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A Perfect Blend of Sword Fighting and Kung-Fu - Phantom Blade: Zero Exclusive Interview

We were lucky enough to grab an exclusive interview with Phantom Blade: Zero's game director Soulframe Liang.

Audio transcription

"Hi friends, we are in LA for the Summer Game Fest and you know, Phantom Blade Zero presented its first ever demo which, you know, people are playing in the background and we have the pleasure and the luck to be with S, Mr. S the director and founder of the studio Thank you so much for joining us What is the feedback that you're getting from the first players playing the game?
Wow, we really enjoy it, we really enjoy it After our trailer was revealed last night we were overwhelmed by all this online feedback and today we get to be here to see all this smiling face from the actual players and everyone is happy with that and even they were killed by the boss and everyone still are very happy with all these kung fu movements all the game mechanics and we feel really excited about all the feedback Let's talk about those mechanics It looks to me like a very, very fast Souls game Is that one of the main concepts that you wanted to pursue with this game?
Yeah, I wouldn't label our game as a Souls game I would say our game is a combination of two archetypes One is something from a Souls game like the map design It's a multi-layer, multi-path, three-dimensional map But other than that, our combat system is more like the old-fashioned combo-driven actions such as Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden Hack and slash Yeah, hack and slash So it's something like we put the hack and slash combat system into a Souls map So you will have the exploration part like a Souls game and have a combat part as the Ninja Gaiden hack and slash games Tell me about that combat You have, if I'm correct, two weapons you can equip and it's very focused on parry, is that correct?
It focuses on parry and combos and it's encouraged to attack, to be aggressive all the time Even though you are blocking, your movement also seems like you are attacking That's the essence from the Chinese Kung Fu system And also, you also equip two phantom edges which is the secondary weapon in our game Those parts are the creative part in our game You can use cannons, you can use bows and also the fire lion head to attack the enemy in multiple ways So it's a combination of old-school traditional blade works blade combat system and also very creative systems offered by the phantom edges You just sold me the game because I'm into Kung Fu myself Until I hurt my back, I can no longer But I love Kung Fu So what can you tell me about the more traditional aspects that you have here Like, for example, the swords I don't know if you have the Chen sword, the Tao sword Or what can you tell me about the more traditional Kung Fu things that we can see here Yeah, of course Firstly, all the movements are motion captured by real Kung Fu masters back in China We have invited, I think, a lot of top-tier Kung Fu stunts in movie industry to mo-cap for our Kung Fu movements And they also give a lot of inspirations to design all these movements in dual blades and long blades All the movements are incredible But they are real They are from real Kung Fu movements And second, I think, is the philosophy of Kung Fu One is you will move all the time You can move all the way around You can move and dodge to the enemy's back And you move like water, right?
And so that's also a very important philosophy in Kung Fu And we express that And also, the way you parry and the way you're blocking It's not like you hold a shield to block all the incoming No, it's not like that It's like, even though you're blocking, the movements also seem like you're attacking So all the movements are corresponding to the incoming attacks So you do this when people come attack from here And you parry like this way And when they attack here, you do a movement like this So all these movements are corresponding to the attacks And also the diagonals are important, I guess It's not just front and face, but also always finding the side Yeah, that's super important Let's record it You always shift the diagonal, you shift the axis You don't face to face to your enemy But you're always trying to be side to your opponents That's important in Kung Fu culture That's interesting, enough about Kung Fu, we could be talking about Kung Fu for hours Yeah, we can talk about this for the whole day Let's not talk about hours, let's talk about days What is that about the 66 days?
Okay, I don't want to spoil so much The vibe of the story is a dark and tragical story Our hero is a tragical hero with very limited days in his life for some reason So this 66 days left thing has some relationship with game mechanics But I wouldn't say here and now, I'll leave it as a secret But you can feel that if anything you do If you know you have very limited time in your life The story will be very dramatic Because every single choice, every single encounter Also the love and revenge and everything Will become so dramatic and so urgent Because you don't have so much time left You have your own business to deal with You have something left, you haven't finished something You feel very urgent, you're in a hurry to do something before you die So this will make the story tension It will build up the tension of the story Will it impact the playtime a player can put into the game?
Perhaps to see the end of the game you need to put 30 hours And then if you die before, what happens?
Because of course you have only 66 days and then you die Yeah, there are some certain mechanics here The secret again It has something relating But of course after 66 days there will be good endings There will be bad endings There will be very bad endings Like you die in the very beginning or something like that That also counts as an ending There may be some perfect endings That get you out of this But I couldn't say more It's a little bit like Zelda Majora's Mask to me There might be some way to avoid that ending I know it's a mysterious character But what can you tell me about the main character here?
The main character is a dark hero He has something dark inside him And he was the best killer in the organization But now he has rebelled from the organization So he has been chased down from his old colleagues So he's kind of like John Wick or something like that But he's hunted down from the old colleagues and also the old enemies All the parties want to kill him So he's just trying to survive and do his business before he dies Before he runs out of the 66 days What about you guys?
You look like a very young studio The project is very ambitious I have to say for a change it's good for us to see a AAA game There are fewer this year in the summer events And also a AAA game from China How do you feel about this?
The surge of AAA in China I think it's just the beginning of a trend I would say that because I know there are more to come And I think it's very good Because games are always a good bridge Because I myself have both backgrounds I grew up in China and I received my graduate education in the United States And I know both cultures And I'm always trying to take the elements from different cultures And bridge them together And to make people all over the world hyped from the style we created So I think it's a super good thing for more Chinese studios to come to the market And join the party Because before all the Chinese studios were focused on mobile games For the Chinese market But now there are more and more Chinese studios are shifting to consoles And PC games from mobile games I think it's a really good trend I think the starters are Hoyoverse They start with Genshin Impact Which has a console version But it still has a mobile version And then here comes Black Mesa Wukong He's about to come out I think that will give confidence to many other Chinese studios And we all love to try And we see how Black Mesa Wukong performs And we see also Stellar Blaze Also is from Korean studio But have the similar background Only do mobile games before But I believe that's just the beginning of a trend We love to produce more games And do the trends here And we love to join the party with all you guys It's fantastic when the industry in the West is living a rough year Lots of layoffs It's nice that there's new opportunities, new alternatives Yeah, we'd love to do that Final one You guys are releasing in 2025 Well, I wouldn't announce a release date here I would say it's under development Smoothly I just wanted to ask you about the status of the project At which point are you guys How do you feel about the current status?
Yeah, actually we're finishing our core mechanics And most of the designs are done And the storyline is more or less done But now the tough parts just begin Of course Yeah, we have to jump into the production procedures Yeah, the pipelines to do all these assets And art styles Yeah, art, modelings and everything Hopefully the production will run smoothly There you have it Mr. S talking Phantom Blade Zero Thank you so much Thank you so much Thank you"

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