If any developer at E3 2016 is bursting at the seams, itching to get back into the game, it’s Koji Igarashi. The man who ushered Castlevania into a new exploratory era nearly 20 years ago with Symphony of the Night – a game which was utterly revolutionary for its time – is ready to bring his patented brand of side-scrolling action to the Kickstarter crowd, and he showed that he’s still one of the masters of 2D design with a spectacular E3 demo.
Igarashi, known affectionately to legions of fans throughout the world simply as “Iga,” has endured more than half a decade of slumber away from the genre he loves. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is on the way next year via ID@Xbox, however, and Igarashi is clearly proud – and fiercely passionate – about what his record-breaking crowdfunded project means to him as a developer.
“It’s been more than five years since anyone’s played a game in this genre that I made,” Igarashi says. “My main goal is to solidify the foundation of what makes ‘Igavania’-style games great – and build on that with better controls, better enemy design, and better effects.”
Plenty of E3 hands-on demos truly feel like works-in-progress that might ultimately reach their potential – not so with Bloodstained. The snippet we played already looks and feels ready for prime time, and it should only get better with the nine months of polish to come.
The moment we took control of gothic protagonist Miriam, we could sense Iga’s fingerprints all over the game – in the best possible sense. Movement is absolutely key in an Igavania-style experience, and Miriam controls just enough like one of the Belmonts from Castlevania to feel cozily familiar – but her moveset, which mixes scintillating sword slashes and punishing kicks, brings more options to the table. According to Igarashi, his team’s immense amount of experience has helped them quickly identify the areas that might need improvement, along with those elements that are just right the way they are.
“My team has made so many of these types of games that we understand the key to gameplay – and how to experiment in the right way,” he says. “We probably have more collective experience making these types of games than anyone else in the world. That experience affects how we look at Bloodstained as creators and try to build it out.”’
That said, Igarashi is clear that what drives Bloodstained isn’t innovation – it’s the pursuit of perfection. He’s focused on passionately molding and perfecting that classic formula he first made famous, not necessarily building an all-new type of experience from the ground up. The results are already a treat for anyone who’s played even one of Igarashi’s many titles over the years, and any fan of classic side-scrolling action should keep their calendar open for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night when it hits Xbox One via ID@Xbox in March 2017.