Recently I was given the chance to go hands-on with LET IT DIE, the latest game from developer Grasshopper Manufacture. You can read about my time with the game, totaling nearly three hours, in a separate article. Here you can view, or read depending on your preference, my interview with Game Director Hideyuki Shin about the upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive.
Steven Santana: What drew you to Grasshopper after working on PES, Dance Dance Revolution, and Silent Hill 4?
Hideyuki Shin: The biggest thing was when I was at Konami I worked alongside Akira Yamaoka. At the time when Akira joined Grasshopper he asked me, “Hey Shin do you want to come over Grasshopper?” As a graphic designer at the time I saw that Grasshopper was a development company that made a lot of new IP. Every game was a new IP every time. So there wasn’t a lot of 1, 2, 3, 4’s in that sense, and that was appealing. And I said if Yamaoka-san is there then I think that would be cool. And that is how I got over to Grasshopper.
SS: What was it about Violence Jack that appealed to you to incorporate elements into LET IT DIE?
HS: The twisted, dark world setting was the biggest influence for LET IT DIE.
SS: What can I spend the in-game money on?
HS: So as you collect kill coins from defeating enemies, the biggest way you would use them would be within the waiting room, your home base. There is the mushroom club. You can spend your coins there to get skin decals to apply to your fighters to activate passive skills. Or the weapons and armors you have crafted you can then purchase to apply to your fighters. That is the main usage of coins. The other usage is for the elevator, not the pretty one, the more junky, typical elevator you use and pay a fare for. The higher you go up the more you have to pay. The paying system is based off of the distance traveled in the elevator.
SS: How did you create the various animations for killing enemies?
HS: The biggest thing was the designers, the animators, and the art director based them off of the equipment that was created for the game. So looking at the equipment and thinking what would be a fun and interesting, or hilarious or cool looking way to kill someone with this stuff. And they started from there and we worked together and created the various animations for the goretastic finishes.
SS: When coming up with the weapons did you think of what would make sense in this world or just look for fun items?
HS: If you notice from the weapons and armor, things aren’t really fantastical, magical, or sci-fi. A lot of them are things you can find in the everyday world, our world in that sense. The design took what can you take from this world and what can you mix together to make even more intimidating, crazy, or just dangerous. And that is where the concept artist took it.
SS: When I lose my ability to continue after death and have to start over is everything lost?
HS: There are things you will lose upon death, but some thing swill also remain. Something that is not attached to the fighter that you lose upon death is the master level. You notice while playing there is a kind of level up for weapons. Each weapon has its own mastery level that you can be better at. The more you use a bat, or say a gun, or machine of some sort, the better you become at using it and you get some perks. That does not go away. Another thing that you can see is that the mushroom club where you get the skin decals, and also the shop where you can buy your weapons and armor that you have been crafting. Those will stay as is. Even if you run out of fighters and have to start from level one again you can go into your shop. Buy some decals to make your fighter a little stronger, go to the shop for weapons and armor, and if you have a lot of really cool and strong gear you can deck them out from the start. Your level one will be pretty strong. So those things will remain upon death.
SS: What was the inspiration for the Grim Reaper?
HS: In the earlier stages of development for LET IT DIE there was going to be a Grim Reaper that would be the storyteller. He would be set as the guide for the player and bring them through the tower to help them reach the top. Throughout development, as the gameplay systems and action started getting hashed out more, the team started looking and seeing what would be interesting. If we put him in here, and insert him here, and what if we have him interact with the player a little bit more. We’ll have him call the player senpai and have him mess around and joke a little more. When you do the goretastic finish he shows up going “Whaaa!” These things were slowly added on during the development process and made him what he is now.
SS: When I die and leave behind a Hater does it learn from my play style?
HS: For the most part it is not so much that it is going to copy your playstyle. The biggest thing is that when you leave a Hater, or you come across any other Haters that players have made, is the equipment. Not only the equipment but also the mastery level that you have obtained is also tied to the hater. Say your mastery level for the hammer is really high. You have added a few new attack styles, and it doesn’t use up that much stamina. You also have a nail gun but you don’t totally use the nail gun since the mastery level is not very high. There is a good chance, a very good chance, that it is going to use the weapon that it is better at. This would be the hammer, to come at you a lot more and be really fierce with it. Rather than focusing on the nail gun which has a lower mastery level. It is very reliant on how they attack you with the mastery level they have achieved, and the weapons that they are carrying.
SS: Will the narrative delve into what happened before or is it more concerned with the events going on in-game?
HS: In actuality for the most part most Grasshopper games up until now have been scenario-story based and then the game systems are created after that. LET IT DIE is very interesting in the collaboration between Grasshopper and Gung-Ho. It was slated to be a free-to-play action hack and slash rogue-like survival game. At that same time when that system was decided, the world, setting, and the characters started being hashed out. Instead of one coming before the other, they kind of were developed at the same time. During development the game system wanted to do this, the story is like this, so lets change the story a little bit. Even in a way the story, the world, the setting is this so maybe change the gameplay like this. And so they worked at the same time in unison, in a sense parallel to each other, but still together making sure to meet at the right points so everything matched up in the end.
SS: Where could someone find more information if they wanted to know more about LET IT DIE?
HS: The game is slated for 2016, there is not a lot of weeks left as you can tell. Once it is out, if you have a PlayStation 4 and download it and play around to discover those mysteries for yourself.