Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Delivers a Bloody Good Time

Kickstarter games have had a sullied reputation for the past couple of years with games under-performing or under delivering, which only hurts the fans that contributed to them. Fortunately, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night looks to deliver on its promise, and after spending some time with it at NYCC, I can safely say there’s very little to worry about.

The game greets you with gorgeous visuals. Our main protagonist Miriam is a 2.5d or 3d model most akin to what you’d see in Guilty Gear Xrd but placed in a highly-detailed 2d backdrop that feels lived in and treacherous. You can only move in a 2d system but the world around you is convincingly 3d. This is what a Castlevania spiritual successor should look like. It almost took me by surprise when I first picked up the controller; I was expecting that wonderful Koji Igarashi touch, but I was not expecting it to look so slick graphically. From the details on Miriam’s outfit to the blood splatter effects, Bloodstained feels ready for prime time, and it’s not looking to hold back.

Coordinated Symphony

Although I only had a few moments with the game, I got to explore some of the movement and combat mechanics. Miriam has a back dash which I found pretty useful when there were multiples enemies on screen. She, of course, has a double jump which helps you close the gap between long distances. The weapon I mainly used was a sword which only had 1 attack style but could perform a finishing move or a heavy slash after a couple of hits. I’m not sure if there is a parry system in the game as I almost died trying to deflect hits with my sword.

Throughout the demo, Miriam learns special moves and spells such as a flaming projectile, a severed head that floats by you attacking nearby enemies, and spears to throw at your enemies. The double jump was also a special move I unlocked, so perhaps the parry comes later. The way she discovers her special moves is a visually striking one, she gets pierced by multiple shards of glass as it fills the screen letting you know a new skill has been unlocked. The game also feels buttery smooth, as dodging enemies and jumping from platform to platform felt intuitive and responsive. I felt like a bad-ass slaying demons left and right, and you will too.

Right before the end of the demo, Miriam encounters a boss which can only be described as “bloody Mary Poppins.” She has a long, scarlet dress and arrives with an umbrella of the same color. She’s not friendly at all. She can make it rain blood, conjures up multiple umbrellas, and is wicked fast. I made quick work of her though, thanks to the abundance of spears and flame projectiles, but there were a couple of close calls. After defeating this scarlet, bloodstained witch, the demo ultimately came to a close, and I found myself missing the game and wanting to play again. 

Await the Night

Bloodstained left quite an impression on me, and what it impresses me more is the fact that I came into it with fairly high expectations. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait too long to play more of it. The fluidity of the controls combined with its striking visuals made Bloodstained a bloody good time. The music used in the game is fittingly Gothic and gives the game a classic feel. I imagine a lot of fans will enjoy listening to the soundtrack while they slash their way through this hellish yet beautiful world. Overall, the game borrows a lot from it’s past but is moving in a modern and welcome direction.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is being published by 505 Games and will launch on PC, PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One in 2018.

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