Carpathian Night interview: a Castlevania Inspired Sidescroller on Kickstarter now
There’s something strange going on in the Carpathian Mountains. An evil force is brewing; something involving vampire hunting, platforming, and pixel art! Carpathian Nights is a 2D retro action game coming courtesy of indie studio Tezcatek. Following a pair of vampire hunters in their quest to stop Dracula’s nefarious plans, the creators are currently seeking to breathe unholy life into their creation through the dark necromancy of Kickstarter. Intrigued by the game’s neat demo and its charmingly old-timey attitude, we caught up with lead director and designer Cesar Hernandez a few days before the campaign to get the lowdown on this supernatural sidescroller.
Dread XP: Can you tell us a bit about who Tezcatek are?
Cesar Hernadez: Tezcatek is a newly formed independent game developer based out of Dallas, Texas. The group is composed of several members of the Castlevania fan community. We grew up playing Castlevania games, and now we feel compelled to continue the vampire hunting tradition!
DXP: How did Carpathian Night get started?
Cesar: Carpathian Night started as a side project, started by myself during my college days. I did not work on the game for long before other people expressed interest in contributing. The first time I ever showed the game was back when all I had was a mock screenshot of what I envisioned the game to look like, made with my bad pixel art skills. Even with my bad artwork, it was enough to convey the general idea I had for this game, and other people began to contribute. The project continued to grow from there to the team and game we have now.
DXP: Castlevania is an obvious inspiration here; what is it about the series that appeals to you guys so much?
Cesar: The reason I picked this game concept as the one to develop was primarily because it was solving one of my own pain points as a fan of video games. I’ve waited a very long time for another game like Super Castlevania IV, my favorite game in the series, but I have never found it. For Carpathian Night, I wanted to make what I envisioned would be a direct sequel or follow-up to Super Castlevania IV. I wanted to keep the things I liked about SCIV and try to improve on some of the weaker aspects of the game.
The setting and atmosphere are aspects I wanted to keep. I grew up watching a lot of horror films, including the classic Universal and Hammer monster films. One of my favorite aspects of Castlevania is how the games include many of the iconic horror film monsters, and how the game takes place in the timeless setting of Dracula’s castle. This was one aspect I did not want to change, so instead we try to further express our love for the source material within our own game, and many classic monster movie fans have already pointed out some of the references to those films we have placed throughout our playable demos.
As for the gameplay, I always loved the free-form controls of SCIV. I feel like the experience becomes more immersive the more I feel in control of my on-screen character, and I think SCIV did this better than any of the other games in the series. With the 8-way attack, air control, and crouch walk, I always felt like I was equipped to handle any challenge thrown at me, and when I failed, it always felt like it was my own fault. This is the main differentiating aspect of SCIV that we wish to retain. Carpathian Night will similarly have an 8-way base attack and free form controls.
Although the free form controls are my favorite aspect of the game, we are aware that this style of control comes with some negative consequences. The elegantly balanced difficulty of the original Castlevania is now gone, as the SCIV form of Simon has far too many options for handling the classic Castlevania style enemies, which were designed around the more restrictive and limited controls of the original title. Our goal will be to retain the freedom of the SCIV style controls but create enemies and obstacles that are more closely designed around challenging a hero with an 8-way attack. We feel like having a higher difficulty is a more natural fit for a gothic horror themed game, so we are aiming for both the classic difficulty and free-form controls.
DXP: Can you talk about some of the other inspirations for the game?
Cesar: Inspiration comes from everywhere. Of course, we take heavy inspiration not just from SCIV, but other games in the series, but we also pull in ideas from countless other sources. I get ideas from other video games, movies, comics, tabletop RPGs, boards games, music, etc. Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places.
Finally, we take heavy inspiration from the classic Dracula novel. We consider the Stoker novel to be canon in our story, so hopefully fans of the classic novel will recognize the various direct references throughout the game.
DXP: The game features two badass vampire hunters; Abbot Dorin and Irina Dracul. Can you tell us a bit about this darkness-dueling duo?
Cesar: The typical gothic horror story contains themes of Good vs Evil, Holy vs Wicked, so I wanted one playable character to represent the Holy side, and the other to represent Evil.
Abbot Dorin is the leader of a secretive monastery of warrior monks who train in the art of vampire hunting. Dorin’s skillset will revolve around prayers and miracles, calling to the heavens for aid against the wicked things of the night.
Conversely, Irina Dracul is a former student of Scholomance, school of the Devil. During her time in Scholomance, she accepted the curse of vampirism, and learned to manipulate hellfire. Irina’s skillset will revolve around her pyromancy and vampiric powers. She is an ancient vampire, hundreds of years older than her descendant, the legendary Prince Dracula.
Why has a warrior monk teamed up with Dracula’s ancestor? You will have to play Carpathian Night to find out!
DXP: Retro pixel platformers are quite popular these days. What are you hoping Carpathian Night will give players that other games don’t?
Cesar: Carpathian Night is the only direct spiritual sequel to Super Castlevania IV. Carpathian Nights takes inspiration from many sources, but it is first and foremost a tribute to Super Castlevania IV. The core of Carpathian Night is exclusively inspired by SCIV. Fans of that classic SNES title should check out Carpathian Night, as this game was made for them. The experience will simultaneously feel familiar yet completely new.
DXP: How are you feeling about the Kickstarter?
Cesar: I am definitely feeling the pre-launch anxiety. This is my first time attempting a crowdfunding campaign, so I am not sure what to expect. However, the community reception to our playable demos has been very positive so far, so I do have a positive outlook and feel confident in being able to reach our funding goal.