OniKira: A Lesson In Translating Devil May Cry’s Combat To A 2D Game

By Chris Priestman . August 27, 2014 . 6:00pm

OniKira: Demon Killer is a new 2D, side-scrolling beat ‘em up being developed for PC and consoles by Irish studio Digital Furnace Games. It’s set in fantasy feudal Japan and has you playing a samurai fighting demons from the Japanese underworld to prevent them from breaking into the world of the living. The game is scheduled to release in 2015 for Windows, and will be coming to consoles afterwards. The studio is also hoping to bring it to PlayStation Vita.


Siliconera got in touch with OniKira designer Andrew O’Connor to ask a some questions about the game’s frantic, Bayonetta-influenced combat system, and what demonic surprises will appear across its twisted but beautiful world. O’Conner also revealed why Digital Furnace decided to change the game’s title from HonourBound to Onikira: Demon Killer.


You’ve made it clear that the focus of OniKira is the combat system. Could you describe how you’ve designed it, and what other games would you compare it to?


Andrew O’Connor, designer: We’ve tried to make the combat system flexible in the sense that it allows you to fight in different styles, without explicitly making boxes for those styles. We have four different weapons (Katana, Naginata, Kama Blades (cool sickle like blades attached to gauntlets on your forearms), and Tetsubo), and each weapon has its defining traits along the axes of weak to powerful, and slow to fast, but the combat system lets you mix it up. You can instantly cancel switch from any weapon to any other, with some special cancel branches where switching at the right time will let you go down combo branches that aren’t accessible in any other way.


We have minimal defensive mechanics, pretty much just dashes with invulnerable frames, but nailing the dash is really important to your continued existence. I think one of the coolest moves is a metered power mode when using the Katana where multiple enemies can be tagged before releasing a shit storm of rapid slices through all of them. We’re totally leaning towards fairly frantic, speedy gameplay.


The game is maybe comparable to Devil May Cry or Bayonetta (and I can only hope at least half way as good). Where it’s different is how we’ve combined high-level combat mechanics into a 2D platformer. We’ve tried to make mastery of combat translate directly across into mastery of level traversal, so you only have one core set of skills to learn.



Are there are any chances for the player to customize the character or their fighting style? Perhaps they’re able to upgrade the character as they progress through the game?


There is a tree of unlockable moves for each weapon so you can totally concentrate on maxing out your favourite one, or spreading your hard-earned currency across all four evenly. Some moves might require you to have unlocked certain branches of another weapon first though, so think ahead!


We’re really putting most of our effort into the combat so there aren’t really any RPG elements to the game. Honestly, when I play fighting games, I just want to kill things, and look good doing it. Too many games these days try and squeeze in more content by giving you fairly meaningless upgradable characters that don’t really do anything to enhance that. As a small team, we would have to sacrifice some of the core fighting experience to add that stuff, and that doesn’t seem like a good trade-off.


Could you describe the world of OniKira and explain what players will encounter as they fight across it? There seems to be a gigantic demon in the gameplay video?


The game is set in a fantasy version of feudal Japan that’s been split into four territories. Each territory is home to a single united clan, defined by martial ability and a single dominant weapon and fighting style. During the course of the game, the player will visit each of the four clans, unlocking a new weapon in each. Unfortunately for the clans, the world is being overrun by a twisted dead emperor, intent on returning from Yomi (the Japanese underworld) to the world of the living.


The giant guy in the video is one of the first demons sent across. A complete automaton, these guys have a giant eyeball in their torso that the dead emperor uses to peer out from Yomi through and control the demons body, and uses them to convert living people into vessels that can be possessed by the twisted spirits of their ancestors. He’s a fun guy!



What methods are you using to tell the game’s story?


Super gorgeous motion comic style cutscenes, and in game sequences. Mostly the former. In a perfect world, we’ll have some amazing voice over for the cutscenes.


Why did you change the name from HonourBound to OniKira: Demon Killer?


We all liked the name, but somebody beat us to the punch and released a different game called HonourBound. It’s not at all similar, but it is doing pretty well and we didn’t want to have to fight them with sticks, which is clearly what would have happened. And anyway, OniKira probably has a bit more personality to it.

