Last week, screenshots for what might be another Souls game (working title “Project Beast”) were leaked. I could almost hear the community collectively holding their breath. Fans of the FromSoftware series, myself included, are still in the dark, but luckily we have esteemed community members like EpicNameBro and VaatiVidya to light the way.
Before I present their interpretation, we have some fact-checking of our own to do. Let’s assume, for the moment, that the screenshots are real. They certainly look real, and the aesthetic resemblance to Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls is undeniable. Plus, NeoGaf user DemonNite (who’s pretty much a confirmed Sony employee) has been hinting at the title since as early as last year.
And just yesterday, in an apparent leak of Sony’s E3 conference lineup, “Project Beast” is mentioned yet again. Billed as a “spiritual successor” to Demon’s Souls, “Project Beast” is allegedly one of the titles Sony Computer Entertainment Japan will be showing at E3 this year. Which raises the question: was this the work of the same sly-yet-no-doubt-roguishly-handsome Sony employee, or just wishful thinking on our part?
I’m a little more skeptical about Sony’s supposedly leaked E3 lineup. To me it seems unlikely, preposterous even, that Sony would have two pretty major leaks in the span of one week. Of course, there’s no such thing as bad publicity: if anything, people who didn’t give a shit about E3 before might now be more inclined to tune in, just to see if the rumors pan out.
Still, the lineup itself seems almost too good to be true: 15+ titles shown at one event? That’s ambitious even by Sony’s standards! Practically speaking, a press conference like that would run upwards of 4-5 hours. Not even the most dedicated (i.e. paid) games journalist would want to sit through that. But again, let’s assume for the moment that it’s genuine.
So, while remaining cautiously optimistic, I urge you to pack up your bottomless box and prepare to board that good ol’ hype train! Our reputable conductors this evening (I’m digging my train analogy, just roll with it) are EpicNameBro (@EpicNameBro) and VaatiVidya (@VaatiVidya), whose video commentary you can view above.
“This should still be treated as a rumor at this point,” says EpicNameBro. “But there are multiple sources that have been hinting at the title for a long time. The screenshots look legit and kind of all of the pieces are falling into place.”
VaatiVidya (who, might I add, has the sexiest voice ever) is in agreement: “I think everything points toward ‘Project Beast’ being another Souls game by FromSoftware, which would make use of the Demon’s Souls IP owned by Sony”
First things first, let’s examine the facts, scarce as they may be. Fact #1, that developer FromSoftware (recently purchased by publisher Kadokawa Shoten) is teaming up with Sony Computer Entertainment Japan on the tentatively titled “Project Beast.” From this we can infer that “Project Beast,” whatever it is, will be a PS4 exclusive.
Like Demon’s Souls, if it’s a collaboration between FromSoftware and Sony, we can guarantee that it won’t see release on PC or Xbox One. I know, it’s disappointing. I don’t own a PS4 and wasn’t planning on getting one, but like EpicNameBro, “I’m the kind of lunatic to buy a system for one glorious, grossly incandescent game…” So you better fucking believe I’ll buy a PS4 if it means playing a new Souls game, and that’s precisely the point.
“Project Beast” could be a huge system seller for Sony, so they have absolutely no incentive to share their exclusive IP with the competition. Which brings us to Fact #2: the Sony-owned Demon’s Souls IP has sat unused, gathering dust, for years. In 2012, Sony president Shuhei Yoshida admitted that not growing the Demon’s Souls IP was one of the company’s “biggest mistakes.”
Why? Because spiritual successor Dark Souls and its sequel (neither of which Sony owns the rights to) have been so damn successful. Clearly, they’re not going to make the same mistake twice. According to Yoshida, “Our business is to grow our IP and we love Demon’s Souls. FromSoftware is a very important business partner….”
So how does Kadokawa Shoten fit into all of this? It’s implausible to think that they didn’t know about “Project Beast” before purchasing FromSoftware. Who knows, maybe the fact that FromSoft is already hard at work on another iteration of the popular Souls franchise is what sweetened the deal.
But moving right along, Fact #3: the lead director of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki, was conspicuously absent from the development and production of Dark Souls II. Perhaps this is because he was working on “Project Beast.” As EpicNameBro puts it:
It could easily explain Miyazaki-san’s absence in Dark Souls II. We knew he was working on another project, and this is pretty much the only candidate we have right now.
Finally, Fact #4: “Project Beast” is just a code-name, but FromSoftware has used this formula before. FromSoft’s code-named “Project Dark” would later become Dark Souls. Does that mean FromSoft’s working on a spiritual successor titled Beast Souls? Maybe, maybe not.
Now that we have the facts out of the way, let’s move on to the fun stuff: wild and rampant speculation! Why not start with what’s bound to be the most controversial? It’s hard to tell, but from the screenshots it almost looks like the player character is holding what appears to be a motherf*****g shotgun…in a Souls game?!
That was my response, too, at least initially. Guns seem decidedly inconsistent with the time period and aesthetic of Souls games. But maybe we just need to change our preconceptions. What if this Souls game were set later, say, in the 16th or 17th century?
There are literally barrels full of gunpowder that you can explode in Dark Souls II. It’s a wonder this technology hasn’t already been adapted to firearms! Perhaps, as VaatiVidya posits, “advancements in technology could have replaced advancements in soul magics.”
If handled correctly, guns could be a very interesting mechanic. As it is, most of my characters use ranged weapons in some capacity, and like VaatiVidya, “I’m keen to gun down demons in a horrific Victorian-era Souls game.” In fact, that sounds ridiculously badass.
The real question, though, is whether “Project Beast” will become Demon’s Souls II, a direct sequel to the Demon’s Souls universe, or its spiritual successor, perhaps titled Beast Souls. The evidence we have could go either way.
Both EpicNameBro and VaatiVidya comment on the potential significance of the word “Beast” in the title. It could be a reference to the primary antagonist in Demon’s Souls, the Old One, who drops the Beast’s Demon’s Soul when killed. Or it could refer to the Talisman of Beasts, an item in the game whose description reveals important lore: “The symbol of God was nothing more than the Image of the Old One.”
These screenshots have raised a number of interesting questions, and I doubt we’ll get any answers until E3 (if then). That said, I’ve no doubt that whatever “Project Beast” is, it’ll kick ass. EpicNameBro concludes:
Between Kadokawa and Sony being mixed up in this, this title will not lack for a budget. And if Miyazaki is at the helm I think we can rest easy in terms of lore and setting and, frankly, difficulty.
So which would you prefer, Demon’s Souls II or a different Souls game altogether (for the love of Umbasa I hope they don’t call it Beast Souls)? While I’d love to revisit the lore and setting of Demon’s Souls (arguably the best in the series), it would be just as fun, if not more so, to explore a whole new (yet familiar) universe.