At independent games festival BitSummit 7 Spirits in Kyoto this past weekend, we sat down with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night producer Koji Igarashi to talk a bit about the side-scrolling action game ahead of its impending release.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is due out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on June 18, and for Switch on June 25.
Read our full interview below.
Gematsu: It’s been four years since the initial announcement of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. How does it feel to finally be at the finish line?
Koji Igarashi, Producer: “Finally, I made it to this point.”
How has the fan reception been?
Igarashi: “The fan reception has been pretty varied. There have been some fans in Japan concerned about the release of the physical version, and to them I’d like to say I’m sorry for some of the hiccups. So yeah, there’s both voices excited for the release and voices concerned about some aspects.”
There was a delay in the physical release in Japan—or the release in general—wasn’t there?
Igarashi: “It’s difficult to release everything at the same time in multiple regions with different regulations, though the game is on its way. So I’d ask you to be patient for a little bit more.”
In a recent trailer, you commented on fan criticism in a humorous way. How did you take the criticism personally?
Igarashi: “Well, I feel like they had the right to say the things they said, so I apologize.”
There are a number of features due out post-release—two additional characters, four different modes, and multiplayer for certain modes. Is there a timeline you can share as to when these features will be added?
Igarashi: “The publisher will announce it, so I can’t say anything about those features.”
Was it difficult to delay those features to something post-release?
Igarashi: “We just wanted to get the main game out for people to enjoy as quickly as possible.”
Is there any element or feature of Bloodstained you would say you’re particularly proud of? Or that you hope fans will appreciate the most?
Igarashi: “This time, there is a lot of depth in the Shard and alchemy systems. So for people who really want to dive deep into the game, there is a ton of things waiting for you.”
Would you say you were able to make Bloodstained the way you envisioned it to be? Compared to the Castlevania series?
Igarashi: “Well… most of the games I made, I was fortunate enough to have a lot of creative freedom. Though, in the past titles had some limitations because it was an established series. For instance, there was criticism when we decided to stab a Belmont in the game. It all comes down to there always being fans of the series, who have their own images of the characters, their own images of the game world, and we had to be careful not to make anything that goes against that. Though this time we were building from scratch, it was both a difficult and pleasant experience.”
How much of Castlevania would you say you injected into Bloodstained, while still creating an individual identity for Bloodstained?
Igarashi: “There are no elements of Castlevania in the story. In the gameplay, however, there are definitely elements that will remind you of Castlevania. When we launched the Kickstarter campaign, we discussed what our audience would want from an Igarashi title, and I thought they would probably want a ‘gothic horror’ experience. At least not something that’s sci-fi or something set in the future. Therefore, the elements will be similar to an extent, but we took care to distinguish this game from Castlevania.”
What would you say makes Bloodstained stand out from Castlevania?
Igarashi: “The Shard system is very flashy, so its should stand out a lot.”
Can you talk a bit about how you created the boss fights?
Igarashi: “Well, the director, which is my right hand man, had things he wanted to do for the boss fights. And I also had my own ideas. So we started from trying to the things we wanted to do. Especially, one feature we wanted to do was to use the bosses’ abilities to expand the area. So obviously the boss fights got structured around that mechanic.”
How long is a single playthrough?
Igarashi: “Including some time to get lost, it should take about 10 or more hours.”
Is that without the added elements?
Igarashi: “That’s right. The enemies and bosses are quite tough this time.”
Igarashi: “Uhhh… this time we wanted to lower the difficulty. The past series got harder and harder as it progressed, so we wanted to make it easier this time. Although getting feedback from various places, the difficulty has been going up and down. So I guess if you only use the weapons it might feel hard, but if you utilize the Shard system, it will become significantly easier.”
I want to talk about Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. Were you surprised with its success?
Igarashi: “Well, that was entirely created by Inti Creates, so I wasn’t involved fully. Though it was a pleasant surprise to see the positive reception and the initial sales. I just hope Ritual of the Night with follow suit.”
Has Curse of the Moon‘s success inspired you to make more spin-offs in the future?
Igarashi: “Well, not as a spin-off, but I hope Bloodstained will grow as a series. Not only games, but I’d be happy if there would ever be an anime or something.”
Is there demand for that?
Igarashi: “Of course. I don’t think anyone intends to make a game series that will end in a single entry.”
Outside of the free updates, will there be any paid downloadable content or anything of that sort?
Igarashi: “I will have more to say in the future.”
One of the major blows of the Kickstarter campaign was the cancellation of the PS Vita version…
Igarashi: “We decided to cancel the PS Vita version right around the time Sony stopped support for it.”
How was the reception to the PS Vita version’s cancellation?
Igarashi: “We had the option to change the consoles if you wanted, and if you wanted a refund, there was a refund system in place.”
Do you want to take a break after this game or do you have any plans for future games?
Igarashi: “I’d like to take a break, but if I don’t start preparations, I’m probably going to die. (Laughs.)”
Do you want to tackle other genres in the future?
Igarashi: “I think other genres are interesting. But I love making action games. So I’m going to stick with that for now.”
2D action or 3D action?
Igarashi: “Both. But I can’t share anything now because then everyone is going to start expecting things. (Laughs.)”
If you had the chance to make another Castlevania, what kind of game would you like to make?
Igarashi: “There are two episodes that we’ve implied but never finished. So I’d like to finish those.”
How long ago was that?
Igarashi: “In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, we implied that Dracula was destroyed in 1999, but no one has yet to tell that story.”
So if Konami gave you the offer, would you make it?
Our time looks to be at its limit. Any final words for the fans before we wrap this up?
Igarashi: “Bloodstained is made with the concept of ‘what was fun back then is definitely fun now as well.’ So I guarantee that this game is fun. So I hope that everyone will enjoy Ritual of the Night.”