Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Bloodstained ritual of the night logo.png
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)505 Games
Producer(s)Koji Igarashi
Designer(s)Shutaro Iida
Artist(s)Yuji Natsume
Writer(s)Koji Igarashi
Composer(s)
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Release2019
Genre(s)Action-adventure
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is an upcoming action-adventure video game developed by ArtPlay, DICO and WayForward Technologies, and published by 505 Games. The game is led by former Castlevania series producer Koji Igarashi, and is considered a spiritual successor to the series. Bloodstained will be released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. It is expected to be released in 2019. A retro-style companion game, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, was developed by Inti Creates and released in May 2018.

Igarashi conceived the game after his departure from Konami in 2014, prompted by numerous fan requests for him to make another Metroidvania-type game. He used the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to demonstrate to potential funding agencies of the demand for the game in 2015, which successfully raised more than US$5.5 million from backers, making it the most funded video game crowdfunding campaign on the platform until it was surpassed by Shenmue III shortly after.

Plot[edit]

Bloodstained follows the protagonist Miriam, an orphan who was taken in by an Alchemist guild and subjected to experiments that cause her to crystalize as the result of magi-crystals, crystalized demonic energy, being transplanted into her body. The ordeal placed her in a ten year coma, awakening to find her condition temporarily halted by an alchemist named Johannes who was against the guild's act to summon demons to their world, though his treatment can be averted should Miriam assimilate too many crystal shards from defeated demons.[1][2] To prevent the outbreak of demons and end the curse while retaining her humanity, Miriam ventures into Demon Castle to confront Gebel, another of the alchemists' magi-crystal experiments who lost his humanity and summoned the demons to change the world.[3][4][5]

Gameplay[edit]

The game is expected to follow the Metroidvania-style gameplay of the post-Symphony of the Night and Order of Ecclesia games of the Castlevania series; by defeating enemies, Miriam will gain powers enabled by the crystals on her body, as well as items that can be used to craft new weapons and armor. The game will be presented in a 2.5D style, presenting the game in three-dimensional graphics but restricting movement to a 2D system. Igarashi stated the choice for 2.5D was that it follows in the style of his previous Castlevania games.[4][6]

Development[edit]

Producer and scenario writer Koji Igarashi at the 2017 New York Comic Con

Bloodstained is a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series by Konami, of which Koji Igarashi had been the series producer from 2001 to 2010. In March 2014, Igarashi opted to leave Konami, stating concern for his continued employment and differences in the directions they wanted to take the company. Igarashi later stated "For the longest time, when I was working at Konami, I was protected by my company. They took care of me. Now I'm kind of anxious."[7][8][9][10] Igarashi also stated that he had received a large number of requests from fans to continue to develop Castlevania games, giving him another reason to leave Konami and aim to start his own studio to develop these fan-requested games, including a Metroidvania-styled game with similar themes to Castlevania.[8][10][11]

Prior to his departure, news of the success of the Kickstarter for Mighty No. 9, a Mega Man-inspired game produced by the former series producer and artist Keiji Inafune, had reached Japan, and inspired Igarashi that this could be a similar route to obtain funding for a new game.[7] Following his departure, he began pitching for funding of a new game with the help of Digital Development Management's Ben Judd, who has also assisted with Mighty No. 9's funding.[7] They approached more than twenty publishers with the pitch, but found that none of them were willing to help. According to Judd, while Igarashi's reputation reduced the risk involved with the title and the projected budget was modest, the publishers were skeptical. Japanese publishers want to make sure that the American and European markets would want the title, and Castlevania games historically were not as well received in European markets. Western publishers believed the Japanese origins of the games were too strange for them.[7] After six months with no success, Igarashi opted to join mobile developer ArtPlay as a paying job, but worked with the company to assure that he would be free to continue to pursue this new game idea.[7]

Kickstarter[edit]

