In 2013, franchise reboot DmC: Devil May Cry, which should have been a marquee title for development studio Ninja Theory, was released to positive critical reviews and a mixed-to-positive fan reception. Despite its relative success with the press and public, however, the total number of copies of the game sold failed to meet publisher Capcom’s expectations. But that purely financial failure didn’t stop the upstart studio, who went on to develop and release Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice in 2017. Not only was that a massive critical success, but a big winner at most of the industry’s major awards shows, receiving just about as many accolades as a game theoretically could.
Ninja Theory’s newest project is Bleeding Edge, an online, team-based multiplayer game in which competition is based around unique map objectives. While that description may also accurately fit Overwatch, one of its influences, combat is fighting game-adjacent and in third person. In anticipation of the March 2020 release of Bleeding Edge, Video Games Chronicle interviewed members of the game’s development team, who explained just how they transitioned from working on DmC to their present-day indies.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Bleeding Edge are both reflective of the studio’s development philosophy, instituted after the (very relative) failure of DmC: Devil May Cry. Whereas DmC had to satisfy certain demands of a AAA release—or, put more simply, its content needed to justify a $60 price tag—with their projects since, Ninja Theory is aiming to develop “indie triple-A” games.
This means, more-or-less, indie-sized releases with AAA polish. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice by most estimates can be completed in well under 10 hours. But comparing a screenshot of Hellblade to one from the visually-similar 2018 God of War, someone with no familiarity with either game would be unable to find virtually any indicators of which was the blockbuster and which was the indie release.
Bleeding Edge will ideally play a similar role but as a multiplayer game, in an industry post-Fortnite. Whereas Hellblade is serious and contemplative, the quality at the forefront of Bleeding Edge is its capacity for fun. Its sci-fi and cyberpunk designs are cartoonish, and individual games are going to hinge on its players’ personal skills and accomplishments.
Since gameplay in Bleeding Edge is heavily reliant on its combat, those who worked on it were even able to work in their areas of expertise utilized in DmC and the studio’s earlier action games and adapt them to a more modern template. The interview also discusses the benefits of developing for a somewhat-niche audience, the unique opportunities presented by releasing on Xbox Game Pass and more. Bleeding Edge will be released on March 24 for Windows and Xbox One.
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