Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Game Review

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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Bloodstained is a Metroid-Vania style game developed by Wayforward, Inti Creates, and Art Play.  It is published by 505 games. The game was kickstarted in 2015 after Koji Igarashi creator of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night left Konami in 2014.  At the time it had the highest funding of any kickstarted project at 5.5 million dollars and 4 years later it has finally been released.   

So, how is it?

Bloodstained is pretty great.  The game has great character design if you are a fan of the anime aesthetic.  The characters all have elaborate clothes that are striking and well designed.  The levels are familiar if you have ever played a Castlevania game; which makes sense knowing who produced the game.  Winding towers, gargoyle filled cathedrals, damaged bell towers, and a destroyed village give it that early 18th century feel.  The enemy design is also very similar to Castlevania (flying heads trying to knock you off platforms, big knights in armor slowly walking to wack you with a sword, a giant dog head, monsters throwing bones, and frogs poisoning you as you desperately try to hit them.)

Bosses look pretty cool as well and the humanoid enemies have very inspired designs.  Like the boss you get the double jump from, who looks great with fire shooting out of his back like some evil metallic peacock.  The bigger enemies are kind of boring looking.  The dragon boss isn’t very interesting (just looks like a dragon from any other game). The game is a Castlevania game in all but name really.  Which isn’t a bad thing.

This is a Metroidvania game so it has a huge map and areas you cannot reach unless you get the required skills and go back to them to progress the story.  Speaking of the story… it’s ok.  You play as Miriam who is off to stop her evil friend Gebel from destroying the world.  The story did not grab me at all but most of the time I am not here for the story. I am here for gameplay and this game plays beautifully.  The controls are tight and responsive.  Each weapon type feels unique. From the fast boots to the great swords that are slow as hell, to the spears for that long-distance poke, each one handles and plays differently. When you kill these monsters, you have a chance to get a shard from them. Over the course of the game, you collect shards which you can equip to give Miriam different abilities.  These shards diversify the gameplay.  You can get surrounded by portraits of Kickstarter backers that protect you and deal damage to the enemy,  use arrows that hit the enemy from long range, there are tentacle hands, a giant flail, lighting, pillars of fire, and the list goes on.  The player is given a wealth of options to play around with.  There are also light customization options in the game which lets you customize Miriam in different ways.  You can give her different hats, masks, hairstyles, color options for her dress, and even change eye and skin colors (though I wish there was an option to toggle off masks or hats).

The game is great if you can get past the basic story.  If you love Metroid-vania style games I would say it is a definite must-buy.  I am feeling a hard 8 to a light 9 on this one.

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