As we close out the end of the year, the Penny Blood team has put November and December’s updates all into one big post. I’m always excited to hear what the team behind Penny Blood has to say. This update has a lot for fans. We get a companion game reveal, words from the team, a project diary, and even a little Q&A as well. Check out all the details below.
Penny Blood: Hellhound Reveal
Kicking off this Penny Blood update the developers behind the game wanted to talk about their big reveal. They revealed there would be a companion game and it would be called Penny Blood: Hellhound. When it came to the reveal and this new game they had this to say:
Welcome to the November 2023 Update (Well, actually it’s December now isn’t it!). We have a very special announcement that may come as a surprise so pull up a chair, sit down, and read on!
Yukikaze/STUDIO WILDROSE x Natsume Atari proudly announces Penny Blood: Hellbound
Penny Blood Hellbound is a roguelite companion title based in the Penny Blood world. It has been developed in the indie spirit with Natsume Atari providing the core development and Studio Wildrose creating the concept and leading the overall creative direction. It features:
- Play as the Hellhounders – the rival group of baddies that try to thwart Matthew and friends at their every turn in Penny Blood.
- Roguelike gameplay where each run provides a plethora of unlocks, power-ups, and new skills as you march forward towards the final confrontation.
- The Malice System where the more blood you spill, the more currency you earn for unlocks
- Blood spilt also allows for better mobility via “blood surfing” where you can unleash stronger momentum-based attacks and skill-based upgrades
- Strategize your run well by choosing the best pair of Hellhounders out of a total 6 selectable characters that you can swap between in real-time
- Music by Yoshitaka Hirota with guest composer Noriyuki Iwadare of Lunar and Grandia fame
You can reserve your copy at the Double Kickstarter Backer kit store. There is a closed beta for backers that launches on December 14th. You will be able to find it on Steam and it features around 10 hours of gameplay. There will also be an exclusive closed beta Backer Emblem only available for those who back it during the Beta phase.
Words from Matsuzo Machida
The game’s Campaign Producer, Matsuzo Machido, wanted to speak a little about the companion game for Penny Blood. This is what was said about the companion game:
I’m sure many of you are surprised by the sudden announcement. Personally, I’m very excited now that we’ve finally reached this moment. The truth is, we’ve had the idea for a companion game from the time when we first ran the Double Kickstarter campaign. As the producer of the campaign team explained, companion games are very meaningful products that allow us to answer the passion of all the backers and fans waiting for the main game while also preventing the excitement surrounding the IP from dwindling.
However, since making a companion game requires a separate cost and would cause people to worry that we creators would become too busy with multiple projects and not be able to give them all enough attention, we didn’t include it as a stretch goal in the campaign. Looking back, I remember exactly how things were at the end of 2022. Just when we were about to give up on the idea, Natsume Atari contacted us and asked us if we’d be interested in making the roguelike game they were currently developing set within the Penny Blood IP.
The roguelike genre is one where the player goes through multiple runs in order to fully “clear” the game. While they’re different from JRPGs, they’re also popular around the world as well. It was possible for me to create a world and main characters that would fit that concept, so I gratefully accepted their offer. Once actual production began on Penny Blood: Hellbound, the director Furukawa-san as well as the rest of the development staff began working on the game with a stunning amount of passion. And now, the fact that we’re able to reveal the fruits of their labor today is a very big step for both us as well as Penny Blood.
I hope you’re all excited to experience Penny Blood: Hellbound, a roguelike game where we unleash the Hellhounders, the villains of Penny Blood.
Words from Takanori Furukawa
The Game Director at Natsume Atari, Takanori Furukawa, also had some words for the fans. He wanted to talk about the games and even had a little roadmap for the fans. This is what was said:
I’m so happy to be able to announce Penny Blood: Hellhound to you all today. This game is a companion game to Penny Blood, and the entire team has worked very hard to make it a way for every player to enjoy the amazing world and charming characters of the Penny Blood universe. With Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, we aimed to create a game that people who aren’t great at action games could still enjoy. Working on the development was a great learning experience for me, and I was also happy to see the finished product receive some praise. We also heavily focused on creating gameplay and action that feels good.
I hope to use that experience to make this game embody the true fun of a roguelike action game as much as possible. Natsume Atari has mainly focused on developing action games for some time, so we’ve always wanted to create a roguelike – a genre that’s popular all around the world. We’ve also been big fans of Machida-san for quite some time, so once the desire to create an exciting game with him grabbed our hearts, we took the liberty of contacting him. Machida-san’s clear vision and burning passion serve as great stimulation for us, and the chemical reactions based on those things have caused lots of interesting ideas to pop into our heads.
