Castlevania: The Lecarde Chronicles 2 is a Castlevania fan game, and its developers are working hard to capture that authentic Castlevania feel as best they can. In hiring Robert Belgrade, the original voice of Alucard in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and Douglas Rye, voice of Dracula in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, they’ve strived to get just the right sound from their voice actors. This is just one step among many they’ve taken to capture Castlevania’s look, feel, and sound, which players can see in the game’s recently-released demo.
After trying it out, Siliconera spoke with its development team to learn more about the steps they’re taking to capture the right Castlevania experience with their game.
What drew you to create your own Castlevania-styled games? After creating one with The Lecarde Chronicles, what made you want to do a sequel?
Mig Perez, Lead Developer: Castlevania has been one of my favorite games since the first game in the late 80’s. I liked the game’s atmosphere and its strong identity. It was natural for me when I started to create games to make Castlevania clones.
Before The Lecarde Chronicles, I created Haunted Castle 2 in 1998 and Haunted Castle 3 in 2001. Those games were featured to a very limited audience. I was making the fourth episode in the late 2000’s when I suffered a serious computer crash and lost all the progress.
The Lecarde Chronicles in 2013 was like a fresh start after the lost project. Lecarde Chronicles was a success compared to my other games. It has got a wide diffusion for a fan game. Many players asked me if a sequel was to be expected. The success of the first one and the will to progress made me start the development of the second episode. When Jeffrey offered to make the whole game’s OST, it was the chance to make something really unique. Some of his songs were featured in the first game and were very appreciated.
What made you seek out some of the original Castlevania voice actors for your game? What do you feel they add to the experience?
Montoya: After we had gotten a few levels into Lecarde Chronicles 2 I decided it was time to start giving voices to the characters and enemies.
We initially only planned on battle sounds and purely text for dialogue scenes. I had pitched the idea to Mig about bringing Alucard into the game for a cameo. He was unsure of the idea. I thought fans would really love having Alucard present. I thought casting Robert Belgrade (Alucard from SOTN) might sway him.
I took a chance and hunted Belgrade down. I sent him an e-mail and showed him our project. I never expected to hear back from him, but in less than a day, he had responded and offered to work on the project. I gave Mig the news and that won him over.
After giving Alucard his iconic voice, we realized that we had to now give all the other characters voices that could fit with the quality Belgrade provided us with. I started reaching out to other voice actors from the Castlevania series. Douglas Rye was also very welcoming to the idea of the project and was wonderful to work with. We have been lucky that most of the voice actors I have contacted have been familiar with (if not fans themselves) of Castlevania and excited to be a part of the project.
I also have training as an actor myself that I could lean on to voice a few of the characters. And my brother Jeremy, who is the singer in a rock band, lent us his voice for the protagonist, Efrain Lecarde.
I feel that the voice acting adds another layer of depth to the experience. The fact that we have been lucky to cast actors who have played these characters in past Castlevania games helps to give the game an authentic feel. It’s pretty hard for a Castlevania fan to hear that same deep voice from Symphony of the Night utter the words "I am Alucard." and not get excited. And after the Lords of Shadow games, which were very different from Castlevania games that came before them, I think many fans are longing to play something with a more classic Castlevania look and sound.
You’ve hinted at some of the game’s unique systems. Are you able to give us a little hint as to what those entail?
Perez: Lecarde Chronicles 1 was basically a linear action game despite the presence of some adventure elements. Lecarde Chronicles 2 is a pure adventure game that takes place in a vast open world. Lots of features have been changed to fit this category. Some of them are present in previous Castlevania games such as the rope climbing system (Castlevania Adventure) or the bad status system (Symphony of the Night and the other Metroidvanias).
There is now a true shopping system based on money and tons of objects that can be found or dropped by enemies. You can also check your map. Nevertheless, the major innovation is the Aura Blast system. Efrain can charge Holy or Von Viltheim energy (the vanquished evil family in Lecarde 1) to unleash powerful attacks or support effects.
Can you tell us anything about the foes Efrain will be running into throughout the game? About the mysterious antagonist that will be played by Douglas Rye?
Perez: France has already been featured in Bloodlines (Versailles Palace), but in a single stage. I thought of this game as an opportunity to settle the main part of the action in France, the country I live in. The main foes of this game are French noblemen who actually are demons.
One of them is a vampire. Those lesser demons revealed their true nature in order to summon a very powerful villain during a dark ritual. The character played by Douglas Rye is the result of this ritual. There are also lots of other enemies and bosses to fight. Some of them have been met in previous Castlevania games such as skeletons, flea men, axe armors, Death, etc., while others are completely new.
What thoughts go into creating the fiction and universe behind a gothic action game like this? What inspirations in history and fiction do you put into the game?
