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A Conversation with Josef Fares (It Takes Two, A Way Out)


Minutes before speaking to Josef Fares, I was listening to "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen so I could keep up with his tempo. Josef is a source of energy, and no matter what, he makes you excited about … well, anything!

After a career full of successful films, such as Zozo (2005) Jalla! Jalla! (2000) he decided to switch to another medium, the world of video games. His great hits, "Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons" and "A Way Out" are unlike anything you've ever seen, and now he's going above and beyond the last two games with the newly announced title from Hazelight Studios: "It Takes Two." And that's not the end of it; he told me that he's working on another game when I asked about his future projects. Josef replies with excitement: "Yeah, yeah, yeah! But I'm working on the concept because now, you know, when we are in the ends, we are in the bug fixing mode right now, so right now I have a little more time to focus on the next one, so I already have the next game in my head. I can already tell you; you haven't seen anything like it, that's for sure. I'm super, super excited."

In this episode of "Wassup Conversations" Josef and I talked about his childhood, growing up in Lebanon and escaping the civil war. We talked about personal things and laughed and saddened by each other's life stories.

Josef is a hardcore gamer, he's recently finished The Last of Us Part II, and when I asked him about his favorite person in the video game industry, he answered: "I'm a big fan of Naughty Dog, and I think Neil Druckman is a super cool dude who's been very kind and cool and an inspiration to me, actually, Him and Bruce Straley are super cool dudes." And this was the moment when I changed the topic of the conversation.

Hamidreza Nikoofar: Speaking of Naughty Dog, have you played The Last of Us Part II?

Josef Fares: Yeah, yeah, yeah! For sure! Of course.

Hamidreza Nikoofar: Did you finish the game?

Josef Fares: yes, yes, of course.

Hamidreza Nikoofar: I fucking loved the ending, I don't know what's wrong with people. Did you like it?

Josef Fares: Yeah! We're not gonna spoil it, but I loved it. It took me a while to play it because I was going around and … the stuff, the details… the bar of their details is craaaaazy! I don't know how they do it. It's madness. Just the fact that how they handled ropes and stuff is unbelievable. Do you know how complex that shit is? Or when someone takes off their shirt. It's simple stuff, and normal players are like, "yeah, she's taking off her shirt." If I wanted to sell it to my developer team, they would pass out, I think. That's how complex this shit is.

So we tried to come up with a different way of cheating and not showing things in the camera and stuff, but they are like "ah! This is complex? Let's do it." It's crazy! You know, Naughty Dogg is like a football team, It's FC Barcelona there. If you're playing there, you better be ready. You can't come there and be like, "OK, I don't know!" NO, if you are there, you're in the champions league. If you're ready to play that game, then you can go to that studio, if you're not, you shouldn't go there, because they are in the top of the shit. Do you know what I mean?"

With the support of EA Games, Josef is free to do anything he wants. So, I was curious if he ever wants to make a AAA game at one point in his career.

Hamidreza Nikoofar: Do you think, you ever gonna make a AAA game? Like the games Naughty Dog makes?

Josef Fares: Yeah! At one point in the future. But it has to be on my terms.

Hamidreza Nikoofar: Have you ever thought about making an open-world game?

Josef Fares: Yes!

Hamidreza Nikoofar: That's going to be fucking amazing!

Josef Fares: Yeah! If we do an open-world game, trust me, it will be so unique and different for sure. I'd take away all the things that we know about it. I don't even like collectibles in games. I question everything like, why is this? Why is that? But if we do an open-world game, it wouldn't look like a normal open-world game, maybe in the future, who knows. There are many ideas I wish I could share something more about It Takes Two and the next one as well, but ... just make sure to play it when it comes out.

Speaking with a confidence as strong as Josef's, I'm telling you, this is the ultimate Josef Fares experience, and you should not miss it. Watch the entire conversations on Wassup Conversations' YouTube channel or on every major podcast streaming apps such as Spotify, Apple Podcast, and Castbox.