Aragami was a solid tribute to the stealth-action genre, particularly influenced by games like Dishonored and Tenchu: Stealth Assassins. Playing as a resurrected warrior, Aragami focused on using the shadows--both figuratively and literally--to face off against a light-wielding army and seek vengeance against those that wronged you in your past life. A sequel, Aragami 2, has been revealed at Gamescom 2020. Coming to current-gen and PS5 and Xbox Series X in 2021, the next game aims to build upon the foundations of the original, bringing the stealth-action gameplay further into the realm of an open-ended action-RPG.
Set 100 years after the original game's ending, Aragami 2 focuses on a new assassin born from shadows, who, like their predecessor, can manipulate the darkness to strike at their foes. While the original game had a linear, narrative-based structure, the next game plans to feature open-ended levels that present you with more options in the rules of engagement. Within a new player hub, you can craft and upgrade your skills, talk with NPC characters, and set out on missions solo or in groups of three with other assassins online.
In the days leading up to the reveal, GameSpot spoke with game director David Leon about the making of Aragami 2. Following the strong response and success of the original game, the developers formulated their plans to make a sequel that not only stayed true to the stealth-action focus but also expanded upon the original in a meaningful way.
"We really didn't want just to make the same game," said Leon. "After the game launched, we worked on the Nightfall DLC for the game, and we decided that we wanted to expand the universe and story of the game. It was a bit crazy, but we had to make a new game from scratch. It's a very different kind of sequel. While it's the same world, and it's still a stealth game, so much has changed in the sense of how this character moves around the environment, the new combat mechanics, and the multiplayer. The scope is especially larger, and it's very much a different kind of beast of a game. It's somewhat of a semi-open-world structure. With that said, we're still an indie studio, and we're building in the way that feels right for us and the Aragami IP. This sequel is much closer to the vision we had in mind for the original."
While Aragami 2 still sticks close to its stealth-action roots, allowing you to stay in the shadows to teleport and conjure up shadow constructs, the sequel opens up to incorporate more of a focus on customization and combat. The original didn't feature combat in the traditional sense--when an enemy discovered you, one strike from their sword would kill the protagonist, sending you back to the previous checkpoint. While this did limit your options when confronting your enemies, it ended up highlighting the solid stealth-action dynamic of manipulating your opponents and the environment to overcome the challenges.
In the sequel, combat is now one of the core parts of the game, with players being able to strike, dodge, and use different shadow powers in engagements with foes. Citing games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Bloodborne, the game's new combat system focuses on fast reflexes and poking at the enemy's vulnerabilities to succeed in a duel. With the expanded co-op, you can bring in up to two other players to help you in the game's larger suite of levels. Co-op proved to be popular with fans of the original, and it was something the developers leaned into further with the follow-up.
"We wanted to rethink multiplayer from scratch, and we wanted to make it one of the game's main pillars," said Leon. "We looked at how people played in the original game, especially with online play, and we heard a lot of players tell us that they loved it because it was one of the few stealth-action games you could play with friends. The sequel is still a stealth game, but we've opened things up more to focus on things like action and interacting with many side-characters as you do the main story and the smaller missions in the game."
What made the original game a fun send-up to classic stealth-action games was its versatility. Aragami featured many familiar set-ups and skills for a game of its genre, including executing aerial kills and silent ranged attacks, and setting up creative distractions. Yet, it also allowed you to take an entirely non-lethal approach in its levels. Despite its linear structure, it offered many ways to experiment with your abilities, and from our talk with the developers at Lince Works, it sounds like that is something that the sequel will focus on as well.
The latest trailer revealed during Gamescom 2020 offers a solid look at what's to come with Aragami 2. From our chat with Leon, it looks like Aragami 2 is still staying true to the original game's approach to stealth--which was a product of its smaller scope--while still going for something more ambitious. The original game came from humble beginnings, and it's exciting to see that its success led to a thoughtful approach for the sequel.
For more on Aragami 2 and the other reveals from Gamescom 2020, check out our hub page for the show.