Phantom Blade 0 made quite an impression at PlayStation Showcase with a trailer that seemed tailor-made to grab the attention of Sekiro fans. Now we’re starting to get a bit more information about the game, which has its roots in a very small-scale standalone JRPG series.
“Soulframe” Liang, founder of developer S-Game, explains on the PlayStation Blog that Phantom Blade 0 has its roots in RPG Maker. It is an inexpensive tool that allows aspiring indie developers to create their own games in the classic JRPG style, and has powered countless games from a dedicated community. Liang’s 2010 RPG Maker project Rainblood: Town of Death kicked off the series that would eventually become known as Phantom Blade.
Rainblood (or Phantom Blade) was made into a series in its native China, but only a few entries were translated into English. The original Town of Death RPG was a $7 direct download release that you can still get from GamersGate. A side-scrolling spinoff, Rainblood Chronicles: Mirage, is available on Steam for $5, and the similar Phantom Blade: Executioners is slated for a future release on Valve’s platform.
The one thing all of these games, including Phantom Blade 0, have in common is that they are visually striking games that are heavily influenced by the Chinese wuxia fantasy genre. (If you’re not familiar with wuxia, just think ‘something like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’.) Liang describes Phantom Blade 0 as “the game we’ve always wanted to make” and serves as a “spiritual revival of the original game.” Rainblood.” 13 years from an RPG Maker title to a great AAA PS5 game is quite an impressive turnaround.
Liang describes this as a “semi-open world” game with multiple hand-crafted maps to explore. The team tried to strike a balance between the fast-paced action of games like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden with the slower, more strategic gameplay of Soulslike. “Luckily for us, during our decade of making mobile games, we learned to keep things simple in favor of touch screens, giving players a way to execute elaborate chains of moves with a minimal amount of button pressing. As it turns out, With a few tweaks, this mechanism works just as well on controllers.”
Phantom Blade 0 also goes for kung-fu authenticity thanks to action director Kenji Tanigaki, a prolific director of kung-fu action in movies. Tanigaki recorded movements on a “camera matrix” for developer reference, but more importantly, this was not a traditional motion capture sequence: the animators are taking that reference material and creating the in-game movies entirely by hand. , “because motion capture may not do it justice.”
I thought the PlayStation Showcase trailer for Phantom Blade 0 looked great, but after learning all of this, I am now completely fascinated with this game. Developer S-Game has a lot to prove in his ability to create a deep and satisfying console action game, but I’m looking forward to the results.
Phantom Blade 0 could be the post-Elden Ring tonic we all need.