Q: Is it frustrating when you're compared to other games? A comment made by Joe Madureira [Creative Director] recently suggested that you didn't want to be compared to games like Zelda, but given the content I guess it's difficult to avoid it. In the small section I've played this morning, I've already been introduced to Death's horse Despair who's comparable to Epona, the Tree of Life, the Tri-Stone...
HD: It's pretty frustrating because I think it's been ingrained into journalists and the public now. Like, they look at that and it's okay for a certain set of games to continually do that and just refine on something that they're not really going anywhere [with] and doing anything different. They're just doing very slight changes.
But the way we look at it is, you don't look at the driving in GTA and say, 'Well, there was better driving in Gran Turismo'. There was better driving in Burnout Paradise but that game was completely and solely focused on that one mechanic and that's why it was so good. Now, we've done that and again we get, 'Well, it's not as good as this and not as good as that'. But that's all that product focused on. We've been focusing on a lot of things and trying to bring an experience that you can't... I don't think you can get a Darksiders experience anywhere else because there's not a game anywhere else that gets so many different mechanics and things that people enjoy doing in one place.
Even when we were doing the first one, we were looking around and going, 'These guys are only doing melee combat and drops, and it's relatively simple, but we want to do this traversal and this puzzle solving'. Even hiring people to do the sort of level design that we do is very difficult because most games nowadays are relatively scripted. It's point X and point B and it's relatively linear. So when we tried to give designers tests to do the stuff that we wanted to do, they really struggled with it because they weren't used to doing that. The industry has gone in a certain way now where players like their hand held and [being] fed a lot of things. Then something like Dark Souls comes along and really blows people away because, you know what, the effort's been put back on the player again. It's not been taken away from them. It's [not] like, 'no, this game's bloody hard and you're going to have fix it'. Ours is not to that extreme but we certainly have mental challenges in the game that a lot of other games won't have.
It's frustrating, it is very frustrating. If it was one rule for everyone we'd be completely fine. If everyone was like that, we'd be like, 'Fine, everyone judge it like that'. But it's not. It's only certain titles. We apparently seem to be the target of this derivative comment at every single turn, but if someone can point me to another game that does the sort of things that we do in one game then I'd be like, 'Right okay, that's fine, you can compare us to that.'
Q: I would have thought being compared to Zelda would be seen as a compliment.
HD: Well, the word 'derivative' is always used in the article. If anyone says it's like the games that you talked about, of course, anything like that we see as a compliment. But it's a curse as well because they see it as, like, you haven't really done anything to earn that. Everyone has seen [Zelda]. Why isn't everyone else doing it? People have tried to do things like that but they've completely failed at it.
We seem like we've done it right but we still get a little bit whipped for it. We're trying to do something that we think is fun in a genre that I think is dying now. It's hard to do and it costs a lot of money and we're still trying to keep the idea of that action-adventure genre going. It feels a little hurtful sometimes when people are hurting us for doing that.