One of the most representative ideas would definitely be the “blood” motif which includes the bloodsurfing mechanic among several others. As of now, we’re convinced that we’ll be able to deliver new excitement, revolutionary elements, and a whole chain reaction of surprises to you in a “roguelike action” form. The entire team has poured our blood and hearts into this game, so we hope you’re excited about it, and we hope it moves you just as much as it’s moved us!
Penny Blood: Hellhound Roadmap
There were a few things said about the beta. You can find the details below along with a roadmap reveal as well:
The main goal of releasing the game into Closed Beta now that we have enough content is to get as much feedback as possible from our most supportive fans–backers like you! There are two ways you can provide feedback. In the main menu, you’ll find a link to a Google Form that asks some basic questions. We’ll also have a Closed Beta channel in Discord as a secondary feedback option. We’ll use your feedback to tweak the experience before we enter into Early Access sometime in February 2024. Here’s a quick look at the current roadmap:
Penny Blood Q&A
The Penny Blood team wanted to answer some questions that fans have asked and here are those.
Q1) Why create a companion game?
A1) We talked with Natsume Atari who were fans of the IP. Other Kickstarters have released companion games so that backers have a title to play while they are waiting for the main game, and we thought it was a great idea.
Q2) Why did you wait until now to announce this title?
A2) We wanted to give Natsume Atari the chance to develop the core of the game and allow backers the chance to play the game sooner rather than waiting an extended period after announcing it.
Q3) Why isn’t this a JRPG?
A3) RPGs are asset-heavy and quite expensive to produce. Besides, the main game is a JRPG, so why do the same thing twice? Natsume Atari excels at action games, so being able to present a different gameplay experience with the same IP as Penny Blood made more sense. Hopefully, it will bring new fans into the series too!
Q4) Are funds from Kickstarter being used to develop this title?
A4) No. All funds from the original Kickstarter are being used on the main game: Penny Blood. This game, Penny Blood: Hellbound, is largely being developed through the sweat equity of Natsume Atari with directorial oversight by Yukikaze/Studio Wild Rose. This is only possible through Indies helping Indies.
Q5) Who is the publisher of this?
A5) It will be Natsume Atari. It’s great to work with another developer because the terms are fair. As we continue to talk with other publishers about Penny Blood, we have been told this game and hopefully its success will be seen as another reason why Penny Blood is a viable title.
Q6) Do I get any benefit for being a backer?
A6) Penny Blood Hellbound is its own game. Since it still costs money to develop we need to ask backers to purchase it via the backer store for a discounted price. Any backer who purchases this via Backerkit will get a code to participate in the closed Backer Beta starting from December 14th.
Q7) When do non-backers get a chance to play the game?
A7) Upon receiving feedback from backers playing the closed Backer Beta, we will adjust the game and plan to release it into Early Access. Many roguelikes have highly benefited from this kind of release structure since it allows the developers to get initial feedback from the core fans and then get more feedback from non-fans as well to improve the game where possible. As we want to give all backers a value-add, the Early Access price will be slightly higher.
Penny Blood Project Diary 12/1/23
Machida provided the project diary for this month. In this Penny Blood Project Diary Machida talks about talking to publishers still and the different images the team provided. He had this to about all of this:
Good evening, everyone. Machida here, who just spilled cola on his keyboard. Despite quickly wiping it away, the liquid used its dark power to invade the insides of the mechanism, so now my keystrokes all feel really sticky. At this point, it’s a battle of whether or not I can finish writing this comment before the stickiness prevents them from moving at all. Now then, time to get back on topic and report on this month’s Penny Blood project news. We’re still negotiating things with publishers. We made a very big announcement tonight, and several publishers have told us that they’re “interested in seeing how the Penny Blood IP (Hellbound) is received,” so we believe that the quality of the companion game will greatly influence how easy it is for us to move on to the next step.
Still, we’ve reached the limit of the budget that would allow us to maintain our current production cycle, so in order to keep from giving up on Penny Blood, Studio Wild Rose is thinking about trying some other things. Some of you may be thinking “What, you’re still hiding some aces up your sleeve?!” But I intend to use the time at the end of this year to carefully plot some strategies. Now, I’d like to get into the meat of this month’s update and talk about the new art. First, we have a new monster drawn by Hanya-san: Ainsel. A cute little girl and her monstrous mother who hides behind her in the shadows. This monster appears in multiple folktales around Europe, so I had him arrange a Penny Blood version of it.