Igarashi recognized the success of Mighty No. 9's Kickstarter, and began seeking how to do that for his vision. He and Judd were able to locate investors that would help contribute funds, but only if they could show there was a strong interest in the title. The two opted to use Kickstarter to demonstrate what they believed would be a popular title, seeking to gain $500,000 to secure funding that would cover the remaining 10% of development costs.[12] The Kickstarter was launched on 11 May 2015.[13] Promotion and handling of the social media for the Kickstarter campaign was handled by Fangamer.[14] Prior to the Kickstarter, Igarashi teased the announcement through social media using the phrases "igavania" and "sword or whip", and on the day of the announcement, participated in live streaming event via Twitch playing several other Metroidvania titles with various gaming personalities and developers.[1] 2 Player Productions helped with filming Igarashi's pitch for the Kickstarter at Castello di Amorosa in northern California a month prior to its announcement.[7]

The game succeeded in its base goal within four hours of going live,[15] and reached $1.5 million within the first day.[16] Various stretch goals were introduced and met, including obtaining David Hayter as a voice actor for the game.[6] Hayter had originally been slated for the role of Gebel, but ended up as Zangetsu for the final game.[17] Additional stretch goals included hiring Robert Belgrade, the voice of Alucard in Symphony of the Night to have a voice role, and allowing artist Ayami Kojima to create the packaging artwork for physical copies.[18] Additional stretch goals include support for local co-operative play, a boss rush mode, a "classic mode" which will rework some portions of the game's maps into strictly-linear levels akin to the original Castlevania games, and a roguelike dungeon mode where the player can challenge a procedurally-generated dungeon.[19][20] In addition to monetary stretch goals, Igarashi is offering additional bonuses for all backers based on the amount of social media content the Kickstarter generates, such as followers of the game on Twitter or Facebook or number of pieces of fan artwork submitted to its site.[21] The Bloodstained Kickstarter was successfully funded with more than $5.5M in pledges,[22] and as of June 2015 the highest value video game Kickstarter project, exceeding the previous amount set by Torment: Tides of Numenera.[23] However, about two months afterwards, the Kickstarter for Shenmue III broke Bloodstained's record, raising over $6.3 million in a similar period as Bloodstained.[24]

Design[edit]

Igarashi and ArtPlay are developing the game's narrative, design, and overseeing production, while they have hired DICO as a third-party publisher around June 2016 to assist in developing the game's assets and level design. The game will be published and marketed by 505 Games.[25] Developer Inti Creates, whose name had been associated with Bloodstained earlier in the project, have been involved in developing a mini-game that will be released alongside the main game.[26] Bloodstained is being developed for Unreal Engine 4.[4][27] Armature Studio was set to port the PlayStation Vita and Wii U versions before their cancellation, which were stretch goals of the campaign.[28][29][30] Armature Studio also planned to release the code base for both the Wii U and Vita ports for free to any studio licensed to work on it, as Unreal Engine 4 is not officially supported on either system.[31] Near the end of 2018, Igarashi announced they had also brought on WayForward Technologies to help with some development, specifically in the area of polishing the title. Igarashi had been impressed by WayForward's skill in 2D platform games, such as their Shantae series, and was excited for them to be part of the project.[32]

The game's music will be written by Michiru Yamane, a former Konami composer who worked on the music for several Castlevania games, Ippo Yamada, Jake Kaufman, and members of the musical group Noisycroak.[21][33][34] Shutaro Iida, who worked on previous Castlevania games as a programmer, director and designer, is returning to the game in the role of a planner.[35]

A single-level demonstration of Bloodstained was made available to play for attendees of Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016, and was released to Kickstarter backers a week later.[36][37] In July 2016, Igarashi announced that the game had entered full production.[38]

Though Igarashi originally anticipated a 2017 release, he announced in September 2016 that he was bringing a second studio to help with the development of the game, and delayed the game.[39] Igarashi stated the delay was primarily due to the added work to complete the campaign's stretch goals, a factor he could not consider during the Kickstarter period, and his commitment to making a high quality game, "better than a traditional Iga-vania game that I've made in the past" and not wanting to back down on quality just to make the original release date. The amount of work in man-hours, along with Inti Create's inexperience with the Unreal engine to complete some of the concepts he wanted in the game, led Igarashi to bring in additional studios and push back the release date.[40] Igarashi later revealed these studios as DICO, who have experience with localization and global development, and Monobit, for technical assistance with the game engine.[41] The game is slated for release in 2019.[42]

