Bloodstained Ritual of the Night
Tea: No tea, only blood from a silver chalice
This is bit of an unusual article and I don’t quite know under what category to file it, so I just went with Essay, because I can’t be bothered to create a new category with just one article in it. This in return means that this will be sort of a one-off thing. So bear with me if you will:
Two weeks ago my attention was drawn to a rather unique Kickstarter. A new game by the master of Metroidvania-stlye gameplay Koji Igarashi. Bloodstained Ritual of the Night is a new game in the gothic horror style that publishers declared long dead. IGA had been thrown out by Konami, who seem to be on a roll with bad decisions recently. Being a Castlevania fan I naturally supported the project. Now, I do not want to rally up more backers, I just want to give you a small insight into my relationship with Castlevania and why I backed the project and perhaps you will check it out yourself.
Our dark journey begins in my youth and with the DS game Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow (you just have to love those subtitles, I mean Harmony of Dissonance simply sounds beautiful). Admittedly I bought the game for its Anime art style, since I was into that during this particular time. Back then I didn’t really have a feeling for genres, much less for what genre I preferred. I liked adventures to give a broad analysis. Then I delved into Dawn of Sorrow and was blown away. I felt right at home in the sinister and gothic environments. It is an example of finding something you always longed for, but could never really grasp what it truly was you missed. I had missed Castlevania. Needless to say I wasn’t very good at it. Back then I was used to games that didn’t punish you that much for failure. Pokémon just sends you back to the last Pokécenter and you are good to go again. Castlevania forced you to adjust your movements to enemy attacks while at the same time encouraging you to strike back. Bosses demand you learn their pattern so you can effectively take them down. After I had finally beaten Dawn of Sorrow I was addicted. The next two games I sunk my teeth into (there might be more of these, get used to them now while you can) were Aria of Sorrow and Harmony of Dissonance. Then I found another thing I had longed for. The art style of Castlevania. Dawn of Sorrow’s anime style might have piqued my interest, but the portray-esque art of the other titles was just far more fitting.
By the time I got to the next games I had become far more adept at fighting the hordes of minions Count Dracula had under his command. But I kept hearing about a game that outshines all the one that came after it. Symphony of the Night, the name alone like a bitter sweet dark melody. And so I went h(a)unting (too bad?) for this game and finally found it. After playing it I could finally be part of the elitists that call Symphony the best of all of them. But here comes the twist: It is not my favourite Castlevania to this day. This special spot in my heart is reserved for Castlevania Order of Ecclesia.
There are a number of things Castlevania means to me and Ecclesia just brings out the best in all of them. While Alucard might be one of the coolest characters to be playable in the series yet, I always felt that there was a lack of female heroes. Shanoa finally filled the shoes of the strong female lead. The game utilizes a new fighting system, unlike the other games that used weapons, be it just the whip or different kinds of weapons, Shanoa uses Glyphs to materialize various different weapons, but also elemental attacks or other unspeakable horrors to unleash against her foes. Sub-weapons have always been in integral part of a vampire slayer’s arsenal, but Ecclesia put a new spin on it, making every Glyph a possible and viable primary weapon, giving you huge variety and customisation options. And let’s talk about the music: Castlevania outshines most games in the soundtrack department. Gothic tunes, organs, and blood pumping battle themes are all part of Castlevania’s arsenal. Recurring themes like “Bloody Tears” or “Vampire Killer” might as well be called the classics of gaming music. But each game had its own memorable tunes and for me Ecclesia has the most. While it lacks the classic melodies it makes up for it with symphonic new ones. Listen to “Empty Tome” or “Ebony Wings” and tell me you will not be humming them afterwards.
The night, however, is dark and there cannot be only joys to be had from this banquet of madness (check out this track as well while you’re at it). Other fiends bear the title of Castlevania, yet have nothing of its soul. I am, of course, referring to the Lords of Shadow series. Not much must be said about them, this is praise of Castlevania and I do not want to waste precious lines with thieves of its title. Basically it is God of War with an eastern European mythology palette swap, nothing more must be said.
I long for another dark night of monster slaying accompanied by gothic tunes and horror art style that will chill by blood. IGA is the dark lord who can deliver this, I am sure of that. So Lord Igarashi take my humble offering. I will join your forces to leave the stinging light of day. Lead us into another glorious night of adventure. I hereby pledge my loyalty to your army of the night!