Machida went on to further explain and said this:
Also, while he was in the middle of drawing this, he also posted art of Gepetto & Cornelia from Shadow Hearts II, which confirms that Hanya-san’s either a full-fledged lolicon or moncon. (What the heck is a moncon?) Next, you may help yourself to a new image board drawn by Watanabe-san: The Castle of Schwarzes Rosen. It’s a castle somewhere in Germany that’s partly gone to ruin. Creepy yet beautiful, Matthew and his companions visit this castle after receiving intel that an equally beautiful songstress vampire has recently begun to inhabit it.
That concludes the art that we have for the main game. Lastly, we’ll be doing a special reveal of a hidden character that Kato-san drew. Her name is Clara. She is the main character of Penny Blood: Hellbound, and a member of the Hellhounders. She’s a braver and more chivalrous warrior than any man, and she’s also got a wild, flashy sense of style. She uses the magic power she was born with to manipulate malice and crush all the monsters who dare to stand in her way. According to Kato-san, she designed Clara as a character too crazy to include in the main game. While the production of Penny Blood will be slowed for a bit, we intend to keep moving forward with unwavering hope and love, so I hope you’ll all watch over us with the same amount of warmth as always. Once there’s a new development in the production of the main game, we’ll be sure to inform you all. Until then, we intend to provide you with more news on Penny Blood: Hellbound from the next update onwards.
See you all next month!
Message From Hirota-san
Hirota-san wanted to talk about writing, composing, and a couple of other things related to Penny Blood. Hirota-san had this to say:
Good evening, everyone.
All of a sudden, winter’s here! It felt like summer was a lot longer this year, so I’d been wearing light clothes the whole time…but I’m definitely cold now! Until yesterday, I had to keep the AC on to cut down on the machine heat in my studio, but now I can finally feel comfortable with it turned off. Please be careful that you don’t catch a cold. This month’s update contains a very important announcement. After developing the Walkthrough version, and struggling with the difficulties that come with having to make ends meet despite the game not immediately finding a publisher, we were approached with the idea to create a game featuring the villains of Penny Blood.
The story of this game exists in the same timeline as Penny Blood. So in terms of matching up the music to the gameplay, since it possesses a similar atmosphere, it can serve as a place to test out the type of sound I’m aiming to achieve in Penny Blood. I’m trying a lot of new things with the sound mechanics for Penny Blood, so I knew it would involve a lot of trial and error either way. This may sound strange, but honestly, when I first heard about this game, I was just happy that I might be able to use it as a way to experiment. Penny Blood: Hellbound focuses on what the villains were up to before Penny Blood, and composing songs for it actually greatly changed my image for the main game. After thoroughly reading through the design documents, I thought of someone who would be perfect as a guest composer for Penny Blood: Hellbound – Noriyuki Iwadare and reached out to him.
Games He Worked On
Hirota-san went into more detail about Noriyuki Iwadare and his work:
When you think of the games he’s worked on thus far, you may think of adventure-centric games with more “juvenile” atmospheres aimed at young people, but I felt that the speedy nature of his music as well as his own desire to try something new really stand out among the crowd. Looking back, I’ve actually known Noriyuki Iwadare since the time when I was working on Shadow Hearts. It all started when he introduced my soundtrack in a column in a game magazine that he was in charge of, despite never having met me. At the time, Shadow Hearts had just come out and wasn’t very well-known, so I remember being really happy since it was the first title I was able to work on as a main composer.
After that, we worked together on an album for an artist named Haruka Shimotsuki and were even able to go on stage together during a concert at the historic Nippon Seinenkan, before it was moved. He’s been a very good friend to me both in business and private areas in many other ways as well. Recently, we haven’t been in touch that often, but thankfully he agreed to participate in this project, so I’m very happy to be working with him again. All of a sudden, I’m nearing the culmination of my work on the soundtrack for Penny Blood: Hellbound. I’ve been learning a lot of different sound techniques at a far faster speed than when I was only working on Penny Blood, and I think I’ll be able to make use of it all in the main game as well. I am prepared to continue working on Penny Blood with the exact same amount of passion, so I hope you’ll all continue to cheer us on.
Now I know this is a lot to unpack. We received a lot of information from the fans and backers of Penny Blood. We got a companion game reveal that’s being made by the same people who worked on Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. They did a great job with that game, so I am confident we will see the same here. Penny Blood is still some ways away before it releases, but with each update, I get more hyped. I feel the Shadow Hearts spiritual successor is in very good hands.