Video game publisher THQ brought plenty of Death to the Comic-Con International in San Diego this week with the forthcoming “Darksiders II,” and to celebrate the upcoming sequel it held a panel titled The Art of Death and “Darksiders II.” Joe Madureira, the Creative Director for developer Vigil Games’, opened the panel with art director Han Randhawa alongside him, as well as Dark Horse Comics’ Roger Robinson.
Madureira opened up by discussing the original “Darksiders,” as well the reason War was chosen as the protagonist for the game with all Four Horsemen available explaining War was the best choice to play a heroic character. From there, he led into “Darksiders II” and how Death was chosen for the sequel, as well as how the story ties in with the original. In the latest game, Death tries to vindicate his brother War who has been held accountable for the apocalypse that doomed humanity.
From there, Madureira showed off sketches of Death and discussed how he evolved from his original design into a raw Reaper form of sorts, the one that gamers guide through the underworld over the course of his journey. The crow that accompanies Death also appears in the sketches, and the team noted he does play a role in the story. Madureira then showed off an additional picture, but this time with a closer look at Death’s face, consisting of two eyeholes, a narrow nose hole and no mouth.
Armaments were also discussed, with dozens of scythes, hammers and other weapons shown on the screen. Over the course of the game, Death is able to pick these up from enemies, changing up his combat style. Early drawings were also shown of Despair, Death’s store, who he can call upon within the game. A variety of other characters were also featured including the Crowfather whom Death must find midway through the game in order to continue on his quest.
From there, Randhawa took over the panel, explaining the challenges of taking the art designs and turning it into usable elements for a video game. He showed off the process of sculpting figures and frames into the game, which takes a bit more time than you might expect with shading and compression. Madureira added that it’s “months of work,” but the team was able to finish up style sheets and move on with development.
After Randhawa jokingly gave Madureira a hug, he ceded the floor to Robinson who took over to discuss the game’s comic book tie-in, to be published by Dark Horse. He showed off early script pages from the company’s comic tie-in, showing how they tie in with the video game story and started with concept work before going into final coloring. Though brief, Robinson did make the explanation to the point. He also showed off some interesting sketches showing Death in raw form, which elicited a few chuckles from the crowd.
The floor was then opened up for questions. Fans asked about various things, including the collector’s edition comic book that’s currently being offered exclusively through Gamestop pre-orders (a hardcover edition of which is being prepared for release in December), as well as the Wii U version, which is slated to come out sometime next year. Vigil’s team also hinted about having a project in the works for the next generation of consoles, but were mum about specific.
One attendee asked if Madureira was working on covers for the comic book, and Madureira confirmed he drew the first issue cover but couldn’t confirm any further involvement. That was followed by an inquiry regarding a contest involving the best designed weapon ending up in the game, and if that affected the flow of weapons already featured in it. Madureira said the team was thankful it didn’t and admitted he thought some of the weapon designs were “awesome.”
Another fan asked about possible book expansions outside of “Darksiders II.” Madureira didn’t elaborate on future projects, but did state Random House is working on a novel series centering on the world inspired by the game. Another fan was curious which Horsemen rode which color horses, pointing out the brief ending to the original “Darksiders.” However, Madureira explained that various horse colors were dabbled with, but eventually, Despair was given the default dark color.
Death’s movement was also asked about with his weapons and armor, and Madureira explained that it does not affect his performance at all. The weapons do build stats and improvements, but Death never falters when it comes to being able to scale walls or cut enemies down to size. Madureira also confirmed that Death is unable to “parry” attacks, but he can evade and flip around an enemy quite easily. Another fan then asked where the Horsemen got their horses, and Madureira advised him to “read the comic book, man.” The crowd got a good laugh out of that.
A final question had a fan asking which version of “Darksiders II’ would be the best, and Madureira thought they would all be equally good — but still wouldn’t reveal a release date for the Wii U version.
“Darksiders II” hits stores August 14 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.