In March 2017, Igarashi opted to transfer development from the Wii U to the Nintendo Switch, offering backers who had selected the Wii U version a refund or a choice of the game on a different platform, with the Switch being the default option for backers who had previously chosen the Wii U. Igarashi had started the Kickstarter when the Wii U was the dominant Nintendo platform, but with the introduction of the Switch since that point, he found it difficult to support the Wii U, and made the transition.[43]

The game's name is based around the concept of magi-crystal curse that inflicts the main characters: they grow across the person's body with the appearance of stained glass, and Igarashi felt that "Bloodstained" was a good play on words to reflect that.[44] While the title is thematically based around the Gothic theme like Castlevania, Igarashi did not want to incorporate the public domain character of Dracula into it, feeling it would make the game too close to previous Castlevania titles and did not want to make his new game feel like a "half-baked copy".[44] Igarashi opted to make the main playable character Miriam female based on recognizing current trends in video games in Western markets to present strong female lead characters that the broad range of intended players of either gender would enjoy playing, while avoiding the developmental encumbrances of creating two separate-gendered playable characters.[45]

Release[edit]

The development team announced that they would release the game using a staggered content model, following the approach used by Shovel Knight, so that they are able to release the core game on time, and bring additional content to the game over time and avoid critical release delays.[46] On August 20, 2018, the team announced that the PlayStation Vita version of the game had been cancelled due to Sony dropping support for the system; backers that desired the Vita release were given the option of selecting the game for a different platform for free or assorted refund options.[42]

As part of the Kickstarter's stretch goals, Inti Creates also developed a companion game, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, a NES-stylized platform game with Miriam and Gebel playable alongside the swordsman exorcist Zangetsu and the alchemist Alfred.[47] It was released on Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Switch on May 24, 2018.[48]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Igarashi, Koji (11 May 2015). "Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  2. ^ Igarashi, Koji (11 May 2015). "Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015. Miriam
    Picked up as an orphan by an Alchemist at a young age, she became a host for the dark Alchemists' curse. Although the magi-crystals were fused with her body at a young age, for 10 years she lay sleeping while the curse matured to its full form. It was during this period that the demons arrived, meaning that she missed their appearance and awoke with a mild form of amnesia, not quite fully understanding what happened to her.
    She is a woman of few words but strong of purpose. Her youth is deceiving, making her seem confrontational and quick to judge, though in reality she is constantly evaluating her next step. The pain she felt as an orphaned child fuels her compassionate desire to protect her loved ones and friends.
  3. ^ Igarashi, Koji (11 May 2015). "Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015. Gebel
    Original host for the magi-crystal curse that summons demons to the planet. Gebel (JEE-bill) was the only one to survive its effects at such a high level. He destroyed the guild that created him, but in doing so realized he was no longer human and had no place on Earth. This in turn, led him to summon the demon castle from hell to appear on the planet.
    It is said that his real purpose in summoning the castle was to give Miriam a place of her own, but as his Magi-crystal disease progressed, he soon forgot his own reasoning. The more he surrounded himself with hell-spawn, the quicker the magi-crystals engulfed his body. He continues to plot the downfall of man, and how to best convince (or use) Miriam to achieve his dark ambition.
  4. ^ a b c Matulef, Jeffrey (11 May 2015). "Castlevania director Koji Igarashi announces Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 14 May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  5. ^ Igarashi, Koji (11 May 2015). "Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015. Johannes
    A member of the defunct Alchemist guild and Gebel's best friend. Johannes (yo-HAH-nis) was the only Alchemist who dissented with the plan to call demons to the earth to cement Alchemy as the prevalent philosophy. His rejection of the other Alchemists’ scheme is what kept him from sharing their fate. He has a vague understanding that Miriam's awakening and the demon castle’s appearance are no mere coincidence.
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