Bloodstained is the Castlevania game you've been waiting for

With the risk of being reducing, there is little to say Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night other than this: it's good. From the day this game hit Kickstarter more than four years ago, it was always clear what it was supposed to achieve. If it succeeded, it would be good. If not, it would be a failure.


So yes, Ritual of the night is good, and that is because the developers have performed their only task: the & # 39; Igavania & # 39 ;, a specific style of Castlevania game that producer Koji Igarashi worked on for just over a decade. Start with 1997 & # 39; s Symphony of the Night, Igarashi transformed the action-oriented Castlevania series in a mix of Metroid-like exploration with heavy role play elements. Two trilogies on the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS followed, generally too much acclaim.

Ritual of the night is the first game of Igarashi since he left Konami, and as the name suggests it is unabashed Symphony of the Night and his successors. The game is now shown with polygons, not pixels, but that is about the only meaningful change. Thematic, stylistic and mechanical, Ritual of the night is a Castlevania game in everything but name.

This is something good. The "Metroidvania" is now a prominent genre, especially for indie developers, and excellent games such as Hollow knight and Axiom Verge are inspired by the template. But none have ended up in the same place as Igarashi's work. The mix of gothic horror, crafting alchemy and RPG statistics gives a satisfactory lead on the exploratory feeling of these games. There is always another demon to kill, another level to reach and a better weapon to find.

Ritual of the night faces the same kind of vast interiors as Castlevania "s castles and mansions, with a surprising diversity in visual design. You start on a boat but explore mansions, cathedrals and castles and occasionally travel to new locations with different methods. But everything is interconnected and unlocking as much as possible from the single card is ultimately the most rewarding goal. As is tradition, Ritual of the night& # 39; S map screen displays the complex environments as simple blue squares that appear when you arrive in each room so that you can visualize your progress.

The level design for individual rooms has never been a special force of Igarashi Castlevania games, and that's the case with Ritual of the night. Her more about how the different parts of the world interact. This also applies to the combat system, which is fairly basic at a basic level, but acquires its depth through its enormous variety. There are a large number of weapons in this game, all with their own statistics, techniques and attributes to compete against each other. Each class has its own hidden skill that you learn more about by reading books in the area, which is a fun way to try out new items in your inventory.

Magical skills, meanwhile, are handled by a system of "shards," which fall when you kill a certain number of enemies and nestle into the body of protagonist Miriam. Again, there is a huge variety in how these forces work, whereby several fragments can be equipped at the same time. You can simultaneously use offensive or defensive support signs, full-screen magic attacks and passive statboosts. If you hold multiple copies of the same shard, their power increases while you can further upgrade them with additional items. It is a smart system that rewards multiple battles, which is essential given the number of times you go back during the reconnaissance.



It is also a pretty ridiculous conspiracy, which applies for the most part Ritual of the nightStorytelling. Despite the moody gothic horror movies, this game anime is so crazy and it doesn't matter who knows. I would say that it lands a bit too far on the word-like side of things, but most is ignorable and Miriam is a sympathetic character. I appreciate Ritual of the nightThe willingness not to take itself too seriously, from the excessive dialogue to the extensive adjustment possibilities. This is a game in which you can adjust your appearance by finding new haircuts in a bookshelf and taking them to a diabolical barber. I'm here for this.

Ritual of the night however, is not really an audiovisual party; there is a poor presentation that exposes the modest budget. Mixing sound is strangely low quality, the character models in dialogue scenes seem rushed and the overall visual style is not as refined as the pixel art Igavanias. I played the PC version where the performance was solid, but the game is apparently a little less stable on consoles. The Switch version in particular seems to be far below standard and the developers have promised to carry out repairs.

I might wait to see what those fixes turn out to be if you think about playing on the Switch, but otherwise I had a fantastic time with Ritual of the night. It delivers exactly what it needs: it feels like a legitimate Igavania that is right next to the best of it Castlevania spell.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night good. Now that you know that, it will rarely surprise you. But sometimes it is reassuring to get exactly what you want.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is now available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.

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