the release of the game. I wish I could tell you more at this point, but I am under NDA and strict instructions to maintain secrecy.

But, from me, the team at Mercury Steam, and everyone at Konami and Kojima Productions.... to you, our heartfelt best wishes until next time,


The Chapel of Resonance sincerely thanks Dave Cox for the honest and intriguing answers. Follow and join in the discussion of Lords of Shadow at the Anti-Chapel Forum!


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