The latest (14th June) issue of Famitsu includes an interview with Miyazaki Hidetaka regarding From Software’s new game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, of which he is director.
— ファミ通.com (@famitsu) June 12, 2018
When asked about how work on Sekiro started, Miyazaki says that the project began in late 2015, after the Bloodborne DLC was completed. At that point, they had been thinking that they wanted to work on something that would be a new opening once Dark Souls 3 was completed, and he thinks that due to From having previously worked on Otogi, Ninja Blade and Tenchu, it was natural for one of these new things to have a Japanese setting.
The length of time since those titles were developed means that this would also be the first time many newer employees would be working on a Japanese-styled game, which would be refreshing for them. The game design began with the keywords “Japanese style” and “ninja”, and was heavily influenced by Tenchu, enough that they initially considered making it as part of that series. They ultimately decided against this as the majority of the series had been made by a different developer and contained a lot of distinct properties from its original creators, and so instead they created something new which still contains properties from Tenchu like the grappling hook and assassinations. Miyazaki also says that he was interested in the concept of ninja action to begin with, due to how its compatibility with things that he likes, like three-dimensional maps and stylish yet tense combat.
The interviewer proceeds to inquire about Activision’s involvement, and Miyazaki says that From Software is handling the main game development and sales in Japan and Asia, while Activision is handling sales in other regions and giving From advice. He also makes it clear that all decisions are ultimately made by From; Activision only gives them suggestions and feedback. He says that Activision’s biggest contributions are to ease of control and onboarding, things that From is not good at. As director, Miyazaki oversees gameplay, level design, artwork, and the world setting, just as he did with the Souls series.
When asked about the game’s title, Miyazaki says that Shadows Die Twice was originally just a catchphrase he thought up for the trailer, that the publishers for some reason really liked it and put it into the game’s title. He says that “shadows” refers to the nature of ninjas, while “die twice” is a reference to the game’s revival system and to how the players will die many times. Sekiro is short for “one-armed wolf”, a nickname for the protagonist, a one-armed wolf-like man. Miyazaki had wanted a kanji title due to it being a Japanese-style game, and was fond of both the shape and meaning of the kanji “seki” (隻, meaning one side of a pair). He was surprised that Activision also liked the title.
Next, the interviewer asks about the game’s setting. Miyazaki says that, as always, they did not define any specifics, but it is set roughly at the end of the Sengoku period (late 1500s), in a region off to the side, at somewhat high altitudes meaning it is cold. They chose between the end of the Sengoku period and the Edo period as these were the two where ninjas were the most active, and ultimately chose the former due to it being more bloody and muddy, which matches Miyazaki’s vision of ninjas more closely. Additionally, the Edo period is closer to the modern period while the Sengoku period is closer to the middle ages, where old and mysterious things might still be alive. Finally, the Sengoku period has a “nuance of destruction”, which he says is necessary for the “Japanese-style aesthetic” they wish to portray. He also says that while realism is necessary, they are not adhering to it being realistic, and that they are taking a similar approach as to the Souls series, with them reinterpreting things, and that sometimes their reinterpretations contain huge leaps.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is to be released on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC in early 2019.