I had a long time of not enjoying a Metroidvania style game. These games can easily become repetitive, especially for the number of times you have to revisit certain places. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is what happens when you apply a good dose of passion to the genre. But, is it just entertaining for a moment or is it really worth the 15 to 19 hours of gameplay that Bloodstained offers? Let’s go and check it out!
A touch of Nostalgia
It’s almost inevitable not to mention the obvious inspiration of Castlevania in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. No wonder, given that the game comes from the hand of Koji Igarashi, the mastermind behind Castlevania. Together with Igarashi, we have the talented team of ArtPlay developers and 505 games publishing the title.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a Metroidvania with beautiful 3D background scenarios and even a couple of 2.5D scenarios. The game reminds you very much of the 90’s classics despite its style and current graphics. It’s hard not to feel a bit of nostalgia. Especially when you mix all these elements of gameplay that are already familiar to you if you are a fan of RPGs and Metroidvanias with the excellent composition that was selected to accompany to the visual section of Bloodstained.
The story of Miriam
Miriam is the main character you control during the game and whose story you will unravel. The premise of the game is neither complex nor is it shallow. Ten years ago, a dark ritual was carried out by the alchemists’ guild. They feared that the industrial revolution would strip them from their power status.
Mysticism was on the verge of death, and its alchemy along with it. These alchemists experimented with human beings, and by crystallization, they were able to control the demon’s essence. These crystals were inserted into the bodies of their victims who served as guinea pigs. These human beings who had the ability to contain crystals in their bodies were given the name of Sharbinders.
Miriam and her friend Gebel are the only lucky ones who survived this ritual, and on that occasion, the demonic attack was neutralized by the church. Now, 10 years later, the demons are back, and the church can’t contain them. And, to add tension to the plot, these demons are accompanied by a castle that was mysteriously conjured out of thin air. It’s in the hands of Miriam and her allies, Johannes, an alchemist, and an exorcist named Dominique to stop this madness. Sadly for Miriam, the main suspect behind all this new demonic mayhem is none other than her old friend, Gebel.
Fragments and more Fragments!
Bloodstained: Ritual of the night has an incredibly entertaining gameplay. It’s really easy to get lost for hours in this game. And it’s because the main mechanic of getting fragments to get new skills is really simple to understand and each ability ads a lot of fun to the experience.
Fragments are obtained when you eliminate demons. Each type of enemy has a particular crystal or fragment with a unique ability. And not all enemies release a fragment, so, if you eliminate 20 enemies of a particular class, most likely only one will give you a fragment. Furthermore, this makes navigating through an area several times not a tedious task. You don’t mind so much how repetitive eliminating several enemies of the same class can be since you have the hope of getting a fragment. The more fragments you have, the more powerful that ability becomes. These skills can be passive, direct attacks, projectiles, abilities to invoke allies, among others.
Bloodstained is synonymous of good gameplay
Apart from how much you can do with each skill, through alchemy, you can improve each of these fragments. The change between each level of improvement is quite noticeable, which is entertaining.
Many times, I spent a good amount of time getting the required elements to improve a specific skill just to see the evolution of it and try the new ability. The same goes for weapons, these can be deconstructed to build better weapons through alchemy. This system, despite being very complex, is not at all cumbersome. If you have never played an RPG or a Metroidvania style game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is an excellent option to start with.
A Gothic and mesmerizing world
The world of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is full of gloomy labs and beautifully detailed Gothic castles. The game is not exactly revolutionary in terms of its graphics section. But, its art direction really stands out and results in a game with its own character and enjoyable visual experience.
There were few instances in which the game had a couple of frame rate drops. However, during our tests with the Xbox One X, the developers sent an update that not only added a lot more details to the game but also corrected most of the technical details we experienced.
Oh! The music!
Musically, the game is a masterpiece. Namely, it goes along perfectly with the action on screen and with its style of artistic direction. I recommend using a pair of headphones to enjoy it to the fullest. Each composition gives life to the great variety of stages that the game presents. Due to this, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night undoubtedly earns many points on our list with its varied and beautiful soundtrack. From the voice performances, without counting the odd isolated case in which they are too repetitive, even the ambient sounds manage to raise the production value of the game to AAA quality standards.
Price vs Value
For Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the current price tag is $39.99. The game provides, depending on how fast you take it, about 13 to 19 hours. Yes, it’s a pretty big margin of 6 hours, but it really depends on how much you like to explore each corner full of secrets. Bloodstained has several endings. In one of my games, I found the final boss without first going through many other bosses.
When defeating said boss, I had an ending full of uncertainty and loose ends. This is the kind of flexibility that the game gives you in terms of its story. You decide how to take it and how much you want to see, both from the story and the map itself. After enjoying the game for a couple of dozen hours, it was easy to appreciate that the value of the game far exceeds its price. There is a lot of content, a lot of good narratives, and a lot of entertainment value in this title.
Variety is the key
The amount of weapons to try is amazing. The same applies to the immense number of fragments. In addition, the variety of enemies is also very good in each area, which is quite a lot. There are enemies that, they are repeated from place to place, but even when they have an additional appearance, they have new abilities that make them more challenging and in turn, new fragments to collect.
Pure Metroidvania love
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is definitely one of the best Metroidvanias I’ve played in recent years. Certainly, it’s a game with a lot of detail, which really reflects the quality for which Igarashi and his team are famous. Thus, the story of Miriam and Gebel is one with many twists that is worth your time. However, there is a couple of details you can see miles away given how predictable it can be. However, it doesn’t take away the enjoyment of the story.
The gameplay and the music are the strength of Bloodstained and make it very difficult for the player to leave the control side. On many occasions, I thought I would stop playing when I found the next saving point, and then I realized that 4 hours have passed and I still wanted a bit more of the game. Highly recommended for every fan Castlevania, the retro, the Metroidvania, and in general, for any fan of good games. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, in short, is that and much more.
If you’re interested in more reviews, check out our Rage 2 review!