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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review


Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is what you could call a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series. I’m a huge fan of the Metroidvania genre, but it’s more Metroid I’ve played rather than Castlevania. So stepping into Bloodstained, I knew it wasn’t going to be what I’m normally used to. That being said, how does Bloodstained stack up to the rest?


Set in a gothic 18th century England, you play as Miriam, a Shardbinder who has travelled to Arvantville. There a demonic castle has been summoned by another fellow Shardbinder Gebel, who plans to unleash demons upon the world. There’s a lot more involved but it gets a little convoluted and I don’t want to give out any spoilers.

Compared to other games in the genre, the story has a little more focus placed on it, as you’ll occasionally watch cutscenes and dialogue between the characters. The story can get a little confusing at times, but for me, it all ultimately comes down to the gameplay in these type of games.

Bloodstained Gameplay

If you’ve played any Metroidvania game, you know the drill. Explore through an open map while collecting new items/abilities in order to progress further. I’ve always loved this style of gameplay, even if there can be tedious backtracking involved. My slight problem with Bloodstained though is simply how long it took to finally start gaining new abilities required to start accessing new areas.

It’s always exciting to gain something new which unlocks new areas, but in Bloodstained, you’re already presented with a fairly large map from the start that doesn’t require new abilities for quite a while. So in a way that kind of balances out the criticism.


What I liked and disliked at the same time was how you actually need to think outside the square a bit when it comes to progressing. Usually in these games, once you gain a new ability (like double jump) you pretty much know where you need to go next. While this still occurs in Bloodstained, there were moments where it wasn’t so simple. A new ability gained might have to be used in an unconventional way to unblock a path, which I managed to do on my own maybe once or twice.

First of all, it’s great to force us to use our heads in these instances, as it creates those memorable ‘Eureka’ moments. But at the same time, some solutions tend to be fairly obscure and many will get stuck and just look up online solutions to avoid more frustration. I just think maybe a little more direction would have been nice, but without completely giving things away. It’s a pretty big map and sometimes randomly exploring around looking for what to do next can be tiresome.


As for the setting itself, it’s a very pretty one to look at. The great use of colours in each location look beautiful, and the backdrops can be stunning at times. But just because it’s nice to look at, it doesn’t mean it’s great to play through. Don’t get me wrong, Bloodstained is a very enjoyable game, but if you came here looking for some good platforming, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The level design is just dull and uninspired, and many areas feel the same but with a new coat of paint each time.

It also doesn’t help that the character’s movements are a bit too slow for my liking for a side-scrolling game. The controls don’t feel as responsive which just adds to the general slowness of it all. There are ways to speed things up later in the game, but you’ll just have to deal with it until then.

But after quite a few hours of playing, I realised that Bloodstained was never meant to be a skill-based platformer. Its main focus (and strength) was its RPG elements and combat, which is what I’ll talk about next.


Bloodstained RPG Elements & Combat

So far I’ve been a little up and down about this game so far, but Bloodstained really redeems itself with its RPG elements and combat.

Like any good RPG, you level up and become stronger through gaining XP. These elements are just as detailed as almost any proper RPG game out there. There’s a good amount of stats for your character, plenty of gear to find and craft, and many abilities/skills to unlock.

It’s the sheer amount of abilities that impressed me the most though. You get slots for each type of ability, such as passive, directional, etc. totalling 5 slots. You gain these mostly by defeating enemies, and their corresponding ability (in the form of a crystal) usually related to the enemies themselves.


From what I’ve seen, there’s a huge amount of crystals for each slot, and the amount of customisation and experimentation is pretty insane. There are some RPGs out there that don’t have this level of customisation, so to see it in this type of game is impressive.

It all just adds so much depth to what might have been just an average Metroidvania. Because of all this, plus the side quests, compendiums to fills, etc, there’s quite a bit of length to this game that outlasts most Metroidvanias out there.

The combat itself is dependant on your playstyle and weapon choice. Like with the crystal and their abilities, there’s a huge selection of weapons, all with their own pros and cons. There’s the faster but weaker daggers, and more powerful but slower great swords. Again, the range of weapons (and how many there are of each) rivals that to many full RPGs out there.

The enemies were well designed and there was a good variety of them. As you progress further you’ll notice a lot of them are just re-skinned and made more powerful, but isn’t that what so many games do anyway? I was a little letdown by the bosses as they all just felt like hack and slash affairs. Maybe that’s just how I approached them, but as long as I kept myself healed, I didn’t need to really memorise attack patterns or do anything too strategic.


Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review Summary

I’ll admit that Bloodstained did take me a little while before I finally started to really enjoy it. The level design was bland and unoriginal and the slow movements really bothered me. But it’s after a while longer I realised that’s not the main strength of this game, it’s the RPG elements and combat that really make this game shine.

The amount of effort they put into it really shows and every RPG fan should enjoy it thoroughly like I did. You’ll be constantly gaining new skills to experiment with and have many different weapon types to try out.

There’s plenty to explore and do, and while the Metroidvania elements will have you going back and forth through the areas constantly, it never really feels too repetitive because at least you’re always gaining something along the way, whether it be XP, money, or items.

Overall though, if you’re a fan of the Metroidvania genre and challenging platforming, there are better games out there. But if you love your RPGs and a bit of side-scrolling action, I would definitely recommend this game to you.

Score: 8.8/10


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