Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review
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Although there are vivid glimpses of it still rattling around in my mind, it’s been too many years and way too many drugs ago for me to have an in depth memory of the Castlevania series. I do however know the importance of the series on gaming in general, a mean there’s a whole damn genre named after the series for God’s sake.

Although I had recently played Hollow Knight and Headlander to familiarize myself with the genre, it it had been a decade or more since I had played one of these titles with such an obvious Japanese influence, and honestly I thought it made the game feel more authentic. it really did. I had flashes of playing the early Castlevania games and I guess I could say that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night simply has an authentic feel to it. That’s not a coincidence however, the development was lead by  Koji “Iga” Igarashi, a 10-year veteran of the Castlevania series who worked on what many deem it’s greatest entry, Symphony of the Night. At the very least, fans loved his work enough to fork over more than $5.5 million on Kickstarter so Igarashi could make Bloodstained, a spiritual successor. That isn’t to say that authenticity tries to make up for lack of content, because there is plenty to be enjoyed here

A save point! I can finally heal these horrific wounds!

Much to the way of Castlevania, you’re put into a monster-filled castle but the game starts out with a voyage on a ship that I thought started the game off tremendously. I felt like this introduction set a very effective tone for the combat as well, letting you know right away that this isn’t a button masher. Enemies each have their own attacks that have to be dealt with accordingly and sometimes in enemy filled areas, one wrong move can set off a chain reaction that can take a chunk of your health, or lead to your death. The varied and sometimes hilarious enemies really kept me going, because if nothing else, I wanted to see the next hideous (or hideously cute) attrocity. I fought a kitty cat and then got way too excited for a grown man when I found out I could craft a cowboy hat and then wear that bitch. That’s the kind of game that Bloodstained: RotN is.

Bloodstained’s combat mechanics are deepened by a “Shard” system that acts as the game’s sub-weapon system. You’ll periodically obtain a sould from a defeated monster and that soul is encased within a crystal shard that gives you the ability to use that downed beast’s attack in battle. As you gain more of these shards, you’ll find yourself experimenting with multiple combinations of the tons of abilities you gain through the acquisition of these shards.

The scarcity of high quality items makes finding them all the more rewarding. There is also a light crafting system in the game which will allow you to craft potions, items, and even food by using ingredients you find throughout the world and by killing monsters. There is even a farmer you can bring seeds to, which he will then plant and in time yield vegetables that you can then turn into food. It was a system that I had mostly ignored…until I found out that I could craft a cowboy hat or a pirate hat for Miriam to wear and then I was hooked. By the way, that was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in a game. I couldn’t decide whether to put on the cowboy hat or the pirate hat first. This was actually a difficult decision for me, and I feel like a worse person because of it.

The trek through Bloodstained isn’t an easy one, I found myself dying quite often even on normal mode and with very sparsely available save areas, you’ll want to watch your health closely before you get your ass killed and lose a ton of progress. Honestly, this game stressed me the fuck out because of this. You see, I’m actually kind of an idiot and I continuously frollick along without a care in the world just getting bitch smacked by enemies and then suddenly I’m dead and lost like 30 minutes worth of work.

Let’s all just get real an call this title what it is, which is New Castlevania. The game brings everything wonderful about the original series into a new era and does it with an amazingly fresh coat of paint. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a great way to appreciate the influence of one of the staple series of gaming, and with it being available on Xbox Game Pass, there’s no reason not to try it.

I give it a...
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
4

Summary

Let’s all just get real an call this title what it is, which is New Castlevania. The game brings everything wonderful about the original series into a new era and does it with an amazingly fresh coat of paint. Bloodstained Ritual of the Night is a great way to appreciate the influence of one of the staple series of gaming, and with it being available on Xbox Game Pass, there’s no reason not to try it.

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Justin Reeves

I've been gaming for 30 years and even attended Full Sail University's Game Design program. Cut to...dumpster divin' for Captain's Wafers cause gawt dammit I've got the good soup.

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