What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets! But not Dave Cox, oh no. The head of development at Konami EU has had far too much to say to me as of late.
As we spoke to no end about Castlevania old and new, Metroidvania successes and 3D failures, we finally made our way to the matter at hand. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. Cox and Mercury Steam's magnum opus. The drinks flowed and the laughs rolled - then before I knew it we were somehow talking about Batman:
"It's a reboot of the franchise in a different universe than what you know. It's a different take on the mythology. It's a bit like the difference between Tim Burton's and Chris Nolan's batman. It's the same character, it's the same universe, it's a work of genius - but they're both very differnt takes on it."
So I asked him the all important question. If Koji Igarashi and the Castlevania of old was Tim Burton's take on Batman?
"Then we're Chris Nolan, mate. All the way." Dave smiled wide as he said this.
"In many ways, we see Dracula as our Dark Knight. Sure, people kind of know what to expect now, but much like the new Batman films we want to sort of shatter those expecations with the next one. People are going to expect more of the same but we're not going to give them more of the same - we're going to give them something really different. Lords of Shadow one was kind of the origin of Dracula or "Dracula begins" if you like, and Lords of Shadow 2 will be the conclusion to the saga - "Dracula Rises."
But Cox also wants to ask the player, who is Dracula? He says that is the fundemental question at the heart of the Lords of Shadow series.
"Sure, he's the guy that every 100 years the belmonts fight, kill and then he comes back - but we wanted to tell his story. What are his motivations? Where's he coming from? But we also want to explore why is it the Belmonts that have to fight him? Why is it their job? Gabriel is the first Belmont, but there's a reason as to why only other Belmonts can go against him - and we'll answer those questions."
Ah yes, the Belmont clan. Confirmed so far are Trevor, Simon and most intriguing to fans, Alucard.
The beloved protagonist of both Cox and Iga's most famous work, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is finally making his grand return in Lords of Shadow 2 - but this isn't the Alucard we know. Remember, this is a new Castlevania, a new universe, and so too a new Alucard. Cox outright refused to tell me more, and the fan in me is likely thankful he did. Yet you know you want answers just as badly as I do, but luckily you can rest assured you will get those answers and more from Mirror of Fate and Lords of Shadow 2.
"I think its going to be a very interesting proposition for people. You will play as the ultimate vampire badass and it's going to be epic. Do you hear me, it's going to be fucking epic, Dave. If you like Legacy of Kain - you will love Lords of Shadow 2. You may not necessarily agree with what Dracula's doing but you'll certainly understand how he got here, and that's what we're going for."
And we too can now understand how Cox himself got here. As a man who once stood and worked beside IGA, we may not agree with the direction in which he's taken the Castlevania franchise, but we can certainly understand how he got here.
To that end I think it's become clear that while Gabriel Belmont may not be the Dracula that Castlevania needs, both he and his producer Dave Cox are definitely the one it deserves.
On a side note, when me and my buddy Chris were working up an image for this story I originally told him to make Iga into the old Batman and Cox into the new. I forgot to specify Burton and Nolan. The initial result was this:
Yes, that is Koji Igarashi as Adam West's Batman - and it's glorious.