BLOODSTAINED: RITUAL OF THE NIGHT
By Tom "TomBsTone" Bronneberg on July 29, 2019
A few years ago, a man called Koji Igarashi came to Kickstarter with one burning desire. He left his former employer but still wanted to make a game worthy of his legacy. Due to copyright legislation, he couldn't make the game exactly in the style he was famous for, so he decided to make a entirely new game with all the best ideas he worked on in the past mixed into one. 65.000 backers thought this was a very good idea and the monetary goal he needed was truly and utterly dwarfed by the amount of funding he received...
"Now, who is this Koji Igarashi? And why do so many people pour their hard-earned money into his Kickstarter campaign?", I hear you ask? Well... have you ever heard of a little franchise called Castlevania? Mr. Igarashi is actually the mastermind behind most of these titles, and probably best know for his work on Castlevania Symphony of the Night... arguably THE best game ever made! Yes I know I'm not supposed to be writing down my own preferences but just ask some of the more serious or fanatic gamers out there... they will most likely tell you the same.
Back to the game at hand! During 18th century, England's Industrial Revolution an Alchemy Guild created Shardbinders, which were actual humans fused with demon charged crystals that gave them magic powers. Later on, the guild tried to sacrifice these Shardbinders in order to summon Demons from the depths of Hell. This backfired (surprise, surprise!), resulting in the total destruction of the guild and, with it, most of England. Only two Shardbinders remain. One of them is our main hero, Mirriam. By taking control of Mirriam and using her still growing powers, you will need to try and stop the Demons from taking over the world.
Bloodstained is a "MetroidVania-style" game. Roughly translated, this means the game is a mixture of all the best elements from Castlevania and Metroid type games. In other words, a side-scrolling, 2D, action-packed adventure with countless options, items and hidden secrets for you to explore. In Bloodstained, Mirriam starts out with a few basic tricks up her somewhat short dress, but starts growing stronger and stronger as you explore the expansive environments of the castle and its surroundings. Learning new skills and forging new weapons and apparel, and yes cooking new recipes to feed an elderly woman in a chair somewhere in the dungeon cellar... true story.
Koji has made many well know and highly acclaimed video games while working at Konami. Most of his work was spent on the Castlevania series and Bloodstained can be seen as a spiritual successor to his best work, Castlevania: Symphony of the night (SotN). As soon as you start the game you will be thrown back right into the awesome side-scrolling Castlevania-style action adventure. To be honest, it did feel a bit slower than SotN at first, but after playing for a few hours it was clear to me why. The game really lets you evolve your character during your playtime. Mirriam really gets noticeably stronger and faster as you slay demons. Mostly due to the fact you might receive Demon Shards when you slay an enemy. The game is absolutely filled with countless enemies to encounter, and all of them drop different items and powerups for Mirriam to use during her journey.
As you evolve your character and playstyle, the "MetroidVania" game type comes to life. You need a good memory or a map to write down or remember everything you encounter for backtracking and clearing areas you cannot yet reach as you travel through the game and come back to them at a later point in time. This is what makes these games great. There's always something hidden somewhere for you to find. Sometimes, this can be a bit frustrating because you can clearly see where you need to go, only to realise you still can't reach it. Just hold on to your panties and trust me when I say that you will get there eventually. There are countless weapons and gear for you to discover, farm, trade or simply craft. Numerous side quests to help you get the items you need and even more secret rooms for you to discover.
As a veteran Castlevania player, I probably own four copies of the original Symphony of the Night, as well as digital PSN copies and even the original OST on Bloodred Vinyl. So yes, you could say I'm a fan. And there a good reason for this! These games are great fun to play. And Bloodstained delivers on everything. Stunning graphics, beautiful sceneries, elaborate storytelling, great voice acting. And countless options for you to explore. The music is in a league of its own, as was its spiritual predecessor SotN , Koji used the same composers on Bloodstained, and they delivered; the music makes you feel right at home, fitting the level design perfectly, giving me goose bumps while I play.
So, with all monsters slain and every shard and secret collected, I would just like to say: Thank you Mr. Koji Igarashi. Thank you for making this game and giving the current generation of gamers what you gave my generation back in 1997, which is a game to remember and to be played over and over again for many years to come.