In September, Santa Monica-based game development company The Initiative announced that it would partner with studio Crystal Dynamics to create the upcoming Perfect Dark title, which will be released as an Xbox Exclusive. In a Twitter thread about the partnership, The Initiative shared that though the project was still early in development, both teams were excited for the upcoming collaboration. Perfect Dark will be the first game published under The Initiative’s name.
The Game Awards Announcement
The Initiative first announced the new Perfect Dark title during the 2020 Game Awards last year, through a cinematic trailer that revealed the game’s near-future setting. Though the trailer revealed no gameplay footage, The Initiative also released an extended video featuring commentary from the game’s developers. According to Dan Neuberger, the game aims to capture the blockbuster secret agent vision with an “eco sci-fi” style.
Rumors of a new Perfect Dark title were already circulating prior to the Game Awards announcement. In June 2020, fans noticed a Twitter account in the game’s name that appeared to be attributed to a Microsoft email address and speculated its connection to a possible future release. However, Xbox was quick to shut down fan theories surrounding the account.
Breaking a 15-year hiatus
British video game developer Rare launched the original Perfect Dark in 2000 for the Nintendo 64, despite the gaming industry’s shift to 128-bit machines pushed by Sega’s Dreamcast and Sony’s PlayStation. In 2002, Rare was acquired by Microsoft to become a first-party developer for Microsoft’s original Xbox console. Rare then released a prequel game titled Perfect Dark Zero alongside Microsoft’s new Xbox 360. Though Rare released a remastered version of the N64 game in 2010, no new titles were released since the sci-fi video game series’ launch in 2005.
From the creators of Tomb Raider
Crystal Dynamics was formerly led by The Initiative’s current studio head, Darrell Gallagher. The studio is best known for developing the Tomb Raider franchise for the modern era. Though Foxy Games notes that Tomb Raider was first developed by Core Design, the IP was handed to Crystal Dynamics when Core Design’s Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness received an overwhelmingly negative response from critics. Crystal Dynamics took control of the franchise starting with 2006’s Tomb Raider: Legend, then went on to release a total of six other titles, selling an approximate lifetime total of 82 million copies.
The partnership may be an attempt to fill the hole left by video game’s design director Drew Murray, who announced his departure from The Initiative last February. In a Twitter thread, Murray explained that the decision to step down from the role stemmed from a shift in priorities, as aspects of his life outside work needed more attention. Murray also previously served as lead designer and made an appearance in the game’s video reveal to discuss the studio’s goals for the new title.
Murray’s departure, and the lack of fanfare involved in The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics’ partnership announcement, left many fans worried about the state of the development of the Perfect Dark. The Initiative has yet to announce a target release date, but nevertheless, more details about the game should still arrive in the future.