Afro Samurai 2, the sequel to the 2009 game loosely based on the comic and anime series of the same name, will focus on a much darker, complicated story than its predecessor, according to Redacted Studios president David Robinson.
Robinson, who led development on the original Afro Samurai, told Polygon where the original game was about Afro's quest to avenge his father's death, Afro Samurai 2 is about much more than revenge.
"Kuma is an older brother to Afro, and in our story we tell the tale of: What if your younger brother led to the death of your entire family, including your little sister?" Robinson said. "That's a little different to seeing your dad killed and wanting revenge. That's a little deeper of a butt kicking. That's a 'He can't die quickly, he must die slowly' situation."
Where the first Afro Samurai told the story from Afro's perspective, Afro Samurai 2 will be told from Kuma's perspective, although players will be able to assume the role of other characters during the game. The sequel will recount the events of the first game, giving players an understanding of the relationship between Afro and Kuma, as well as the significance of Kuma's sister, who Robinson describes as the love of Kuma's life.
"Kuma has to deal with two things," Robinson said. "He has to reconcile that everyone he loves is dead, except for Afro. He is also undead and can't ascend to heaven, which is a worse torment, because it means he can never be with the people he loves again, period. That's important in the game's flow."
To make the complex story more accessible, the game will have one button to interact, but Robinson was quick to explain that this does not mean players can button-mash their way through the game. Instead, it means players will have to be more careful and considered in their approach to Afro 2. In any case, most of the game will focus on puzzles, with combat scattered throughout to punctuate certain moments.
"[The first game] was made for the Soul Calibur people — we thought it had to be complex or people wouldn't be interested, and it was my mistake for doing that, for not realizing that you don't get kicked out of a movie for not understanding it halfway through," he said. "This journey is a lot more complex, so everyone has to be able to get on that bus and stay on for as long as they're interested."
Afro Samurai 2 is due to launch sometime this year. It will be digitally-distributed, which means the developers will be able to push out updates as needed and respond quickly to player feedback.
"Before, games were like a freight train," Robinson said, describing the first Afro Samurai, which shipped with problems the developer wasn't able to fix because of the way publishing agreements were structured. "All 200 cars had to ship at once. Now, the promise is if the 72 cars are off the track, we stop and we let the game mature the way it needs to."