Interview: Jeremy Greiner, Creative Director on Darksiders II

July 30, 2012

It’s hard to find a good original IP in gaming these days, especially one which is successful enough to warrant a sequel. As publishers rely on tried-and-true franchises to ring out a few more bucks every year, it’s heartening to see success stories like Darksiders. The  original built up a rich mythos based around the end of the world, as one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, War, arrives early and apparently brings Armageddon prematurely. Oops. The end of that game promised the arrival of his brethren, and now Darksiders II is on the way with the story of Death. Jeremy Greiner was down in Australia this week to promote the upcoming game, and luckily we were able to squeeze in a few minutes with him to chat about Death, Darksiders and everything.

Rocket Chainsaw: “One of the most interesting parts of Darksiders, for me, was the mythology and this world that has been built around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. So, I’m curious as to why Death was selected to be the protagonist in this game as opposed to one of the other Horsemen, or continuing War’s journey?”

Jeremy Greiner: “Well, I guess that’s a two-part answer. The first is that we want to tell the stories of all Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, so since we already told War’s story, we had to choose another one, and who better than Death? I guess the second answer is that in the first game we were like, ‘Which one should we do – War or Death, War or Death?’ Then, since we chose War, Death was going to be the de facto choice for Darksiders II. It’s cool though, because War was a really cool character, kind of a more bulky and steadfast and straightforward guy, whereas Death is much more lean, much quicker, much more agile. Their temperaments and their personas are so different. It’s really cool, because you get to play Darksiders II and it’s the world that you know and it feels right, but it feels different. So, it feels like a true sequel, and not a 1.5.”


RC: “Playing the demo, there was a section where you come face-to-face with War for a boss fight, and it really feels like a clash of the titans, Batman vs. Superman style. I think that’s a sign that the story is working well, and I’m interested to see what you’re aiming for thematically with Darksiders II, or what the driving central theme is?”

JG: “Well, I think that in the first Darksiders, War was trying to get to the bottom of what happened. That was all about his story. Death is completely different, when you look at his temperament. He’s not one to follow the rules, or to ask questions and go by what people say. So really, he’s just trying to clear War’s name, so he’s not as concerned about finding out why, he just wants to do what it takes to erase the crime. So, in order to do that, he has to resurrect humanity. So, that’s ultimately his goal this time around.

RC: “The first game was kind of a mash-up of several influences, there’s more than a bit of Zelda and Portal here and there. What would you say is influencing development this time around, in terms of story and gameplay?”

JG: “I’d say that, in terms of the story it’s pretty collaborative. Dave Adams, at the studio, he does a lot of it. Some of the writers over at THQ contribute as well. You know, one of the challenges when you create your own IP is that you’re not in a box. There’s no rules. And you’re like, ‘This is great, we can do whatever we want!’ Then, at the end of the day you’re like, ‘Wow, this is pretty daunting. We can do whatever we want…’ So, you really have to establish rules.

In far as influences from the gaming space, I mean for sure. There are tons of different games in there, but I think every game has that. I think what you have in Darksiders II, is you have a seriously robust package that doesn’t exist elsewhere. If you look for an action adventure game that has what Darksiders has, you’re not gonna find it. With all of the RPG elements, with the loot, skill trees, the levelling and experience system, the NPC towns, the sidequesting, the vast overall system. You add that all together and it’s a pretty massive game. You know, I think Vigil prides itself on being a studio of gamers. And so, I think they pull from things from their childhood and games they loved from their past, especially as our genre gets less ‘action adventure’ and more just ‘action’ every year. You know, really set-piecey and all that. So, ultimately it’s a game made for gamers by gamers.”

RC: “You touched on the point that Darksiders is an original IP – are there any firm plans to expand the story beyond these two games?”

JG: “Oh yeah, like I mentioned earlier, we’d love to tell the story of all Four Horsemen. So that’d obviously be Darksiders III and IV whenever that comes out after. We haven’t gone into concepting on that yet or anything, our ears are just sort of pinned back to get this game [Darksiders II] to market. But yeah, you know, we’d love to do that. For the brand as well, we’d love to carry it into other mediums. We have an iOS app now, we have Dark Horse comics, we have Triforce statues and sites, so you know, we’re always looking to see what our fans want and do whatever we can to get that to them.”

Thanks to Jeremy for the interview, and thanks to THQ Australia for setting it up for us! Darksiders II will be in stores on 16 August.