Yesterday’s PlayStation Showcase revealed a handful of games, but one new title proved especially intriguing. Phantom Blade Zero, an action RPG, took many by surprise with its haunting samurai world.
I must admit, when the trailer first began, I wondered if we were getting Bloodborne 2. I’d say my hopes were dashed, except Phantom Blade Zero looks quite promising. The dismal and rain-soaked landscape of the game evokes Yarnham, but the S-Game developed title seems to carve its own path with its fast-paced samurai sword-fights.
In actuality, Soulslike games prove just a small portion of the inspirations behind Phantom Blade Zero. First, check out the trailer for yourself to see what influences you can find:
The announcement trailer introduces players to Phantom World. The universe of Phantom Blade Zero contains everything from Chinese Kung fu to steampunk-inspired machines. The trailer also teases a bit of the story, introducing Soul, an elite assassin. Framed for the murder of the leader of a powerful organization, Soul has just 66 days to hunt down the true culprit. Why 66 days? That’s as long as the mystical cure he’s given for his wounds will last. Better hunt fast.
Exploring the semi-open world, players take on challenging enemies in their quest. These beings drop typical rewards including weapons and armor, but may also grant new skills. And to fight these entities, players will have to fight fast. In a PlayStation Blog post, S-Game founder Soulframe Liang explains how the combat draws from 1990s Kungfu movies. Liang also shares other wells of inspiration:
From Louis Cha’s Wuxia stories to Bruce Lee’s movies, and Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once, and Donnie Yen in John Wick: Chapter 4, Kungfu in pop culture is constantly evolving, but always awesome! With Phantom Blade Zero, we are adding a new twist to the formula, a heavy dose of punk spirit, alongside with stylish visuals. We call this overall art direction “Kungfupunk”.
In fact, Liang drew so much inspiration from Kung fu that the creator brought aboard Kenji Tanigaki. The stunt coordinator and director has had a prolific career. Tanigaki’s resume includes everything from serving as the stunt coordinator on Snake Eyes to doing stunts for Blade II. And for Phantom Blade Zero, the seasoned coordinator serves as the action director.
In fact, combat in the game proves so fast-paced that it’s not made by motion-capture. Instead, the developers used handcrafted animation to recreate Tanigaki’s moves. Kungfupunk, indeed.
A release date has yet to get announced. But the game will bring its fast-as-lightning combat to PlayStation 5. In the meanwhile, anyone thinking of marathoning some Kung fu movies?