Kickstarter has something of a stained reputation. For every Pillars of Eternity, there is a Mighty No 9. For every success story, there is a cautionary tale. Now, Kickstarter has a new stain to its name — but thankfully, it’s a welcome one.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been one of crowd-funding’s most anticipated games. Billed as the spiritual successor to one of gaming’s all-time greats, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, there was a lot of expectation riding on these vampiric shoulders.
The result, in short, is exactly what fans paid for — which is a bona fide success where Kickstarter is concerned. Bloodstained is a true Castlevania game in all but name, combining the exploration, music, imagination and weaponry of the fabled series into a modern take on old-school gameplay. The heroine Miriam explores a giant map, section by section, until the map starts to twist and turn upon itself, new abilities opening up new routes and opportunities to explore.
We like to think of Bloodstained as a kind of twisted zoo or prison complex, where every fresh section brings a twisted new bestiary to gape at, along with the various weapons and abilities they might drop as you kill them.
Miriam can equip everything from spears to swords to whips (of course) and even a shovel. Meanwhile, she can also wield magical abilities and craft new items and material as needed too. Similar to later Castlevania games, she can use the souls of enemies to replenish abilities.
All in all, Bloodstained delivers exactly what Kickstarter was designed to deliver. In lieu of Konami funding him a new Castlevania, the creator let the fans do the talking as they paid for one instead. While that hasn’t’ always worked out (see Might No 9 as a failed Megaman successor), we’re really happy to say Bloodstained has succeeded where others have failed.
It's not a perfect experience, of course. There are still some bugs in the game and it doesn’t always come across as the most polished graphically, but that only adds to the charm. Ultimately, these things always come out in the wash – and this is one stain we’re proud to have in our collection.
Meanwhile, Castlevania is one of the games featured in Summer Games Done Quick, the annual speed-running festival currently taking place in Minneapolis and streaming live on Twitch. Last year, the charity event raised over $2m for Medicine Sans Frontier. Can gaming’s biggest nerds beat that total this year?
If you have doubts about that claim to nerd fame, we encourage you to watch some of the streams. You will see games beaten in the most extraordinary ways, at speeds and with skill that will astonish you.
The most wonderful thing about Summer Games Done Quick, however, isn’t the mathematical precision in which games are taken apart, but the humour and passion shown by the runners and their couch quests during the runs. The even originally started small, with a group of friends getting together to share their passion for games, and it maintains that same spirit today, even with the millions raised for charity.
This year, you’ll have a chance to see various Zelda games, Metroid, Mario and sub-fourhour Kingdom Hearts III run. There’s also a chance to see remakes of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro beaten in super quick time, alongside some more 16-bit games like Last Action Hero. The only thing faster than the runs is how quickly we tune in — highly recommended.
Finally, while Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has a great bestiary, you can’t beat the real thing. Planet Zoo is looking like a fantastic game for people who want to learn about realworld animals and how they are treated and cared for in conservation.
According to the creators, Fronter Development, each animal in the zoo will have their own ‘genetic code’ that gives them different behaviours and personalities. They claim it will be a game about education and learning, alongside the usual management challenges of running a zoo park. You will have to keep visitors happy and fed, prevent in-breeding amongst the animals and you ‘won’t be able to just leave the park unattended or everything will collapse’. Planet Zoon releases in November and is looking beastly.