Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the Kickstarter fueled spiritual successor to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, has finally released to the public, and while it had a funky launch bug, and some frustrating boss encounters, I found it to be a pretty stellar entry in the Metroidvania genre.
Head on down below to check out my full review in video or scripted formats.
“Hey now fans of Metroidvania action, Matt Heywood here to review Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, or what I like to call a frustratingly fun experience, which may or may not be due to my declining skills as a gamer.
Bloodstained has been slow cooking since 2015, but now that it’s finally here, fans of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and the Metroidvania genre in general, are in for a testy treat.
It mostly pays off on being a spiritual successor to Symphony, but it also stands alone as a solid title featuring plenty of content, exploration, and challenges. It also looks pretty great too, unless you’re playing on the Switch, which is currently experiencing some frame rate issues.
The gameplay is what makes Bloodstained so addicting, and it’s one of those games, even when you’re getting your ass handed to you by a new boss because you haven’t figured out the attack pattern yet, that makes it quite hard for your brain to put it down. It 100% has a “one more turn” mantra, so don’t play it at night, because you’ll definitely blow past your usual bed time.
The Metroidvania-style exploration is what really sucked me in, and made each of my play sessions hard to walk away from. The map is built-in a way that encourages exploring to unlock new rooms, items, and demon powers, of which Miriam, the lead character, has many. Plus, backtracking is also highly rewarded after you gain new items and abilities that allow you to reach previously closed off areas.
I just always felt like I wasn’t wasting my time by taking a flier on going down a new unexplored path, because I knew that even if it didn’t lead to my current objective, it would undoubtedly lead to some sort of surprise that would make my life easier in the game.
Combat is also dialed in, but it can be quite difficult if you lack patience. You have a host of melee and ranged attacks via standard weaponry, but you also gain magical powers from the various demon shards you can unlock by murdering monsters you encounter. These powers vary from ranged attacks to passive abilities, and they have to be used in conjunction with melee attacks for any chance of success.
This isn’t a button masher by any means, so you must always work a room full of enemies carefully, even basic ones, because one wrong move could take your health down enough to spoil any future exploration.
This is especially the case with the game’s boss fights, which at times may make you want to rage quit. Bloodstained’s bosses are no freaking joke, and you get almost no breaks from the pain they bring. The very first boss sets the tone early, and lets you know that without strategy, you have no hope in besting the big bads. The second boss is even worse, but I’ll stop short of saying the bosses are cheap, and while I do feel at times the AI was being a bit unfair, I still contend most of my deaths were due to a lack of patience and knowledge on how best to work over a particular boss’s attack pattern.
I will say that the lack of a health meter, or even a visual indicator to let gamers know if they’ve made progress on killing a boss adds to the frustration, because you are constantly left wondering if your attacks and strategies are even getting you close to taking a boss out. The bosses just eventually die, but you have no reference as to when that may happen, so it only heightens the rage when you’re getting worked by boss AI.
I also found Miriam’s jumping to be a bit clunkier than I’d like for a game that features plenty of platforming, because she feels heavy at times while making precise jumps. This can also bite you during combat segments, as poorly timed jump attacks can open you up for some serious damage, especially in rooms with tons of enemies and deadly obstacles to traverse.
If you love being challenged, and having your heart race a bit while gaming, then you will certainly appreciate the Metroidvania experience that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night offers. It feels and plays old school, but looks new school, and offers plenty of content for $40. It’s just one of those games that makes you feel like you accomplished a feat while playing, and I love that feeling.
Bloodstained gets an 8 out of 10 review score from Team EB. If it weren’t for a disastrous launch patch that broke the game for certain players, it’d probably be a point higher, but I had to factor the 1.02 patch into my overall score due to how nasty it was. Delayed games shouldn’t release with a game breaking bug period, but even with that issue, which is fixed as long as you download the patch before starting a new save, I still highly recommend picking this title up and giving its at times frustrating challenges a spin.
Thanks for watching, I’m Matt Heywood signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.”
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