Skull Island: Rise of Kong Key Art

How Skull Island: Rise of Kong Is Inspired by Its Rich Lore

An iconic quest for survival and vengeance. Kong, the King of Skull Island, pursues his ultimate arch-nemesis Gaw in Skull Island: Rise of Kong, an all-new action-adventure game that explores the origins of Merian C. Cooper’s “King Kong.” Before New York, Kong was born and raised in the prehistoric wilds of Skull Island; this childhood cut short as the super-saurian predator Gaw kills Kong’s parents forcing the eventual King to survive the exotic threats of Skull Island on his own. In Skull Island: Rise of Kong, you’ll journey as Kong on his quest to transcend this moment of terror, overcome all odds, and become the legendary battle-scarred 30-foot “King of Skull Island.”

This game involved the close collaboration with creator Joe DeVito, who penned and illustrated two original stories about the lore of the island in “Skull Island” and “The History of Skull Island.” These stories answered fan questions about King Kong: what was the human civilization like on Skull Island, how was the Wall built, the history of the Kong species and of course, how did Kong become the King of Skull Island?

Zach Alt: What from Kong’s story were you most interested in seeing adapted into a video game?

Joe DeVito The thing I was most excited about in this game was seeing the backstory of the young Kong himself and what he had to go through to become the ruler of Skull Island. Seeing Gaw, and her highly intelligent death runner minions interpreted as living creatures was particularly gratifying. In my King Kong of Skull Island universe life on Skull Island did not stop when the dinosaurs became extinct all over the rest of the earth some 65 million years ago. It continued to evolve, and I wanted to build on that. What if its ‘hands’ developed dexterity akin to ours, which have opposable thumbs–an essential detail that helped put our brains on the fast track towards developing a problem-solving intelligence? What I discovered was a race of pseudo-sentient saurians and their colossal Queen: Gaw.

When the human civilization and the Kongs arrived on Skull Island, it was Gaw and the deathrunners who had ruled there for uncounted years, and they had no intention of giving up their dominion over the island.

This struggle would not be finalized for many centuries. Its conclusion would finally come with the rise of an orphaned young Kong who would eventually grow into a giant among giants. He would pass into myth and legend as King Kong. This history is what I am hoping gamers really gravitate to and enjoy as they experience this title.

Zach Alt: What was fascinating about Kong’s origin story?

Joe DeVito The aspects I loved most about creating my prequel/sequel to King Kong were two-fold. The first was answering life-long questions behind the story of Kong and Skull Island, such as who or what was Kong and how did he come to exist on the island? For that matter, what was the history of Skull Island itself and why did the dinosaurs there never die out? What were the details of the human civilization that came to live there and how did they manage to build a gigantic Wall with the likes of ferocious dinosaurs and Kong himself lurking in their midst–and if they built the Wall to keep Kong and other giants out, why did it have doors big enough to let them in?

Unraveling all those mysteries naturally led to contemplating a myriad of associated details of Skull Island all the way down to the rocks, water, even the bacteria of the island’s make up, in order to detail a plausible reality on which to base my findings. This led to unending possibilities for the all the normally associated species of plant, insect, and animal forms of life, and the creation of many that have never been encountered before. An example of the last detail is an indigenous spider species that shows strange characteristics of both arachnid and mammalian, such as external musculature on the eight legs and feeding the dozens of hatched spiderlings with a milky substance–not to mention grasping appendages at the end of each of its eight otherwise spider-like limbs. I delved into the reasons for these and many other strange anomalies on the island, and why they have (so far) not spread to the rest of the world and visa-versa are all explored in detail.  The questions could go on forever…in total, it is what could be described as the “world creation” of it all that enthralled me the most.

It was really fun to see some of these questions and backstory that I created adapted into the creatures in the game, especially the aforementioned spiders that Kong will encounter later in the game. I hope the gamer has fun seeing some of these creations adapted, seeing skullite-filled caves, and exploring some of the backstory through collectibles that are present within the title. 

Zach Alt: Who are the most compelling creatures you wanted to see brought to life in the game?

Joe DeVito The main creatures I was most excited to see in the game and the main one–more accurately, ones–are the deathrunners and their monstrous queen, Gaw. Gaw is a deathrunner herself that is chosen early on and fed a special diet by the other deathrunners, like a queen bee. This diet triggers a physiological transformation necessary to preserve and propagate their line. They are a unique and intelligent species, the result of over 65 million years of additional adaptation in the strange environs of Skull Island. The smaller, though slightly larger than human, deathrunners are not at all like an ordinary raptor, such as Velociraptor. They exhibit many physiological differences including a greatly enlarged braincase with a more erect stance due to the spinal column being connected underneath the skull as in humans rather than through the back as in other saurians, with an altered hip structure and other anatomical changes.  

Gaw is utterly unique to herself, being an enormously enlarged version of a deathrunner with even more enhanced intelligence bringing her to a level on that with the Kongs themselves. But Gaw and the deathrunners are different in that theirs is a cold, calculating, reptilian intelligence, whereas Kong is a mammal, capable of a wider range of emotions. In the end it is Kong’s greater courage, his indomitable spirit if you will, that gives him the edge over the larger and in some respects, more powerful, Gaw. This was all well reflected in the design of the game!

To learn more, visit or pre-order Skull Island: Rise of Kong from the Xbox Store.

Xbox Live

Skull Island: Rise of Kong

GameMill Entertainment

Embark on a 3rd person action-adventure quest to avenge the death of your parents at the hands of the ultimate alpha predator: Gaw. Conquer waves of primal beasts and defeat the minions of your arch-nemesis on your way to becoming the rightful King of Skull Island. Traverse the mysterious island and uncover lore and all the secrets the island has to offer as you encounter swamps, waterfalls, jungle, and skullite-filled caves that give the island’s flora and fauna its power • Experience the origins of the orphaned Kong as he metamorphosizes from a young Kong to the fully mature King of Skull Island • Unleash the combat fury of Kong to deal devastating combos to dominate the ferocious minions of Gaw and tactically unleash rage mode to heighten the impact of your attacks against the island’s gargantuan subterranean denizens • Send your enemies running for the hills as you unleash Kong’s spine-tingling roar and deliver their final coup de grace through unique finishing attacks • Discover the Mythos of Skull Island as you unearth collectibles, unlock mysterious areas of the island and learn about the history of the islanders, the exotic flora and fauna and the rich history of the Kongs. • Ascend Kong to new heights through special events and a variety of boss fights that unlock his full combat potential • Leap and Climb mountainous terrain, island vines, swamps, hidden caves, and the various terrain of the jungle-island on your quest to avenge the death of your parents.