We recently got the chance to interview Ryan Payton, founder of Iron Man VR developer Camouflaj, and Brendan Murphy, Lead Writer on the project, about their unique take on telling an original Tony Stark story. Iron Man VR is a PSVR-exclusive releasing this July 3rd.
I first got the chance to play Iron Man VR right when it was originally announced almost a year and a half ago. At the time, I only got to do some practice flight in the Iron Man suit flying around Tony Stark’s mansion and then a quick mission in the sky where I defended an airplane that was about to crash. It was quick and action-packed as a good showcase of gameplay, but didn’t tell me much about what the game as a whole is actually like.
To be clear: this is not related to any active comic book storylines, although the team did look there for inspiration, nor is it connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or any other video games. Iron Man VR is, from top to bottom, a standalone title we’ve been told.
During a video chat interview last week, Payton and Murphy talked to me about what it was like to try and establish an original take on Tony Stark and Iron Man in the wake of Robert Downey Jr.’s run as one of the most globally recognized, celebrated, and adored movie franchise characters of all-time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe of films.
“Yeah, well, they certainly cast a long shadow,” admits Murphy. “…But, all the stuff about what has come before and the performances by other people before, we didn’t really concern ourselves too much with that. We use the comic books as reference and we set out to start fresh and create a new take on the character…We had talked about not wanting to tell an origin story.
“It just seemed obvious that it had been done and done well, but we still wanted to tell what felt like the essential Tony Stark story. And how do you do that with a character that’s been around since 1963 and there’s, you know, countless iterations of them? When we met with Marvel and it went well and, you know, we started to collaborate with them, the first thing they said was, ‘Yeah, please don’t make an origin story.’ They urged us to tell an original story, not just a retread of something we’ve already seen.”
Everyone knows the origin of Superman, Batman, Spider-Man given their lengthy history of feature film releases, so with the MCU still fresh in the mind of fans, a retread of Stark’s origins just isn’t needed. So, in the case of Iron Man, what does an origin story actually look like?
“Part of trying to make it a quintessential Tony Stark story, without it feeling like something that you’ve seen a bunch of times or at all, was hammering down on this theme of: Tony Stark being his own worst enemy,” says Payton. “I would say it’s probably the main theme of our game. And it’s such an essential, like Tony Stark thing to create a problem and then have to solve it basically. I would say, without spoiling anything, we kind of drove down on that theme.”
Iron Man VR is slated to release exclusively for PlayStation VR on July 3rd. Check out our Iron Man VR coverage hub here for more details on the game, our latest hands-on impressions, and more details from our interview with Ryan Payton and Brendan Murphy as new articles are published.
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