The director of upcoming action RPG Stellar Blade says that one of the game's most distinctive marketing beats exists because of the "special attention" put into the reverse side of the lead character's model.
Speaking to GamesRadar+, game director Hyung-Tae Kim (via translator) discussed the character design of protagonist Eve. That design, built around the body scan of Korean model Shin Jae-eun, has been a focus of Stellar Blade's early trailers, and while we now know much more about Eve, Kim suggests that that's deliberate.
"When it comes to the design, we put special attention on the back of the character because the player is always facing the back of the character when they're playing," he said. "That's what they see the most of, so we thought this was pretty important."
Before Stellar Blade, developer Shift Up was best known for gacha game Goddess of Victory: Nikke, which is well known for focusing on the backs of its anime characters, right up to last year's collaboration with Nier: Automata. Kim argues, however, that the studio's style is about more than pure titillation. The deliberately glamorous design of characters like Eve "has become somewhat of a brave thing to be going for or attempting," he claims.
Kim also reflects on the broader cultural situation surrounding characters like Eve, both within Korea and globally, and his own desires when it comes to the games he plays and makes: "I personally think that compared to movies, animations, manga and so on, people are especially strict towards games. In games, there's all the views that people have [which are] not always positive about unrealistically beautiful characters.
"Honestly, when I play a game I would like to see someone who is better-looking than myself. That's what I want. I don't want to see something normal; I want to see something more ideal. I think that is very important in a form of entertainment. This is, after all, entertainment targeted for adults."
As for what Kim considers to be an ideal design, he points to "someone that can show their own charms and attractiveness without damaging the narrative or the setting of the game." When pressed on who Eve is as a person, the director discussed her personality and backstory, and her journey toward humanity does remind me of Nier: Automata's 2B (who, let's not forget, had a 'destroy pants' button in a game with an achievement tied to looking up her skirt). As it happens, Kim says he's honored to see the game compared to Nier since he's a big fan of Yoko Taro.
"The character Eve, at the beginning, is not that great of an existence," Kim explains. "But as the game progresses, she takes on more and more burdens and comes to make important decisions. She gets to interact with more characters and other people, and becomes more human. In the beginning, she's more soldier-like and doesn't have that many emotions or show much expression. As the game and story progresses, you get to see the change in her emotions."
Stellar Blade is one of the biggest new games 2024 on its way out so far this year.