Published on July 2nd, 2019 | by Zorbz
REVIEW – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Koji Igarashi is back with another Castleva… Wait a minute; I could have sworn this was a Castlevania game. Scratch that, he’s back with his new franchise ‘Bloodstained’ which if you’ve played any previous 2D side scrolling Castlevania games of old, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time. This game is the spiritual successor to the Playstation and Saturns ‘Symphony of the night’ but how does it compare?
Concept: What do you know; another castle filled with demons has mysteriously appeared out of thin air (honestly it’s a bad ass premise). This is where Miriam comes in, an orphan cursed by an alchemist which left her body to slowly crystallize over time as well as having a unique ability to take on the powers of demons via crystal shards they leave behind once they’re destroyed. With her specific skill set, Miriam must investigate the castle and bring an end to the demons invading and save humanity. The story is similar in premise to previous Castlevania games, but it still never gets old. Now sporting some good voice acting it really shines through and makes the story more of just an afterthought with some actual intrigue built in.
Graphics: When footage of Bloodstained ROTN was first shown running years ago, a lot of fans were very disappointed and stated the game looked very lackluster. Fortunately the team heard these criticisms and revamped a lot of the character models, environments and effects to bring the game up to the level we would expect from an Igarashi release. Bloodstained, unlike its pseudo predecessors is styled in a 2.5D artwork as opposed to the 2D spritework we have become accustomed to, whilst still maintaining the side scrolling map/level design of old. Characters are detailed well with enemies especially sporting quite a unique and gruesome design, from giant dragons to creatures covered in what looks like oil, to giant horned cats and things I couldn’t even put in to words, there’s a wide variety of nasties to admire…and destroy. Locations are varied, which doesn’t make much sense as they are set in a castle, but who cares, videogames. You’ll go from the typical Gothic architecture, underground caves and ice caverns to massive towers and libraries, all with their own flair and colour palette, breaking up the monotony of design that could ensue if it was purely just the same locations slightly altered. Whilst the visuals aren’t ‘next gen’ level, they do hold up quite well with a lot of detail put in with multiple layered backgrounds and parallax scrolling, with the only downside being that some of these layers can clash, making it hard to decipher what is something you can interact with or something that is purely aesthetic. This however is not that much of a detriment to the experience though.
Gameplay: In my opinion, Igarashi is one of the greats in videogames and created one of my favourite games of all time ‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’. After he left Konami, many developers had tried to take on his style of gameplay he made famous in the Castlevania franchise, but none of them truly reached the same level Symphony of the Night did and always felt like something was missing. Fans of SOTN, I’m happy to say that damn this game scratches that itch you’ve been craving. There’s a whole massive map to uncover, weapons/armour/accessories to find/buy/craft, loot to collect, secrets to be found, backtracking with new areas opened by new abilities gained, bosses galore and a whole lot more. Combine this with Miriam’s countless abilities she’s able to unlock by absorbing the shards of demons and there’s so much playing around to find the style that works and feels best to you and damn does it feel good when you find the right combo.
The mechanics feel tight and responsive with the difficulty being right in the sweet spot of challenging enough without making you feel weak. All this praise being said though, there is quite a bit of slowdown in areas of the game as well as some weird screen tearing and the occasional glitch. It was never enough to hinder my gameplay but it is quite noticeable. Hopefully these issues will be patched out though over time.
Sound: Music has always been an important part of Igarashi’s games and Bloodstained makes no exception with an amazing soundtrack to suit all environments throughout. Whilst it’s not Symphony of the Night level of awesome, it still has some really catchy tunes that’ll stick around in your head long after play. Combine this with some good ol voice acting and sound effects and you’ve got a hell of a package.
Awesomeness: I didn’t think I would get another experience like Symphony of the night or Aria of Sorrow, but boy was I wrong. Bloodstained has filled that void that has been missing and not only has it met my expectations; it has exceeded them in every way. There’s so much here to warrant multiple replays, with multiple endings, secrets to uncover and unique weapon and ability combos to use, you’ll always have a great time jumping in. The game also clocked in at close to 20hours for me to complete which is that perfect sweet spot of not over doing it and not overly too quickly. This is one of those truly special games that I could easily pop back into over the years to play again and again and it would never get old
Final word: Bloodstained: Ritual of the night for me hits the spot and has brought back the IGAvania games we’ve all been missing now that the Castlevania franchise lays dormant. Here’s hoping sales reflect how amazing this game really is and we get sequels in the future. If you’ve never played a game of this style, please do yourself a favour and grab both Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, you won’t be disappointed.
Out of 5 Bugs!