LOS ANGELES – No one wanted traditional 2D exploration-based action/role-playing games; that was common knowledge prior to 2016. Koji Igarashi, who developed some of the best installments in the legendary Castlevania series, didn’t believe conventional wisdom, however.
His Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was one of the most successful video game crowdfunding projects ever. Now that the game is inching closer and closer to release, Iga (ash is fans call him) shared some of his thoughts with us on what’s made his latest game really resonate with fans.
I had the opportunity to interview Iga at E3 2017 right after my colleague Sherri Smith played through a brand-new level in Bloodstained (which, in case you forgot, won our Best Indie award from E3 2016). The new level, set in a crumbling church, would feel right at home in a classic Castlevania title, with its monstrous floating heads, gothic architecture and blood-soaked bosses.
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Bloodstained has come a long way since it was just a proof-of-concept on a Kickstarter page. In fact, when the project launched, Iga wasn’t at all certain that it would resonate with modern gamers.
“Before I started the Kickstarter campaign, I was so worried that it wasn’t going to go too well,” Iga said. “This kind of genre was not so common anymore. When I started the Kickstarter campaign, and when it went live, and we heard so many passionate voices from the fans, I was so shocked – in a good way – and also very, very happy.”
The last traditional Castlevania installment came out in 2008, but fans will find that not much has changed in the intervening nine years, at least from a gameplay perspective.
“The concept and characters, those are all different from the previous Castlevania series,” Iga explained. “In regard to gameplay and how players will play the game, it’s actually very similar, and almost the same, as some of the previous Castlevanias.”
One thing that struck me immediately when I played Bloodstained for the first time was how gorgeous it looked – like an animated storybook – and how ominous and instantly familiar the music felt. The graphics and sound have always helped define Castlevania, and the same will hold true for its spiritual successor.
“Throughout all the games I’ve worked on, the fans especially loved the art style and the music,” Iga said. “When I’m developing Bloodstained, that’s what I have to work very hard on, to answer the fans’ voices.”
Iga’s answers aren’t too surprising, but the common thread running through them is that he wants to deliver what the fans asked for. After all, fans didn’t just put their faith and hope in Iga; in many cases, they put up money as well. Bloodstained will be out in early 2018 for a variety of platforms. The game has looked fantastic, both at E3 2016 and 2017, but we won’t know for sure whether it will realize its full potential until it launches.