Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 1
Image: Push Square

PlayStation fans have been frustrated by Sony’s seeming overemphasis on live service game development behind-the-scenes, but that makes Stellar Blade a real breath of fresh air. A staunchly single player PS5 character action title, it marks Korean developer Shift Up’s first foray into the world of consoles – and it’s generating an enormous amount of enthusiasm due to its dazzling visuals and throwback vibes. We caught up with Game Director Hyung-Tae Kim and Technical Director Dong-Gi Lee to learn a little more about the upcoming outing, due out on 26th April.

Project Eve was first announced for PS4 almost five years ago. Can you talk a little bit about how the project has changed and evolved since then?

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Hyung-Tae Kim: In the beginning the platform wasn’t completely decided, but we had the idea that we wanted to create a single player action-adventure game. Once we’d completed our playable prototype, Sony came into the picture.

Since then, we wanted users to have a next-generation gaming experience, so we shifted development to the PS5. We changed the title from Project EVE to Stellar Blade, and with Sony’s help, we’ve now completed the game.

Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 2
Image: Shift Up

Can you explain what makes Stellar Blade’s combat system unique compared to other character action games on PS5?

Kim: Battles occur with an attractive female protagonist who uses a blade. We put practically everything you can do with a blade into the game. You get to use different combos and skills, but that doesn’t mean you can just thoughtlessly use them. Instead, you need to learn the patterns of the monsters and think about how you want to attack. It’s a bit of a back-and-forth between you and the enemies.

In addition to the melee combat, there’s a third-person shooter mode where you get to experience ranged combat, and also you get to use items. So, it’s blade-centric, but you’ll experience all different kinds of action throughout.

Notably, there are different support features that will make the game accessible to those who aren’t as familiar with action games, so you can still experience it.

Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 3

Eve appears to have lots of different outfits and hairstyles in the trailer. How important is character customisation in Stellar Blade? Approximately how many options will players have in the final game?

Kim: There are about 30 different outfits available in the game, and they’re all acquirable through gameplay. So, you can explore, go on a quest, or go to the in-game shop to purchase them. You can enjoy that collecting element of the game.

Also, by going on quests you get to unlock hairstyles, so you can customise different looks. And there are other accessories like earrings and glasses. But the important part is that these are all acquirable in-game without any additional purchases.

Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 4

The latest gameplay overview trailer showcased the English dub, but will it be possible to select Korean or Japanese voices with subtitles in the Western version of the game?

Kim: The game offers a total of 22 different languages, and nine voiceover dubbings. The user can freely select from these options. But we do have to tell you that the Japanese voices will only be available in Japan. The Japanese text will be available, but it’s the voiceover that won’t be. This is due to the voice actors, as they’ll only be available in the Japanese region. But Korean will be available

Dong-Gi Lee: English, Japanese, and Korean all have lip synced animations, so the users will get to experience more natural voiceovers.

Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 5
Image: Shin Jae-eun

A fan account last year claimed Eve’s character is based on Korean model Shin Jae-eun. Are you able to confirm that’s the case? If so, why did you select her as the face of Eve?

Kim: Yes, we did base the character of Eve on the model Shin Jae-eun. We thought that her body shape would be a good reference for the character that we were pursuing. But the face was created originally in-house – it’s just the body of the model that we scanned for the game.

Of course, it depends on how you define beautiful bodies, but for us we wanted to come up with the most attractive looking body for the user, so this is why we made the decision to work with her.

Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 6

Music seems really important to Stellar Blade. Can you talk about how you decided on the songs and what we can expect from the soundtrack?

Kim: The music is an important element in the game that really portrays the world view of Stellar Blade. We have about 100 tracks on the soundtrack, and most songs have a kind of chorus or some kind of human voice in them.

Around 60 per cent of the songs were created in-house, while the other 40 per cent were created by a sound studio called Monaca, led by composer Keiichi Okabe. Okabe-san was the composer of NieR.

Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 7

Shift Up is best known for NIKKE: Goddess of Victory on mobile. Will there be any crossover between the games fans can look forward to?

Kim: Yes, of course, if that’s what the users want then we can do anything that will please them. We’re currently just discussing how we can do this in order to maximise the attractiveness of the event. We’re also considering how we can maximise the synergy between the two titles.

Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 9

Stellar Blade feels like a big moment for Korean games on console. How are you dealing with the weight of expectation?

Kim: The Korean gaming market is very mobile-centric, so everyone is developing for smartphones. We felt a single player console game with a definitive ending is still valid and still very important, so we’re hoping Stellar Blade will be a significant title that will encourage other Korean developers to see this as a starting point and be inspired for future projects.

It’s not an easy path we took, but we decided to take on the challenge and we hope the users enjoy it.

Interview: Shift Up on PS5's Highly Promising Stellar Blade 8

Thank you so much for your time. As we’re big fans of NIKKE, it was very cool to do this.

Kim: Thank you so much! We’ll work hard to come up with more attractive, diverse gaming content.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and readability. We’d like to thank Sony and Shift Up for organising this interview, and both Kim and Lee for setting aside time to answer our questions. Are you looking forward to Stellar Blade? Cut through the crap in the comments section below.