Bloodstained – Ritual of the Night: Demo Impressions
Tea: Mint Green Tea
Being a proud backer of Koji Igarashi’s spiritual Castlevania (wait, that term is forever tainted by a vile company, so let’s go with) Igavania successor, I was able to play the E3 demo comfortably at home without having to leave the country. With the shadow of Mighty No. 9’s disastrous release hanging over Kickstarter games now and with Bloodstained inhabiting a similar position (being developed by the creator of said series, being a 2D side-scroller, and being funded by the fans) there is a lot of doubt about whether Bloodstained will turn out the same. So it is a smart move to put this demo out now and show everyone what direction this game is headed. Is this direction set towards another glorious night of battle or will sunlight break the illusion of nostalgia all too soon?
The demo is set on the galleon Minerva and marks the backers’ first chance to play as the heroine Miriam. While it may be short, the demo features all the classic Igavania elements: Monster variety, rewarding exploration, solid combat, haunting tunes, and a boss at the end. But let’s go through this step by step. I am being strongly reminded of Aria of Sorrow/Dawn of Sorrow due to how the shard system works. Enemies have a chance of dropping a demon shard that Miriam forcefully inserts into her body, depending on the type she will acquire a new power. These can be offensive, a permanent buff to a stat, and a familiar helping spirit as the menu suggests (the demo does not include one of these though). This is very similar to the soul-system in the previously mentioned Igavania titles and it still works well and makes monster slaying rewarding, since these shards have a random percentage based chance of dropping. This does not mean that this game is a 1:1 copy of Aria of Sorrow, since there are a lot more categories of souls/shards and I am curious to see how they all implement themselves into the game.
– There is so much to love about this single image: The stained glass-look, the obvious vampiric metaphor, and the rose explosion afterwards. The dreams lives. –
Controls are standard Igavania affair and still work great. The only thing I would change is the length of the slide-move since it seems a bit short, but this is just nit-picking. The animations on Miriam are beautiful, especially her turning animations is gorgeously fluid and makes me want to keep switching my direction forever. The monsters are equally well-designed with fluid movements and classic death-animations that evoke a pleasant sense of nostalgia and triumph at the sight of a crumbling foe. The ship environment itself could have used a bit more variety, but all in all it is a great first level to get accustomed to the style of game we are dealing with. The contrast between above deck and below is reflected in the lighting as well. One enemy feels a bit out of place on the ship, but I am not sure whether this is his final location or simply a showcase of models they have already finished.
– As you can see the aesthetics of the classics are here, but I suggest looking at gameplay to experience the fluent motions –
There is, of course, a boss at the end of the level. A female sea monster type thing that is hard to describe in words. Let’s just say that it is very Igavania-like in the basic fighting style and the way you have to learn its moves etc. What I really enjoyed is the colourful nature this game has. Even though it is a dark gothic adventure, it does not shy away from bright lurid colours at special points, giving the game a very appealing aesthetic that other games sometimes lack. The music is nostalgic and promising as well with haunting environmental tunes and blood-pumping boss tracks. It makes me crave more of the soundtrack immediately and that can only be a positive sign.
– I am also a big fan of the HUD, you cannot see it here, but occasionally the crescent moon will drop blood. Details I adore. –
While this demo may be short, it came at the exact right moment. Bloodstained is looking great so far and will hopefully only improve upon this very strong basis. I felt at home with the controls and the entire layout of the game. New and exciting with the breath of nostalgia made me feel like I was finally returning to this game series I hold so dear. It is still a long way before we will set foot in an Iga-style castle again, but this first glimpse has only further invigorated my enthusiasm for this game. The night is still young and I look forward to dancing again.
Image sources in order of appearance:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYkkhHxGiuI (screenshot taken at: 13.41) (Last date of access: 26.06.2016)
- http://www.gamersglobal.de/sites/gamersglobal.de/files/news/teaser/13301/Bloodstained%20-%20Ritual%20of%20the%20Night.jpg (Last date of access: 24.06.2016)
- http://static3.gamespot.com/uploads/original/1566/15663463/3079760-gameplay_bloodstained_gs.jpg (Last date of access: 24.06.2016)