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.