Ring the bells! Grab your stones! This Kickstarter is Blasphemous!
No, really, it’s the name of one of the most popular active campaigns out of the gaming niche on the popular crowdfunding site. Asking for a moderate (compared to many of the more popular campaigns) sum of $50,000, “Blasphemous” has, at the time of writing, nine days left and has already garnered an impressive $171,000+. Created by The Game Kitchen, developers of the “The Last Door”, they are proving that Spain’s indie dev community has grown to be one of the strongest around.
“Blasphemous” is described as an action-platformer mixed with the twitch mechanics of a hack-n-slash. At first glance, it seems to pull a lot of inspiration from the “Castlevania” series, but with modern mechanics, deeper narrative and beautiful high-resolution pixel art. The campaign page also claims that the game universe is huge and nonlinear.
Using the over $168,000 given so far, the devs plan to use the money to remain completely independent. They express concern that if they were to be invested in by a publisher or any other venture capitalism, they may lose some creative control due to the possibly controversial topics, namely the religious and demonic theme. Mainly, the funds would be used on art asset creation.
“How could they spend $168,000 on art alone?!”, you may be asking. While I would remind you that all aspects of game development are expensive and they could probably find ways to spend that entirely on art, they won’t be. The additional funds have already been allocated to their stretch goals like: a bunch of other game modes, online features, extra language options and an additional programmer. At the campaign’s current pace, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if they reach their next stretch goal of adding a special boss to the game. They haven’t revealed all goals after the next goal of $175,000, but they do list that if they receive $300,000, they will be adding voice acting for NPC’s and bosses.
As mentioned above, the art seems to be one of the highest priorities for the game (outside of good gameplay, hopefully) and judging by their examples provided on the campaign page, they are delivering. The setting is an mysterious hellscape filled with some of the most grotesque and disturbing character models I’ve seen in a long time. Considering that everything is pixelated, that’s pretty impressive to make me cringe at the site of some of the enemies such as: the “Acolyte”, the “Condemned” and my personal favorite, the “Processioner”. The bosses, which are unnamed, are absolutely terrifying. Even the game’s protagonist, “The Penitent One”, is off-putting, though he makes you immediately wonder what he’s done in the past to make him penitent. As you scroll through the available gifs and screenshots, you won’t be surprised to learn that the art was directly inspired by local artistic icons such as “Procession of Flagellants” by Francisco Goya from 1793.
Other than art and narrative, one other way for a game like this to pull you into its universe is through fantastic audio. To do this, the recruited the talents of Carlos Viola. Using the melancholy and sometimes downright macabre sounds from centuries old sacred choral music, the tone is immediately set for the player, it seems. Also, whether intentional or not, the choice of using music that sounds as if it was recorded from the inside of a grand cathedral really sets the scale of the setting, enemies and narrative.
If you would like to join in on the early development of “Blasphemous”, you still have time to give to the Kickstarter. Options range from: $1 for exclusive backer updates, $20 for the digital download of the game on release, all the way to $2,000 to live stream the game on launch day, have dinner with the team, a guided tour of Seville and all the previous tier rewards (Note: some rewards were limited and are no longer available).
Overall, “Blasphemous” promises to be a stunning, yet horrifically brutal game with hardcore mechanics. It seems as if players will be able to get lost in a damned world with heavy implications and, if released in Q1 of 2019 as their development timeline states, it will start off 2019 as a good year of gaming.
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