Gracilevania: Heart Forth, Alicia

I think the title is an instruction – ‘Let your heart go forth, Alicia!’. A bit like ‘Chin up, Alicia’, ‘Put your best foot forward, Alicia’ or ‘Flying elbow drop, Alicia!’. The game behind the instruction is a gorgeous Metroidvania sort of thing, starring a warrior-wizard lady with a whip and a collection of spells. The graphics aren’t ‘retro’ simply in the sense that they look dated. Take a look at the video, being sure not to turn off the sound during the odd voiceover, and you’ll see a side-scroller that looks and sounds as lovely as many nineties console greats. Alicia’s heart has led her to Kickstarter, of course, and with 29 days left to go there’s already just shy of $15,000 in the bank. $45,000 more to go.

This doesn’t call back to a period or genre I have any particular degree of nostalgia for, but I’m still won over. The movement looks smooth, and the jump arcs and combat timings make immediate sense. Here are some features:

Master devastating and versatile magic spells to annihilate your enemies and solve creative puzzles.

Engage in fast, agile melee combat with an enchanted wizard’s whip, over 20 special attacks and upgrades, and a wide array of mobility skills.

Adventure through a vast, intricately detailed world filled with hidden wonders and puzzles, dastardly platforming, lethal dungeons, and much, much more.

Play with powerful RPG elements that include all the gear, loot, sidequests, upgrades, crafting, and gameplay depth that make for a classic RPG experience.

Discover 5 secret fairy companions to crush, shock, freeze, and burn your enemies, or save you at your most dire moment of need.

Experience a deep and immersive story that takes place within a much larger history of events and cultures, and starring a cast of fascinating, memorable characters.

Lovely stuff. Work on the game started seven years ago and the Kickstarter is for a final full-time push, as well as payment for contributors. Developer Alonso Martin has an actual pie chart to show how the money will be spent, which is sensible and kind of adorable at the same time. More money is going on the physical rewards than on his own living expenses, which terrifies me. Do people really crave miniatures and the like so much? Actually, scratch that, Alonso is selling books with mythology, illustrations and backstory in. That’s the kind of physical reward I can understand.


  1. Caiman says:

    Well since you posted this, there’s now $55,000 in the bank! Did you mis-read the figure, or has this received a big push in the last 15 minutes? :) Looks lovely though, though the shot of the lady at the end of the trailer seemed somewhat out of place, as if she was saying “Huh? What? What are you doing here?”

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      Adam Smith says:

      Figures were correct – when I wrote it. Which was yesterday evening. An impressive night’s haul.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      This has been an amazingly successful Kickstarter. I’m very interested in seeing what the final total ends up being.

  2. Haplo says:

    But… But…

    what if Metroid is just a portmanteau of Meteor Asteroid

  3. Caiman says:

    Good luck with that, the media has been using the term for over 15 years. And yes, you do sound cynical. Perhaps a nice cup of tea?

  4. magogjack says:

    I’m not sure if you need a hug or an embrace, how about a humbrace.

  5. InternetBatman says:

    So you’re arguing that people shouldn’t use a commonly accepted term because you don’t like it? Without suggesting another one? Good luck with that.

    • The Random One says:

      If we can replace “roguelike” with “procedural death dungeon” we can find it within us to replace “metroidvania” with “designed checkpoint dungeon”.

      • Geebs says:

        I vote for Inventory Accumulation Navigation games. Ians.

        *snip* poor taste

        • Philotic Symmetrist says:

          A couple of previously suggested options were “Powerup Based Progression” or “Power-up Based Exploration” (my suggested variant to make the backtracking aspect more apparent) but I rather like Inventory Accumulation Navigation. I really don’t get “designed checkpoint dungeon” though.

          hmmm…Ability Gated Exploration Dungeon?

        • Geebs says:

          Progressionary, Inventory Gated Spelunking

        • Philotic Symmetrist says:

          Basically Ability-Coded Keys; Traversal and Re-traversal Access Conditional on Kit.

  6. hideinlight says:

    He must of misread the figures, because I saw 45k/60k a few hours earlier. Yes 5k to go, Metroidvania is the new buzzword.

