About one thousand years ago, in 2007, a friend showed me a trailer for a video game called Heavenly Sword. At this time, the PS3 was less than a year old and while I had one, I mostly used it for playing a game called LocoRoco, or a PS2 game called Drakengard, for which I still possessed an inexplicable affection four years after its release. Below, the trailer for the first PS3 title I was really looking forward to:
If you were a Playstation gamer back in ’07, you probably saw some version of it. I was so excited for the PS3 to start building a library of quality titles. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (which I planned to play, but didn’t get around to for two years) was to be released about two months after Heavenly Sword. I filled most of that gap by playing Everyday Shooter (which, go play if you own a PS3 and haven’t already) instead of doing my homework.
Heavenly Sword tells the story of a warrior woman named Nariko, born in the year of a prophesied male hero who wields the Heavenly Sword and becomes a savior. Her clan takes her gender as a sign of impending calamity. She fights the evil King Bohan to prevent the destruction of her clan, despite the price for wielding so powerful a weapon: her life. The game was rather short, but had an impressive attention to detail as well as a combat system so versatile and engaging that the game was dubbed “Goddess of War,” in comparison to the popular God of War titles.
Looking back, however, the game shines most brightly not in its combat system, but in its art direction, storytelling, and character design. The seventh generation of gaming consoles offered developers the potential to more fully realize facial details and emotions. Much like the acting in a play, expression and physicality are important in telling a convincing story. For a long time, gamers didn’t have access to that kind of detail and so, lived without it. Heavenly Sword was part of a generation of games that would change that. The devs do a better job of explaining than I do, so please check that out here.
So the reveal that I’ve been warming up to is this: in the absence of a much desired sequel game, Blockade Entertainment will be making a CGI film which will likely tell the story described in the video game. It seems fitting that one of the first truly cinematic games, compelling and widely popular, should have its own movie. In fact, it seemed inevitable, so much of the groundwork for such a film having already been laid. Here’s a first look trailer:
More information will be released as time goes on, I’m sure, since we’ve been left with a number of black boxes on this new film. Chief among those being the apparent absence of Andy Serkis, the motion capture genius who did much of the work for the first game, and whom you may know from his mo-cap work as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films. As Kotaku notes, this is hopefully a sign that he’s working on Heavenly Sword 2: The Swordening, or something like that. If you’d like to see what kind of material the films creators will be working with, check out the animated shorts that served as prologue and publicity tool for the game, enshrined in this Youtube channel.