The Japanese masterminds behind Bayonetta and Vanquish is now developing Anarchy Reigns, which takes the idea online and against multiple human opponents.
Game designer Hirono Sato showed off some elements of the single-player campaign’s gameplay at E3 last week, and it’s all looking decidedly mental. Brutal hub worlds contain a seemingly infinite number of goons to beat up, while your aim is to rack up points to unlock the next battle-based mission.
There are two main characters to control in the Anarchy Reigns campaign mode - the first is returning Platinum hero Jack, who with his chainsaw-wielding arm can rip out the insides of most men. The second is a new chap called Leo, who’s very acrobatic in his robotic nanosuit. He wouldn’t look out of place in a Metal Gear Solid game, really.
I saw a boss battle with Jack facing off multiple ninja characters and a nippy little git called Zero. Things were expectedly mental as Jack teamed up with two other companions to take him out. There was also a cutscene shown between Leo and Jack which suggests the two once knew each other. Now, it seems like they really sort of hate each other’s guts.
After the demonstration, I spoke with Sato about the specifics of the single-player campaign mode, and whether Anarchy Reigns could be considered a sequel to Madworld or not.
Hirono Sato: Yes, there are hub areas that you can walk around in before you select a mission. As these open spaces are set in very rough neighbourhoods, you also have some tough enemies wandering around too. The mission structure works by you fighting those enemies and collecting points. When you gain a certain number of points you can unlock the next main mission or sub mission.
The sub missions are not compulsory to completing the story, but of course the main missions are. Alongside this, the hub areas have what we’re currently calling Rogue Battles. I don’t know if this will be the final name of this feature, or if we’ll have a name at all. But the idea is that if you just stay in the hub world without going into a mission for given period of time, the enemies that you encounter in that area get stronger. We did this to add a greater sense of excitement and fun.
SPOnG: How does the score tie into the game? Will there be leaderboards? Will that carry over into the multiplayer? How does it affect unlockables?
Hirono Sato: The campaign mode will have no online leaderboards. The score is really there to accumulate the points you need to unlock the next mission. So it works as a progression bar more than anything else.
SPOnG: You said both Leo and Jack offered two distinct styles of fighting. How would you describe them to players looking for a particular gameplay style?
Hirono Sato: Jack is quite a rough, no-method kind of guy. His style is really a sort of street fighting, just punching and kicking in whatever way works for him. He brandishes his right arm and uses his chainsaw to slash everyone into little pieces. So very barbaric.
Leo is a little more sophisticated. He’s been trained in Muay Thai kick boxing, so he uses a lot of flash and style to execute his moves. He’s got blades built into his limbs too, so he has this artistic flair when he uses a combination of the two.
SEGA Representative: You don’t have to play through the whole campaign in order to play online, but obviously playing through the full game allows you to unlock all of the characters in the game, so it gives you more variety.
SPOnG: With a game like this, balancing can be an issue. How challenging was it for Platinum to make the balance just right, whilst also considering lag?
Hirono Sato: We as a studio have a lot of experience creating these kinds of action games, both in a co-operative and single-player sense. We have quite good knowledge in adjusting the difficulty levels, perks and strengths between different characters in a game like this.
We also have this very good, flexible engine that we created in-house to make this sort of action-oriented game possible, which allows us to change the smallest details and statistics in each character, and adjust all of the different variables that exist in gameplay. This also affects the balance of each character.
So we have the capability and know how to change and adjust split seconds of animation to make it more smooth and natural when they pull off particular attacks, or when they get hit. Besides this, we also have weekly play meetings in the studio - the idea is that we regularly check on the status of the build and provide feedback to each other. If one of us finds a problem or irregularity in gameplay we can quickly address that and get it fixed for the next build.
SPOnG: Jack’s a character from Madworld, which has a similar style of gameplay to Anarchy Reigns - and it seems that the campaign mode here centres around him an awful lot too. Would you consider Anarchy Reigns a sequel of sorts to Madworld considering your emphasis on Jack?
Hirono Sato: We quite like Madworld as a game and also Jack as a character, so we always wanted to revisit them if we had the chance. When we first came up with the concept of Anarchy Reigns we realised that Jack would match the idea and universe quite well, so we decided to use him as one of the main characters. We also have a few other characters from Madworld making an appearance in Anarchy Reigns as well.
Hirono Sato: No, in terms of the story and the universe, there’s no direct continuity. The relationship is really more inspirational than anything.
SPOnG: Thank you for your time.
Hirono Sato: Thank you very much.
Anarchy Reigns will be heading to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in January 2012.
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