  7. Ein0r says:

    If the gameplay is going to be as impressive as the art/animation, this will be a great game.

  8. DrScuttles says:

    Adding ‘vania’ to the end makes most things sound better. Rock Paper Shotgunvania, for example. Or even encephalitisvania.

    • The Random One says:

      I know a woman named Vania. I’ll start calling her Vaniavania and report back.

  9. ElDopa says:

    Don’t listen to them! They’re being mean, but one day you will have your revengeance…

  10. Shadrach says:

    This looks remarkably similar to the upcoming Owlboy, even with the cloud setting and wings in some shots. Oh well, it could just be the 16-bit retro style I guess, same inspirations.

  11. Frank says:

    Just saw it pass its goal!

    Yeah, I have no nostalgia for platformers either (except the Metroid series, which I played in maybe 2005, and this resembles not at all), but the art and world are great.

  12. silvermaan says:

    Port news is coming today. Stay tuned! To sum it up, Mac/Linux are coming, consoles will come after that based on what we can work out with platform holders and the expense of the port itself.

  13. Shodex says:

    Metroid and later Castlevania games (Symphony of the Night) are both side scrolling games where you explore around an open environment, find new things, get your ass kicked by new things, then backtrack a lot until you can kill those new things.

  14. Shodex says:

    Pseudo-retro indie platformers have lost their appeal for me, but I can’t say I wasn’t thoroughly enchanted by the art in this one.

    Also that old man death, holy fuck he exploded. I wasn’t expecting that level of gore.

  15. MM1011 says:

    Just for the education of anyone curious and not old enough to remember:

    Castlevania used to be like this and Metroid used to be like this.

    So, when Castlevania: Symphony of the Night came out, and people saw it was radically different from previous titles in the series, and the only real apt comparison was Metroid (games with proper exploration that weren’t RPGs didn’t really exist back then), the term Metroidvania was born. It was not the very first game of its kind, but it was the genre-defining title, and so the name has stuck.

    Perhaps, in another world, that genre would have seen a bigger explosion in titles and wouldn’t mostly consist of Castlevania and indie games. But, alas, we live in this world, and up until very recently the only new, mainstream, popular games to have this format were Castlevania and (one) Metroid titles.

    • Philotic Symmetrist says:

      Just to add one more point to the education. The term was also not originally used to describe the genre, but more specifically the Castlevania games that were done in the Metroid style.

      Also, SotN wasn’t really the genre-defining title but the first major adopter; the Metroidvanias didn’t add anything critical to the genre that wasn’t already present in a Metroid game.

  16. ScubaMonster says:

    First Metroid / Super Metroid, and then Symphony of the Night, pioneered and perfected this style of game. Metroid and Super Metroid are some of my all time favorite games. I really enjoyed the GBA and DS Castlevania games as well. I hope Konami keeps making traditional pixel oriented Castlevania games. Lately they’re are stuck on Lord of Shadows and that ho hum Mirror of Fate that first popped up on 3DS.

    Actually, I’d say Castlevania 2 on NES was a “Metroidvania” way before Symphony of the Night. Some people hated Castlevania 2, I rather liked it.

  17. The Random One says:

    I’ll only back this if the protagonist’s name is Alicia Hartford.

  18. Ryuuga says:

    Looks real nice.. buuut possibly a bit too fast, too difficult? Loved Symphony of the night.. which I hear people say is rather easy, for the genre. Tried Super Metroid but got stuck on some boss, just couldn’t be bothered to keep trying until I got it. I’d say I’ve gone soft, and lost the stamina to get past these difficulty spikes, but the truth is I always dropped games when I got proper stuck like that. Always something else to play..

  19. JFS says:

    Heart Forth, Connecticut?

    (damn that’d be a cool band name)

  20. squareking says:

    Awesome. Been waiting for this to hit KS (sad that I’m looking forward to KS instead of, oh, a release or demo or something. RIP pre-2013 gaming) since viewing glorious giffery on

    Now we just need Axiom Verge to step up!