Hidetaka Miyazaki has good news for those who loved Demon's Souls. Specifically, for those who loved the game's unashamedly hardcore tone and rock-hard difficulty level.
"Dark Souls will not be any easier at all," he says, speaking via a translator at Namco Bandai's Ignite event. "We will continue to make the game difficult enough for players to enjoy. Hopefully we will live up to the hardcore fans' expectations."
There's bad news, though, for those who found Miyazaki's original offering so rock-hard they're still struggling to complete it.
"This game will actually be more difficult," he says. "We plan to continue to challenge players and make the game even harder.
"The base concepts underlying this game – the rewards, the satisfaction you get from being able to conquer the difficulty – are big themes. In order to give players a bigger sense of achievement and satisfaction I simply have to make this game more difficult, compared to Demon's Souls."
It makes a change to hear a developer talking about how their new game will give fans more of what they're used to, rather than how it will reboot the series or redefine the genre or raise the bar so high it pushes the envelope to the next level.
But that seems to be Miyazaki's style. Speaking at the press conference held the day before our interview, he looked proud to proclaim that this new game is being developed by the same team as Demon's Souls, and that it's based around similar concepts.
Like its predecessor, Dark Souls is a third-person action RPG set in a gloomy, oppressive world. Just as there are no plans to dumb down, there are no plans to lighten up.
"Visually, the concept of a cold, dark atmosphere hasn't changed," Miyazaki explains. "We are trying to expand the variation of environments we present. But we are also trying to keep this sense of coldness amongst all of them."
No secret unlockable Hello Kitty-themed levels, then? "Haha! Actually, I feel that a lot of my monsters are pretty cute... It's a different type of cute, but still..."
Miyazaki showed off several of these new environments during the press conference. They included the moss-covered ruins of a vast castle, complete with a seemingly endless series of stone courtyards, cobbled passageways, looming archways and winding staircases.
This level was a great illustration of how gloomy doesn't have to mean ugly; one particular highlight was a far-off vista of ominous clouds, through which were streaming shafts of golden light.
Next up was a dark forest lit with murky greens and moody blues. Running around it was a mascot character known as the Onionite, wearing a barrel-like suit of curved and sculpted armour - imagine the Michelin man made out of stainless steel.
Inside the armour, Miyazaki said, was a beautiful female character similar to Metroid's Samus. But we didn't get to see her during the demo, and he hasn't decided whether we'll get to do so in the finished game.
The action then shifted to a level described by Miyazaki as "a kind of underground hell". Across a lake of molten lava stood a collection of towering structures reminiscent of South East Asian temples. Behind them, a wall of layered red rock curved upwards into infinity. The character in this scenario was wearing an outfit apparently inspired by samurais, complete with face grill and giant katana.
"This map is extremely dangerous. You get burned if you step on the lava," said Miyazaki. Seeing as the entire ground beyond the spot our man was stood on appeared to be made of said lava, it was hard to see how he was supposed to progress.
We didn't get to find out. "There are a few bugs, so from a developer standpoint it's also very dangerous," said Miyazaki, swiftly moving on to another level.
This one, titled Trap Road, was set in another huge castle, but it had been constructed more recently judging by the glowing stonework and shiny portcullises. Inside it was full of the kind of booby traps and dangerous obstacles Lara Croft lives for.
The set-piece on show took place in a large stone chamber. A narrow stone walkway ran down the middle with perilously long drops visible on either side. Giant scythes swung like pendulums from the ceiling, right across the path of the walkway. The objective, of course, was to make it to the other end of the room without being sliced or shoved into oblivion.
"One of my favourite things to do is to create situations where the player sort of has no chance," said Miyazaki. He then neatly demonstrated his own point by mistiming a dash past one of the scythes and plunging into the abyss.
Of course, these environments aren't just populated by oversized farming implements. There's a wide variety of super-hard – or as Miyazaki would have it, cute – monsters to batter. Though it's more likely they'll be battering you most of the time, and it's worth noting Miyazaki's definition of cute seems to be giant mutant rats and axe-wielding two-legged snake people.
During the press conference Miyazaki also introduced us to what he described as a "mid-boss" – a troll-like creature boasting huge horns, a lumbering gait and an enormously powerful club. His towering stature and immense power suggested he'd probably be known as a plain old "boss" in most other games.
Miyazaki used this part of the presentation to demonstrate weapon switching in Dark Souls. He swapped the playable character's longsword for a great sword picked up earlier in the level, and explained how you can not only swap weapons but equip one in each hand.
According to Miyazaki there are over a hundred types of weapon in the game, each one complete with different specs and capabilities. It's all about "highly strategic tactical swordplay", apparently – learning what each weapon can do, then using this knowledge to develop your own unique plans of attack.
However, he explains during our interview, there's actually less of an emphasis on combat in Dark Souls than there was in the previous game. "There are several concepts at work. There's roleplaying, there's the action swordplay and there's the exploration," Miyazaki says.
"Demon's Souls was leaning more towards the swordplay, but now we're putting a little bit more weight on the exploration. It's about allowing the player to experience discovery."
This shift in focus isn't the only element set to change for this semi-sequel, despite all the similarities with Demon's Souls. "One of the big conceptual differences is seamlessness," says Miyazaki. Put simply, "We've attached all the environments together."
No loading times, then? "No. In Demon's Souls, the design was based around individual levels so exploration was only within particular environments. Now we're allowing users to explore the entire world, without interruption. That's an important step up for Dark Souls."
Important perhaps, but it's a step which once again represents an enhancement of the existing experience rather than a radical departure. In fact, the biggest differentiator between Demon's and Dark Souls revealed so far seems to be that ramped up difficulty level.
The problem is, if this already tough game gets any tougher, won't it become inaccessible to all but the most dedicated of players?
No, promises Miyazaki. "We want to make the game more difficult, but at the same time the game has to be completable and accessible. We'll provide higher achievements, but players have to be able to reach those higher achievements. The entire balance will be stepped up.
"The analogy I constantly use is, if we compare it to food, we're trying to create something that's very spicy – as spicy as possible – but edible. It has to taste good so people will continue coming back to it, eat more, and really enjoy it."
A bit like a vindaloo, then? As in, you have to be pretty hardcore to consume it, but it's not as hot as a faal, and won't actually kill you?