“Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night” (henceforth known as BRN), spearheaded by the man responsible for the Metroidvania (sometimes called Igavania) genre, Koji Igarashi; Is a 2.5D side scrolling platformer/puzzle game with RPG elements baked in. Now that Konami has ceased making new games under Iga’s helm; will this spiritual successor to Castlevania slay all who preceded it or is it lost in the catacombs of the former glory it has set out to emulate?
BRN is the story of a girl named Miriam as she explores the castle inhabited by a close friend Gebel in hopes of putting a stop to both the ritual he plans to conduct that night as well as save him from his newfound monsteristic persona; a pact they made long ago. The story is fleshed out via interactions with characters in the hub village as well as the castle itself. Many characters, both of aid and detriment to Meriam in her quest to put an end to Gebel’s newfound madness. Those who played the retro themed prequel to this game will be interested to know a familiar character as well. Side quests and books you will find on your adventure will give much appreciated background information to the villagers as well as the backstory that sets the stage in a non invasive and rewarding way. I often found myself wondering where I’d find the next book in the castle heightening my desire to explore. Overall you will not be found left in the dark with the story unless you purposefully avoid confronting the characters and books you find along the way and it’s a very good story; something I’ve felt the Castlevania series was lacking in comparison to. B+
BRN uses orchestral music as well as employs instruments you expect in a church setting to bring forth its’ message of urgency and themed portions of the castle. It’s very reminiscent of PS1/2 era games and feels like a perfect mesh of Falcoms’ Y’s series and Konomis’ Castlevania series. It’s adrenaline pumping and a slow burning sense of wonderment at just the right times. I was often left surprised how well the music fits the theme and gameplay. I can’t honestly think of how it could have been better. I tip my hat to Michiru Yamane for creating such a beautiful OST A+
BRN uses 2.5D to give it’s world a grandness of scale while still offering the side scrolling gameplay we expected to find. On top of that the cell shading and use of both Gothic aesthetic and stained glass motif is both beautiful and appropriate. That said it does look rather dated for it’s time but then again this is what the Kickstarters for the game were both expecting and wanted. It’s hard to find fault in the fact it’s met it’s markets’ demand however as an outsider looking in, it feels lacking, like a very polished indie game masquerading as a AAA title. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it just left me wanting more polish. B
BRN Is more than the Castlevania games that Iga made in the past. While it shares many similarities to the genre he created, there is polish and growth in every aspect. As someone who willingly admits he couldn’t finish SOTN or other games of the series, I did not want to put down BRN down. While streaming my first impressions a simple 1-2 hour expected stream exceeded 3 hours as did the one following. Even now I find myself wanting to stop this review so I can play more; telling myself I’ll find something new to write about but let’s face it: I just want more. The side stories, while glorified fetch quests, feel more substantial than that. The character development is not invasive in any way and reflects the effort you put into exploring the world and it’s mechanics. Everything seems to go hand in hand with each other like a relay race you want to take your time running.
For specifics: BRN uses alchemy as a crafting system. There you can create food, ingredients, armor, and weapons, as well as dismantle them to aid in further crafting. Anything you make ends up in the store just to the left of you. Warp points are close enough to mildly frustrate but give a sense of relief when found. For a reason I’m not aware of, Miriam can sit just about anywhere you find a stool or seat. It does aid in getting more out of the custom characterization that can be found by finding a demon barber later in the game or equipping certain items. Heck you even have a place to take photo’s in the village if you can find the item to do so. Combat is very diverse with each weapon type having it’s own unique move set and special moves found in books. Magic is done via a shard system: defeating enemies has a chance to drop a shard and multiple shards will increase it’s abilities and can range from projectiles, familiars, stat boosts, and even puzzle solving aspects like the double jump and transforming into a demon.
I won’t go into every detail but I will restress the fact this is a Metroidvania on steroids. Many aspects you expect are there and evolved with a few surprises peppered in. A
BRN was a delight to play and was clearly a project of love from both it’s studio and the fans who kickstarted it. I can’t wait to try more from Iga and am glad I didn’t give up on the genre before picking this game up. It’s changed my mind on the genre completely and am thoroughly glad for it. A
Note: A digital code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
Check us out at Opencritic!
- Music is very fitting and beautiful
- A true successor to the metroidvania genre
- The story is shockingly good for a game of this style
- Playing with keyboard and mouse is abysmal (thought it has controller support)
-Graphics, while well done and appropriately fits the theme and story, feel dated despite it's polish
- Set an alarm if you don't want to loose track of time.