A new title from the developer behind Castlevania has joined the torrent of Kickstarted “spiritual successors” to classic games, helmed by their original creators. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a new, side-scrolling action roleplaying game being developed by Koji Igarashi, the series’ longest-running producer.
“Publishers of the world told me that gamers no longer care for this style of game,” explained Igarashi from a gothic castle in the Kickstarter video, before shattering his glass of red wine and shouting, “but I know they are wrong!”
Bloodstained is a Castlevania game in all but name — Igarashi dances around it, but pointedly never quite mentions it by name in the pitch video. The player explores a gothic castle full of nightmarish monsters while acquiring various weapons, armor, and magical relics that imbue the player with new abilities that in turn open up more areas of the castle for exploration. This particular style of platforming action and exploration gameplay is often called “Metroidvania,” referring to the similar style pioneered by the Metroid games, or sometimes “Igavania,” which underlines Igarashi’s importance in popularizing the genre.
Although Igarashi was not involved in the Castlevania series’ genesis, he is best known for his role in revitalizing the brand with his work on the fan-favorite PlayStation game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Published in 1997 when many developers were enraptured by the new PlayStation’s capacity for 3D graphics, Symphony instead used the increased storage capacity of the game’s CD to cram it full of lush, hand-drawn 2D art, such that it looked like an SNES platformer on steroids. Igarashi shepherded the franchise through 2010’s Harmony of Despair, and then left Konami entirely in 2014 to strike out on his own.
Igarashi’s journey bears more than a passing resemblance to Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune leaving Capcom to create the Mega Man successor he always wanted to, Mighty No. 9. Igarashi is in fact working with Japanese developer Inti Creates for Bloodstained, the same studio that has been developing Mighty No. 9 with Inafune. Both titles aim to reimagine the creative core of their forebears, while liberated from the constraints of established series lore/conventions and the conservative demands of the large publishers that hold the rights to their original franchises.