By Joseph Leray
If you took Little Red Riding Hood, gave her a katana, and dropped her in a village in Edo-era Japan, you’d have a rough approximation of “Akaneiro: Demon Hunter,” a gorgeous new action-RPG by American McGee’s Spicy Horse studio.
The game’s Kickstarter was funded yesterday, but “Akaneiro” is already fully playable in your browser from places like Kongregate or Spicy Horse’s own site. Akaneiro has also been Greenlit for distribution on Steam. The game is, for all intents and purposes, finished: there’s a full-featured, stable game, with all of its maps, characters, items, and free-to-play monetization systems in place.
While the game is free-to-play, players can use real money to buy karma shards, Akaneiro’s in-game currency. Karma is used to buy items and unlock new maps, but there is a one-time, $20 buy-it-all option that unlocks the entire game at once.
The successful Kickstarter campaign was designed to extend the development and support cycle for the game, according to McGee: the “Akaneiro” team “came to the natural end of their development cycle on that project,” he told Kotaku. “The Kickstarter campaign would allow them to extend that.”
“We’d like to take the game further and make it better,” McGee explains.
The Kickstarter will be used to fund development on Linux and iOS ports, as well as cross-platform co-op multiplayer and a new crafting system for all version of “Akaneiro.” New items, quests, dungeons, equipment, modes, and character skills are also in the pipeline.
Akaneiro has a gorgeous visual style and a great setting, but it also stands out as an interesting business experiment. The free-to-play model, once relegated to exploitative mobile games, is gaining ground on more traditional gaming platforms, and “Akaneiro” joins high-profile games like “Tribes: Ascend” and “PlanetSide 2” as examples of the model in full-featured games.
It’s also the only game I can think of that used Kickstarter to extend development for a game that was basically already finished. Most indie upstarts use Kickstarter for an initial injection of cash, but “Akaneiro” would have been released even if the Kickstarter had failed. It may be that backers felt more comfortable putting money towards new features and improvements toward a finished game than they would be supporting one that needs to be built from scratch.