It's safe to say that those hoping for more Bloodborne news are no more than dusty husks by now. The dreamy droplets have vanished from a well gone dry, barren after years of radio silence. Even the fake leakers have stopped trying. But what's that noise? The sound of roaring engines and chip-tune remixes? It's Bloodborne Kart, coming to the rescue.
If you've been within online Bloodborne circles at any point in the past two years you've probably seen one - if not all - of the lovingly made trailers of the kart racer that could. With an actual release date set for next January, I sat down with lead dev Lilith to chat about the journey from concept to launch, and enquire about the future of Bloodborne Kart once that eldritch starting light turns green.
The story of Bloodborne Kart actually starts with Bloodborne PSX, a loving recreation of the opening act of Bloodborne in a classic PlayStation style. From there, an opportunity arose for Lilith. "When I finished Bloodborne PSX I found myself in the unique situation where I had a lot of Bloodborne assets I could use to make Bloodborne Kart real!"
Bloodborne Kart, as a concept, existed two years after Bloodborne came out, rooted in a joke leak posted on Reddit by an anonymous user, making use of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate footage to show kart racing in action. From there, the meme was born. "I had made a joke video in the middle of Bloodborne PSX’s development. It was this very simple kart racer that wasn’t even technically playable - like those fake E3 demos! That got more traffic than any of my Bloodborne PSX stuff... It was huge!”
From there the path was clear for Lilith and the now three-person team behind Bloodborne Kart. Starting in 2022, they initially planned to polish up this demo and release it in a couple of months. This, of course, snowballed into a full release – packaged alongside a battle mode, to boot.
You may be reading this and wondering what the deal is with the current rise in PSX aesthetics. Bloodborne Kart does not exist in a vacuous spider – sorry, no, vacuum: there are various corners of the indie game scene embracing this look. Just glance at Signalis or the indie horror scene bubbling away with low-poly releases. For Lilith, her and others' love for the look is obvious.
“A lot of it is nostalgia. The same happened with pixel art! It started as a requirement, then it became old and gross, then it became retro. That’s just how things work, and the same is happening now with low-poly. I grew up with Armored Core and Metal Gear Solid, so there's a lot of nostalgia there.”
Those with a historical knowledge of fan games may be a tad worried about the fate of Bloodborne Kart, as a DMCA could just be around the corner for all we know. However, according to Lilith, there's been total "radio silence" from Sony on the matter.
"I couldn’t tell ya what that means. There are two interpretations. One is that they have no idea. You might think that’s ridiculous, but then again the Metroid 2 remake was very popular, was posted everywhere, and never got taken down after years of development and virality until it came out. You’d be surprised how much slips beneath a corporation's radar. The other interpretation is that Sony is looking the other way.”
Lilith did admit to having some anxiety over the possibility of a take down, but feels a sense of relief thanks to Bloodborne PSX's uncontested release not too long ago. It's worth noting that Bloodborne Kart, like Bloodborne PSX, is being released for free. You couldn't pay for it, even if you wanted to.
It's this reality that opens up what could be the most exciting thing about Bloodborne Kart. Lilith tells me that once it's released, she intends to give out the source code for both it and Bloodborne PSX to the community-at-large.
"I’m going to attempt to add DLC support, so hopefully that would open both Bloodborne PSX and Bloodborne Kart to be transformed anyway the community wants to. There are some out there talking about adding the rest of the game, which would be a huge amount of work! But people will also be able to make smaller fun stuff, like making new racers, or adding Spiderman as a playable character.”
So yes, while the hopes and prayers for a new third-person action game set in the Bloodborne universe may go unanswered, maybe the fans themselves can swoop in with a little bit of road rage to go alongside your eldritch horror. If the corporations won't give us Bloodborne, we'll make it ourselves. With speed lines and everything!