Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

 Bloodstained ritual of the night logo

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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
  • ArtPlay
  • DICO
Publisher(s) 505 Games
Producer(s) Koji Igarashi
Designer(s) Shutaro Iida
Artist(s) Yuji Natsume
Writer(s) Koji Igarashi
Composer(s) Michiru Yamane
Ippo Yamada
Jake Kaufman
Engine Unreal Engine 4
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
  • WW: March 2018
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is an upcoming action-adventure video game developed by ArtPlay and DICO, 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 is expected to be released in 2018 for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. The Vita version is being developed by Armature Studio. Inti Creates are developing a prequel minigame to be released alongside Bloodstained.

Igarashi conceived the game after his departure from Konami, prompted by numerous fan requests for him to make another Metroidvania-type game, and used Kickstarter to demonstrate to potential funding agencies of the demand for the title during May and June 2015. The Kickstarter campaign, originally set for $500,000, successfully raised more than $5.5 million from backers, making it the most funded video game crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter until it was surpassed by Shenmue III a month later.

Plot and gameplay

Bloodstained follows the protagonist Miriam, an orphan who is afflicted by an alchemist's curse, which is slowly turning her skin into crystal. To stop the curse, Miriam must explore a demon-filled castle and locate its summoner, Gebel, who has suffered from the same curse for a long time.

The game is expected to follow the Metroidvania-style gameplay of the post-Symphony of the Night 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.


Bloodstained is a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series, 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." 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.

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. 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. 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. 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.

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. The Kickstarter was launched on 11 May 2015. 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. The game succeeded in its base goal within four hours of going live, and reached $1 million within the first day. Various stretch goals were introduced and met, including obtaining David Hayter as the voice of Gebel for the game, and 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. 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. 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. The Bloodstained Kickstarter was successfully funded with more than $5.5M in pledges, and as of June 2015 the highest value video game Kickstarter project, exceeding the previous amount set by Torment: Tides of Numenera. 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.

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. Developer Inti Creates, whose name had been associated with Bloodstained earlier in the project, have been involved in developing a prequel mini-game that will be released alongside the main game. Bloodstained is being developed for Unreal Engine 4. Armature Studio will help to develop the PlayStation Vita version of the game and was set to port the Wii U version before its cancellation, which were stretch goals of the campaign. Armature Studio also plans to release the code base for the Vita port for free to any studio licensed to work on it, as the Unreal Engine 4 is not officially supported for the system. 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, the sound director at Inti Creates, and Jake Kaufman. 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. Promotion and handling of the social media for the Kickstarter campaign was handled by Fangamer. 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.

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.

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. 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". 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.

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.

In July 2016, Igarashi announced that the game had entered full production. 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 now is planning on a release in the first half of 2018. 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. Igarashi later revealed these studios as DICO, who have experience with localization and global development, and Monobit, for technical assistance with the game engine.

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.

The game will be published and marketed by 505 Games.

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