DokeV preview: developer talks boss fights, folk inspiration, and capturing childish wonder
Having breathed new life into MMOs with its very combative Black Desert, Pearl Abyss is a studio full of ambition. Crimson Desert, its next gritty fantasy adventure takes its genre one step further, mixing single player and multiplayer in a glorious open world. DokeV [doh-keh-vee], while another open-world multiplayer adventure, is still something very different – in this lush and vibrant future cartoon world, you play as a young child who befriends the spirits around him .
Your customizable hero becomes able to see the titular dokebi. These are based on South Korean folk creatures of the same name, cunning spirits that manifest in everyday objects, similar to Japanese yokai. Because you are able to see them, you and your friends can connect and befriend the playful creatures. However, this gift also means that you learn uncomfortable knowledge about the world you live in.
“DokeV takes place in a world where artificial intelligence technology has developed. There is a facility called ‘The Company’, which produces android robots using artificial intelligence,” says lead producer Sang Young Kim. “However, the main character sees this business more as a villain, as the technology for Android robots comes from The Company’s capture of dokebi and their insertion into AI chips.” So far we’ve seen examples of a robot going berserk on a construction site and another on a beach made of wrecks. “The main character, who finds out the truth about society’s suppression of dokebi using them as experiments, is playing a role against society by freeing dokebi from the robots,” he says.
For more reviews, previews and exclusive features, you can subscribe to Play Magazine here.
That’s a problem, because while they can be “unintentionally malicious” according to executive producer and Pearl Abyss founder Daeil Kim, dokebi are a big part of the world. “They are also the biggest supporters of people’s dreams,” Daeil Kim continues, “which empowers them and allows them to grow with the people they support. Although dokebi cannot directly exercise that power in the real world, they can use it to inspire strength and courage in people. ” While a lot of people can’t see this happening, for the kids at the heart of the story, it’s something they can interact with.
It’s these aspirations that bring the creatures of DokeV to life in the first place. “The Dokebi were born from people’s dreams. To give an example, someone dreams of becoming a boxer but is not allowed to pursue that dream. The inability to pursue the dream causes the Boxer dokebi to emerge,” explains the designer. of Changkee Nam games, presumably talking about the black and white polar bear with boxing gloves. You obviously don’t want people’s dreams to be taken away and exploited by big companies.
Unlike The Company, Pearl Abyss is keen to point out that your character does not capture any dokebi, even if the game involves collecting monsters. Instead of, “[it’s] to befriend them by fulfilling special conditions through their unique stories using information from clues about the dokebi you find all over the city and around the world, ”says Changkee Nam. “There are dokebi you can easily befriend, as well as special condition dokebi. It will be great fun for the player to meet each dokebi to engage in their unique stories. “
The way you take on quests to befriend each individual dokebi is something that sets the game apart from the competition, as well as the way you explore the large open world, which has a decidedly modern feel to it. Another distinguishing feature is the way you fight. These machines with dokebi AI won’t fall easily, and you will have to face them in a real-time action combat system where you have to get your hands dirty.
While the game does support single player play, these boss fights are one of the key times when you can team up with other players to take them out (although there is a competitive game that also hugs the virtues of sportsmanship). Using the dokebi, you can power yourself up for real-time battles. “Each dokebi has skills and special effects that the player puts to good use and allows them to have superhero powers that allow them to transform into different types of characters,” says Sang Young Kim.
How you build your character depends on the dokebi team you have on hand. Once you’ve defeated an enemy, you use a special vacuum cleaner to free the trapped dokebi from the machine. Daeil Kim describes it as a tribute to Ghostbusters (“which we loved watching,” he adds). It’s not the only everyday object with a modern supernatural touch. Your umbrella is one of the ways to move around the open world, helping you soar through the skies. Like the dokebi themselves, “when you use the umbrella, you hide your form and essentially become invisible,” shares Sang Young Kim. “I was inspired by children who hide under umbrellas while they play, thinking that no one else can see them.” Prior to directing this title, he worked as the animation and motion capture director for the studio’s previous titles.
Capturing this playful sense of movement and wonder seems to have been vital for this particular project. Sang Young Kim is partly inspired by his daughter and the things he sees on his daily trips to school. He also alludes to another detail, the “Dokebi Gamtu” (in Korean for “the dokebi hat”). In folklore, it is a hat that can make you invisible. DokeV has a distinct blend of this kind of traditional folklore and modern reality, and it’s nice to see a fascination with the natural world being celebrated. The dokebi, like their folkloric inspirations, lean on this. “We were inspired by natural phenomena in the real world that amaze people,” says Sang Young Kim. “Think of the rain starting to fall out of nowhere under clear blue skies or waterspouts. Why do these things happen? What’s going on inside the waterspout funnel? The curiosity for these kinds of phenomena is expressed in the game in a way where you might wonder if it was a dokebi doing something inside the funnel.
You will be free to take charge of your DokeV trips. The characters are customizable, just like your own bedroom. The type of dokebi you bond with affects your approach, but it also supports an open style of play across the board. You are free to explore the open world in your own way and satisfy your curiosity, accompanied by your companions.
“You can go anywhere, really. You can freely explore the world with a charming dokebi sidekick and go on some interesting adventures,” says Sang Young Kim. The environments we’ve seen are gorgeous, mixing realistic lighting effects with a cartoonish aesthetic to create a world that can feel pretty idyllic at times. “You will meet and hear the stories of different types of people, [and] help them solve their problems, ”he continues. Helping is playing mini-games etc.
The umbrella mentioned earlier is just one way to get through the great surroundings. The developers confirm that you can also move on skateboards and inline skates, and a trailer even shows a small miniature car. The world is big enough, but getting around doesn’t have to be a chore. You have the energy of a child, after all, and the excitement of the modern world to draw you in.
“Creating an open world where all the characters seemed to be living their own lives was a challenge. In the game we have highly interactive NPCs who will perform their roles while responding to player actions, including running away from the player or telling him their own stories, ”says Daeil Kim. This is far from the first open world game developed by Pearl Abyss, and DokeV is very knowledgeable about those experiences, despite the different tone and mechanics. an open world affects the actions of the player, “he continues.” As these parts become organically connected to each other, a great flow of story is created, which has been a great challenge for us. to structure them and transform them into data. It was not easy to harmonize the characters and animations in this still delicate area. vast open world. “
Ultimately, the design should capture a sense of childish wonder, where the name of the game comes from in the first place. “While I was developing the creature collection type game, I was trying to come up with a name that reminds me of my childhood,” says Daeil Kim.
It was then that he thought of the dokebi in the stories he had heard as a child. This central creature choice is a clear indication of how the studio wants this to be fundamentally different from their more mature titles. “We’ve been working on medieval fantasy games for a long time, but we wanted to try and create a unique experience with DokeV that could be enjoyed by the whole family,” he says. We’re ready to grab our umbrellas, jump on our boards and make friends.
This first appeared in Issue 6 of Play Magazine, which you can now purchase from Magazines Direct.