Perez: I like very much the XVII and XVIII centuries. The setting of those times are, in my opinion, very suitable for a horror/adventure atmosphere. It’s one of the reasons I‘m fond of Castlevania: Symphony of The Night. I wanted to keep the same kind of mood in my games.
My inspirations are very diversified, from occidental history to mystic elements found in famous fictional works like Dracula. Some places have really existed, such as the Auberge Rouge, which is a dungeon in the game. The character of Katharina Von Viltheim was inspired by the notorious, infamous Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Lots of situations are inspired by other non-Castlevania games. There are also references that are obtained in books like The Nine Gates of The Kingdom of Shadows.
An important aspect of a solid Castlevania game is the music. What sort of work goes into the creation of a song for The Lecarde Chronicles 2? What thoughts go into making it feel just right?
Montoya: I’ve been writing music since I was 12 years old and playing Castlevania games since I was 5. The music has always stuck with me. I don’t really have to think too hard about what will make it feel like Castlevania. It feels very natural for me to just do it. However, it’s important to me to bring my own style to the table as well and give fans something different.
If you listen to the music from CV4 (by Masonari Adachi and Taro Kudo) it has these incredible jazzy moments and really dark, atmospheric pieces. If you listen to Symphony of the Night (Michiru Yamane) she incorporates rock guitars and Bach-like compositions to weave a very unique sound together. All of these composers brought new elements to their OST while staying true to the spirit of Castlevania.
I am putting all of my effort in to bring my own style into the fold, while maintaining that Castlevania vibe. My non-Castlevania influences come from many composers. Trent Reznor, Joe Hisaishi, and Jonny Greenwood have all been big influences throughout this process, to name a few.
My process goes like this: I get a video of a level from Mig. I watch until I get inspired for a song. After I write the main song for a level, I’ll write 3 or 4 other songs using the same instruments, themes, and parameters. The end result is 5 to 6 cohesive songs per level with smooth transitions from area to area. Consistency is extremely important to me. The OST is made up of about 80% original music and 20% CV covers that I remade from the ground up.
What thoughts and inspiration went into the cover art?
Nell Fallcard, Cover Artist: Given that Symphony of the Night is my favorite game of all time, I wanted to capture the essence of the characters as best as Ayami Kojima would. I spent some time studying her body of artwork, how she create expressions and body language, then tried my best to capture that in my own depiction.
I was also heavily inspired by Ruan Jia’s colour palette, particularly the iridescence he manages in white tones, which I applied on Alucard to reinforce his unearthly, elegant essence.
What goes into giving the cover art just the right feel for a Castlevania game? For cover art in general?
Fallcard: A lot of observation and study of the original sources. In this particular case, the essence and elements are what I wanted to depict for the cover art in general. I searched for images, places, videos, and references in general that had the vibe I wanted to achieve in the final result.
I paid close attention to proportions, how shapes were constructed, which colors were predominant, and what the graphic language was used. Once I understood that, then I started sketching.
Can you tell us some of the process that went into designing the cover? In picking the layout, characters, etc.?
Fallcard: I received a briefing by Jeffrey stating the required elements in the cover: the gate, the castle, Efrain, and Alucard. Efrain is the protagonist, so he had to be most prominent element on the cover, followed by Alucard, who is an iconic character in the Castlevania series.
Once I knew this sense of hierarchy I started with three quick thumbnail-size sketches to have a sense of composition and colour palette with just abstract blocks of colour, then I asked for feedback from friends and other artists as to which composition they liked the most. Once I had a preferred one, I carried on upon completion, gathering references for the sword, the face, castles, the moon, and started detailing those abstract blocks upon completion.
Besides having to do so to get Konami’s blessing, is there any other reason why you’re giving the game away for free?
Montoya: We are hardworking people with day jobs and busy lives. We’re burning the candle at both ends to make this game happen with no budget. I believe that 2D Castlevanias are timeless and that fans will always want new games in this style. We could easily make our own original IP (and we plan to in the future), but we’re doing this to keep the CV dream alive, not for profit.
There are a lot of Castlevania-like games out there, but when it’s not CV, it’s just not the same. It’s worth donating our time and the risk for it to be Castlevania. It would be great to work with Konami to make this game available to more fans and perhaps port it to consoles, but either way, we are incredibly happy to be able to share it with fans on PC.
Perez: Charging money for a fan game without a proper licence is asking for trouble unless the company doesn’t exist anymore and the game licence hasn’t been transferred. That is not the situation with Konami and Castlevania, so we are tied to that.
Jeffrey and I are making the game for artistic reasons and to express our shared passion for the Castlevania series. We would like to give a great homage to the series and the creators who inspired us (Iga, Masahri Ueno, Michiru Yamane, etc..).
Players interested to know more about the game or who wish to speak to its developers can follow them on Twitter.