The one and only King Kong has long been one of the most iconic characters and properties in the history of entertainment media, so when GameMill Entertainment and developer IganuaBee announced Skull Island: Rise of Kong, it was no surprise that a fair few heads were turned. Promising an accessible action game that lets players experience the journey of Kong as he grows into the king of Skull Island, Rise of Kong certainly has an intriguing premise, to say the very least, and what we’ve learned of it so far has definitely piqued our curiosity. And Skull Island creator Joe DeVito being involved in the project has only made us that much more interested.
To learn more about the game and what we can expect from its combat, exploration, story, and more, we recently reached out to its developers with a few of our questions. Below, you can read our interview with IganuaBee’s Guillermo Gomez Zará, who’s the lead game designer on Skull Island: Rise of Kong.
"Our game was a collaboration with the author and creator of the lore of Skull Island, Joe DeVito. With his vision and approval, we have adapted the origin story based on Merian C. Cooper’s original King Kong and DeVito’s Skull Island universe – from the art concepts, storytelling and much more to create various environments, enemies, and story that the player will experience in this installment."
What can you tell us about how Skull Island: Rise of Kong will leverage the rich history and lore of King Kong and Skull Island?
Our game was a collaboration with the author and creator of the lore of Skull Island, Joe DeVito. With his vision and approval, we have adapted the origin story based on Merian C. Cooper’s original King Kong and DeVito’s Skull Island universe – from the art concepts, storytelling and much more to create various environments, enemies, and story that the player will experience in this installment.
The game follows Kong from his childhood through his rise to become King. We experience every stage of his growth and participate in his development, which takes place in iconic and unique locations on Skull Island. For example, there will be sections of the game where the flora and fauna of Skull Island has been altered by skullite, an unusual mineral unique to DeVito’s Skull Island. Its effects on the island’s entire biosphere – including Kong himself – are unpredictable! Additionally, the player will be able to explore, fight and gather different collectibles, creating an expanded, more immersive experience into Skull Island and its lore. This game has been built for all fans of Cooper’s original King Kong and those who want to explore the mysteries and wonders of Skull Island.
It seems like combat is going to be a core component of Skull Island: Rise of Kong. Can you tell us about what sort of an experience the game is looking to deliver in that area? What sort of a balance is it striking between empowering players while still providing a challenge?
Our goal is a simple, accessible, and fun game for all players to experience how Kong battled his way to become a King. We have a very easy to learn system of combos and skills that will make the player feel like the great Kong in this dangerous island.
Players will have a skill tree where they will be able to improve their skills according to different variables, adapting it to the combat style they like the most. All this structure was designed echoing and reminding one of the designs of some of the most classic hack ‘n slash games. This will offer a variety of ways for Kong to fight, allowing for a lot of replayability. The challenge will come in how the players use their different skills to defeat a wide array of enemies in their respective hordes and dangerous combat zones. We want it to be an entertaining experience above all.
King Kong has always been associated with scale, so what should players expect from the game on that front, especially where its boss fights and set piece moments are concerned?
In Skull Island: Rise of Kong, we want the player to feel like a giant creature inside this island. Throughout the levels, the player will see how Kong grows, both in size and in ability, to face all the dangers that lurk around him. But his appearance will be more imposing against the island’s bosses, which will pose him a challenging fight in both size and skill. It is important to remind fans that the Kong in our game is based on the works of Cooper and DeVito. Kong’s height will grow to approximately 30 ft tall.
"Our goal is a simple, accessible, and fun game for all players to experience how Kong battled his way to become a King. We have a very easy to learn system of combos and skills that will make the player feel like the great Kong in this dangerous island."
What should players expect from the variety of enemies and bosses Kong will be locking horns with in the game?
In our game, we tried to generate a diverse fauna of enemies that adhere to its different biomes. Each adversary has its respective behaviors and attacks that will test the player. Players will see some new enemy designs that have never been seen before. Some examples include giant sand worms, colossal crabs, and deadly spiders. Most dangerous of all the monstrous Gaw, queen of a dinosaur subspecies called Deathrunners–forward evolved super saurians. These sentient terrors will stalk and surprise the player out of nowhere and are among the creatures that are waiting for you to discover and fight.
What can you tell us about the set of abilities players will have access to in the game and how much variety they’ll offer? Will abilities apply only to combat, or will some of them also be traversal- or exploration-focused?
The skills we have given the player have multiple uses throughout the game. The basis of the different skills is to give the player more tools to survive and fight against the diversity of enemies on the island. In combat, Kong will have a repertoire of basic skills to be able to battle and defeat every type of adversary, as well as navigation and movement skills. In addition, he will also have special abilities that expand these edges including a terrifying roar that can stun enemies in their place.
On the other hand, some skills may be utilized to unlock new paths and areas throughout the game, expanding the exploration of the different levels we have created. This is either by using the strength of his fists or jumping great distances. As has already been mentioned, the player will also be able to improve these abilities by expanding the unique characteristics of each of them. This provides the player with a wider set of tools for combat, as well as for the continued investigation of Skull Island.
Given that Skull Island: Rise of Kong will see players experiencing the journey of Kong as he goes from orphan to king of the island, how will the game tackle its progression mechanics to ensure players feel that power curve? And on a more visual level, what sort of changes can we expect to see Kong go through throughout the story?
The progression mechanics of our game are focused on exploration and fighting opponents. To earn experience points, you must complete special events. These events will be encountered along the way and will test you against hordes of enemies as well as the use of your special abilities. At the same time, boss fights in each level will give you new abilities and also more experience points. During the game you will see how Kong will grow physically, in size, but also gaining scars among other visual aspects.
"Each adversary has its respective behaviors and attacks that will test the player. Players will see some new enemy designs that have never been seen before."
How much of an emphasis will Skull Island: Rise of Kong place on exploration? What approach does the game take with the design of its levels and environments, in terms of how large and varied they will be?
As mentioned above, the DNA of our game is the combination of combat and discovery of the island’s secrets. The player will have interesting places to traverse as paths to new levels using their special skills. Our levels have been designed both to immerse the player in Skull Island and its mysteries as well as to have different challenging spaces whether it is mobility, combat or the special events, in conjunction with the boss areas. These maps are quite large and have many secrets to be discovered. Along with that, within Kong’s base abilities you will be able to use a special ability to help you find places of interest, collectibles and more.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of Skull Island: Rise of Kong be?
Our game was designed to last about 5-6 hours. It might vary depending if the player is hardcore, casual or a collector (in such case it might be even longer). There is an experience to be had by every kind of gamer and we hope they enjoy it from start to finish.