The 4th April 2019 issue of Famitsu includes an interview with From Software’s Miyazaki Hidetaka regarding Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, in which he discusses his vision for the game, and how it was conceived.
— ファミ通.com (@famitsu) 2019年3月19日
The interview begins with Miyazaki saying that development on Sekiro went well, with the game being completed with no major changes made to the what they had planned at the beginning. He also says that the collaboration with Activision went well, with Activision respecting From Software’s vision and leaving the final decisions all to them, while supporting them in various ways, such as through playtesting and presenting them with proposals based on thorough analysis of data, which allowed for constructive discussions, and that Activision was particularly helpful with the opening parts of the game and the implementation of onboarding, which he says From is not good at.
The interviewer points out how Sekiro’s protagonist is, unlike many previous games, a more empathetic and human character. Miyazaki says that they figured that they ought to do this since the protagonist was a fixed character, but that he ended up the sort of person who does not speak much due to them not wanting to sacrifice the tempo of the action gameplay. He also says that the protagonist’s growth and change is one of the story’s themes, and he is both looking forward to and afraid of what players will think of it.
Sekiro’s plot was written by Miyazaki, but the actual script for the game was handled by someone else, with Miyazaki overseeing and writing select parts, namely the opening sequence and cutscenes, and a few unimportant NPCs. He says that the NPCs in question ended up particularly distinct, and that people might be able to figure out who they are.
Miyazaki is asked if writing a plot somewhat based on history (Japan’s Sengoku era) is any different from writing one that is purely high fantasy (the Dark Souls series), and he says that there was not much of a difference. He says that though Sekiro is set at the end of the Sengoku era, this is only a point of reference for the atmosphere, or a starting point, and ultimately the world greatly deviates from there. He says that having a fixed protagonist had more of an influence on the plot than the setting.
The interviewer asks if Activision had any influence on the plot, and Miyazaki says that he received feedback from them which had many good points, and he made adjustments accordingly. He did not make any concessions where he felt that he should not, however, and Activision liked the themes and story, so there was very little friction between the two parties.
It is next asked if From Software had overseen the English translation of the game, with the interviewer stating that they had been surprised at how the boss Maboroshi O-Chou (Phantom Butterfly) had her name translated to “Lady Butterfly” in the English version. Miyazaki says that they left everything regarding the English text to Activision. Seemingly hearing about “Lady Butterfly” for the first time, he laughs and says it is interesting and odd from a Japanese point of view, wondering what happened to the “Phantom”, but says that as Sekiro’s world is one that prioritises showmanship, this oddness may not be entirely out of place. He also says that From Software tends to give characters odd names to begin with.
How the narrative involving parts of the past being told in parts before being assembled to form a whole is something that was also done in the Dark Souls series is brought up, and Miyazaki is asked if this is a narrative technique that he likes. He denies this, and says that he employs this technique because the order of information that should be presented to the player does not always match the chronological order of information in a story, especially at the beginning of a game where they want the players to start playing the game. As such, they skip over information at this point, and present it to the player later.
Next, the interviewer says that they found the story to be easy to understand due to the fixed protagonist and the themes of his revenge and growth, and Miyazaki says that this was done consciously, as he thought that with a fixed protagonist, having the player understand the character’s motives are the best way to have them enter the game’s world.
The art design of the game is brought up next, and Miyazaki says that the art concept of Sekiro was to add bright oriental colours to a world of “withering destruction”. Wanting to use this concept was one of the reasons they gave the game a Japanese setting, and that he hopes players will be able to feel the concept for themselves with some of the memorable scenes.
How the world starts to get more “mysterious” as the story progresses is brought up too, and Miyazaki says that this is something that he likes, and that the reason he went with the Sengoku era as opposed to something like the Edo period; He feels that the Sengoku era, being the middle ages, is a time when old, mysterious things might have still remained, hiding in the corners of the world.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was released for the Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC on March 22, 2019