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  • Rafael Monteiro

    I was excited, but they’re doing this so wrong :(

    Combat timing is wrong, AI is wrong, sad

    • TheGameTagerZ

      The pictures made it look like a Muramasa game :(

    • MrTyrant

      The game also feels very slow. Enemies even slower.

    • PreyMantis

      Yeah, I think they should take some lessons from this game, instead: http://yurination.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/senran-kagura-main-five-heroines.jpg

      • Souffrir

        Second girl from the left.

        Nipples where!?

        • hng qtr

          Nipples don’t exist in the Senan Kagura universe.

        • Kamakuma

          Katsuragi’s shirt defies gravity bro just enough so you’d never see them. It’s a ninja thing~

  • Xion

    Everything in the game is moving too slow :/

  • MXC

    That gameplay video better be on Easy mode or something cuz I doubt anyone else would actually take any damage.

  • Cheng Thoj

    that giant boss fight reminds me of onimusha dawn of dreams :l

  • hng qtr

    Slooooow. And it seems like enemies just stand there waiting for you to hit them.
    Also, what’s up with that enemy on the left on 0:13~0:15?

    • Shady Shariest

      It is a GDC demo :P

  • Spirit Macardi

    A 2D game with Devil May Cry style action and a Onimusha style setting?! HELL YES!!! :D

  • darke

    Soo… Muramasa but with less detailed art and the main character’s movement feels… off? It’s like the character’s feet is moving at a different speed to the character’s body. :?

  • Prinny Dood

    So this is the child of muramasa and devil may cry dood!?

    • Shady Shariest

      Seems like it, Dood.

      • Prinny Dood

        Well ill be damn dood! Im soooooo getting this dood!

        • Shady Shariest

          Looks interesting… But i myself have simply too much to play atm, Dood.

  • れいか

    The game looks… clunky… I was impressed by the screenshots but, after seeing what they have in store, now I’m not so sure to purchase this game. It feels like I will feel certain delays when pressing buttons when I see this trailer. One VERY GOOD example of games that are quick to “react” to a button press would be Legend of Zelda. I may be wrong as I have never played this game. I am also not sure if this still on its early development stage though so may change somethings in the process.

  • 60hz

    looks like they got their influence from the wrong DMC :-(…

    • LustEnvy

      DMC2 right? Because I hope you’re not on that whiny, anti-DMC bandwagon that is just mad that it isn’t the same universe, so they find ANYTHING to bash it on.

      • Arz

        Thank you, they act like DmC is the worst DMC when there’s a game called DMC2. Sure DmC had a lot of mistakes (the color-coded enemies,not 60fps on consoles, etc) but I enjoyed my time with it and I’d play DmC over DMC1&2 anyday.

      • Spirit Macardi

        Yeah, DmC sure was a whiny, anti-DMC game.

  • That actually looks really cool

  • Matt

    I had the pleasure of playing a build of this in June and it feels much better/more responsive than it looks in the above video. I had a lot of fun with it.

  • Agito

    i’ll wait for the final version before i can give my opinion on this. But so far there needs to be some work done in terms of AI and speed

  • Tienron

    there’re an irish company and the thing they make is totally japan related ~_~ i was expecting this with western themes, regardless the game looks amazing.

  • AndrewAtBatCat

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I’m the main designer of the game and one of the developers. I wanted to say to the comments that suggest that the game is too slow, that yes, yes it is:) Or rather, yes it was, because we’ve fixed that. Mostly:) That video was taken back in February before GDC and was still fairly early. We’ll have some new stuff coming out shortly that’ll hopefully blow your minds!

    @れいか Input delays are a massive pet peeve of mine, so we’ve put tonnes of work into making sure there aren’t any:) The game runs at a silky 60fps and the combat system allows for instant cancels, when they’re appropriate (jumping, combat rolling, air evades etc) that keep things feeling really fast and responsive. As Matt says (thanks Matt) it’s feeling much better now:)

    • Tienron

      hopefully you are legit in what you’re saying, im sure the game is going to be great, but why set it in japan and about japan, when western (irish) has so many myths of it’s own. not even ire and itself but like old english and stuff…

      • toogoodforu

        Because they wanted to set it in Japan and make a samurai game?

