Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has just been released (Steam and GOG for PC users), following one of the most successful funding campaigns on Kickstarter. Bloodstained managed to raise over 5.5 million USD on the platforms, displacing Torment: Tides of Numenera as the most-funded game on the platform by a good 1.5 million. Although its reign as champion lasted only a brief two months, until Shenmue III was announced, Bloodstained remains a monument to the popularity of the Metroidvania genre.
This is how it all started.
What is Metroidvania?
The genre is generally considered to begin with the release of Nintendo's Metroid for the NES and Castlevania in 1986, though the formula would not be perfected for the next 11 years, until the most critically acclaimed game in the Castlevania series, Symphony of the Night hit the shelves in 1997.
The "final" Metroidvania formula combines features of sandbox, open world games, with the tight integration of story and mechanics normally expected of far more linear designs: A large, open world where new areas are unlocked by acquiring new tools, weapons, and abilities, each of which also unlocks new areas to explore, while the tight design ensures players are invested in the characters. Although usually associated with 2D and 2.5D platformers, the principles of the genre are perspective-agnostic and have been seen in other games, like Arkham Asylum and the venerable Dark Souls series.
And this is how it looks now.
How does it relate to Bloodstained?
The newly released game is a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series. After 20 million copies sold over its lifetime, the franchise has been left on the backburner after the underwhelming Lords of Shadow 2 released in 2014 (after a reboot), with only a Netflix TV series to tide fans over. However, it's more than merely a successor: It's developed by Koji Igarashi, the man responsible for establishing the Metroidvania formula with Symphony of the Night. A Konami alumnus, Igarashi left the company in 2014 to be able to independently pursue his own projects.
The 2015 Kickstarter was inspired by a similar one, the Mighty No. 9, which confirmed that crowdfunding was a viable method to develop independent games in this genre. Bloodstained confirmed that again, meeting its base goal - $500 000 - within four hours and another million by the end of the first day, eventually topping off at $5.5 million. The game's original release window in 2017 was delayed by two years to ensure that the stretch goals could be met.
Note: Might not be representative of orphans.
So, what is Bloodstained?
Ultimately, the game takes and builds on many of the mechanics of the Castlevania series, pitting the player in the role of a scarred orphan who battles her way through a demon-infested castle to save humanity. A sufficiently Gothic story is brought to life by a cast of veteran actors, including Metal Gear Solid veteran David Hayter, and scored by Michiru Yamane, another Castlevania alumnus. All accompanying a solid 2.5D experience that brings back the spirit of the old games (as Gothic games ought to).
While enjoying a return to form, why not visit the Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Wiki to prepare for the horrors ahead?
Michal's a wiki manager, writer, and a happily married husband and father. Video games are a big part of his life ever since the first shot fired in Wolfenstein 3D. Almost as big as books and history (don't get him started on it, though, or he'll talk your ears off).