I am proud to report that I completed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on Saturday. That’s quite the achievement, as I rarely finish Medtroidvania games. Just like when I play first person dungeon crawlers, I tend to have fun for a while until my terrible sense of direction strikes. Sooner or later I get lost in said title’s digital labyrinth – forcing me to eventually give up in frustration.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Bloodstained is the latest game from long-time Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi. The Japanese video game maker parted ways with Konami, years ago, as the company had no plans to make any new Dracula slaying titles for the foreseeable future. Apparently the management at Konami don’t think that 2D action RPGs are profitable. Koji proved them wrong with a successful Kickstarter campaign and positive sales figures, once Bloodstained was released.
In this horror themed adventure, which feels a lot like the excellent Castlevanias I played on the Nintendo DS, players control a cute waifu named Miriam. In my opinion she is a very attractive lady. Should you disagree fear not, as it’s possible to change her default appearance once you locate the cursed barber shop that lies hidden in the castle Miriam is exploring. Said castle is teeming with monsters. Thankfully for the protagonist she is a skilled fighter who grows stronger with each foe she vanquishes.
One way that Miriam increases her might is by upgrading her gear. Better weapons/accessories can be picked up from slain enemies, purchased at the shop or crafted using the materials Miriam finds on her travels. The arsenal Miriam can wield include various types of blades, whips, firearms and footwear. If physical combat isn’t your thing worry not, as Miriam can command magic too. The creatures she kills sometimes drop shards, which allow Miriam to mimic the deceased’s powers. My favourite ability transforms Miriam into a bunny girl, who is capable of delivering devastating Chun-Li kicks and Super Mario style head stomps.
It took me around twelve hours to complete Bloodstained’s story. My time with the game is far from over however. At the time of writing I still have loads of optional quests to complete, secret bosses to beat and stat boosting meals to cook. On the horizon there is also a bunch of free DLC to look forward to – including new playable characters. The first character that has been announced is a badass samurai who is voiced by David Hayter (of Metal Gear Solid fame). A co-op mode has also been promised, although I don’t care about that as I have no friends.
My rating for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is five stars. It’s by far the best game I have played this year. Be aware though that my score is based solely on how much fun I had with the game. If I factored other things into the equation I would have to downgrade that assessment slightly. Gameplay wise Bloodstained has few flaws, but on the technical side of things it suffers from the occasional overly long load time. It’s something I can live with on the PS4 version of the game, but I hear the performance is even worse on the Switch port. With that in mind, it’s probably for the best that the Vita edition got scrapped. I can only imagine how much it would have chugged, had it ever seen the light of day.