        Is that so hard to comprehend? Jeez.

      • AndrewAtBatCat

        Glad you like how the game looks. The reason it’s based in Japan is simply because feudal Japanese culture really does it for me:) Stylistically as well, it’s hard to beat a Samurai in full armour chopping shit up. And if you need to look at the same thing every day for at least two years, you better love the hell out of it or it’s going to get really old, really fast:)

    • Arz

      I just wanna say that I planned to make my own 2D DMC style a while ago game after playing the 2D platform VR mission in Metal Gear Rising Revengeance. So please don’t get mad if my dream does come to life.

  • Ni ~Algidus~

    the game is way to slow for something that wants to have a battle system similar to Bayo/DMC, and this is bad since speed plays a huge factor on them

    • Yeah, not feeling this. Too slow and the combos just seem to be real repetitive too. Toss em up, slash, slash, slash, and slow motion dash.

  • TheManWithPants

    When you said “translating DMC combat to a 2D game”, I was expecting something a lot faster, smoother, and all-around more fluid. Not something so slow and clunky…. Disappointing, really, I do like the art style, too bad it animates like a borderline flash game.

  • RedFayt

    DMC and Bayonetta? That’s a tall order. This game is too slow, the combos don’t seem fluid, and the animation is not very good. His body is so awkward when swinging the weapons. One of my favorite things about DMC is the animation and fluid combos. Hopefully this is an early prototype. I do like the art style and what not. Good luck to the Devs and remember, it does no good to compare yourself to the top action games, when even all other triple A games fall so short.

    • AndrewAtBatCat

      Thanks for the comment. What I had in mind when I uttered the words “comparable to DMC or Bayonetta” was that it’s comparable in its combat system philosophy, which is not at all how that ended up sounding:) What I love about those games is that you don’t need to learn obscure sequences of inputs to pull off amazing shit, and you can chop and change (haha:)) across weapons to create your own adhoc combos. That’s awesome. The video above is indeed pretty early footage. We took that in February, and the game’s moved on hugely since then:)

      • RedFayt

        Hey, I’m all for custom combo systems as well. I love changing on the fly as you are able to implement your own unique sense of style. I understand where you are coming from. Good luck with the game and way to be interactive with your audience. I’ll look forward to seeing more updates.

  • Kamen Rider Rayz

    Excellent graphics, but the combat system is too slow. Therefore, I’ll pass….

  • Dizzy Gear

    gameplay looks soild but also looks really slow… I still might buy it.

  • TheFoolArcana

    It lacks impact.

  • MinakoArisato

    It realy looks sluggish… But hey they still have some time to refine it.

  • E.T.993

    Reminds me A BIT of Muramasa. A BIT.

  • FitzpatrickPhillips

    Looks great but I really don’t like that CLANK CLANK noise. It should sound more like you’re slicing through flesh. Not like you’re banging metal against metal.

  • Göran Isacson

    Sure, it moves slow, but I just got off a session of One Finger Death Punch and after that almost ANYTHING looks slow… also there’s the whole “getting judgmental over an alpha-build” stuff, seldom a good choice. I did however notice the DmC nods in the spear that drags up enemies, and it was good.

    I also saw the DmC nod in the slowmoving, obvious weakpoint easy as pie boss, and that was less good. Hoping for improvements there, please. I like the weapon selection so far too: a small selection of weapons gives me great hope that each weapon will not just be reskins with different damage stats and hit boxes, but also have unique functions. The spear drags enemies up in the air, perhaps the claws can be used to grab and throw enemies into other enemies/kick off a beaten enemy to quickly dart around the screen and the club can be both shield and weapon due to its size and durability? Those sort of things.

  • Lazulis

    Can’t wait to see a video with the faster gameplay built in. This would be great on the vita * V *.

  • Magus KilIer

    Can’t wait to see how the finished product looks like

  • Nami

    I see this and just want to go play a faster paced game like The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.

  • Joe Wright

    Really hope the gameplay is speeded up significantly in the final version and the enemies actually attack, because that early video looks to have the same problems as the terrible DmC reboot where only one enemy attacks at a time while the others stand around, and air combos stun lock constantly. Guess time will tell

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