I've only spent a combined 10 minutes with ZombiU, and I remember struggling against the controls a little, so it's great to hear that the slow pacing of the game was an actual deliberate design choice, and it's also great to hear that the team took a lot of inspiration from one of the best games released in the last five years: Dark Souls.
In an interview with EL33TONLINE ZombiU’s Associate Producer Nicolas Robin and Lead Content Designer Mounir Radi discussed multiple different design elements of the game.
"Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls inspired our online features and yes, it inspired us more in terms of making the challenge demanding – difficult but fair," said Robin. "And at the end when you achieve the thing you say, “Whew!” This feeling in videogames that we used to have when we were young.
"In modern videogames we have cool emotions also but we kind of miss sometimes the emotion of, “Okay, I tried many times, it was difficult, but I have a really good memory of that moment that I will tell to the other ones and share with the other ones”, and that’s really what we wanted to communicate with the game."
The interview also covers the deliberate pacing of ZombiU, something that initially confused me during my own hands on time with the game. According to both designers, ZombiU was initially a fast paced game — the team slowed the pace down in order to integrate the Wii U's GamePad more fully, and make it easier to switch between the action on TV and the gameplay elements on the GamePad.
It makes a lot of sense, as does the Dark Souls comparison. The first time I played Dark Souls I hated it. I couldn't understand why it was so sluggish, why the controls felt unresponsive. It was only after completely engaging with the game that it all clicked into place. Hopefully, ZombiU can provide a similar experience.