Bloodstained: A Classic With a New Paint Job
Bloodstained: Symphony of the Night, I mean. . .Castlevania: Ritual of the Night.
Okay, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is nearly identical to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Like, legitimately, it was kickstarted by fans to be precisely like C:SOTN. Now, I don’t know much about other Castlevania games as I’m only familiar with Symphony of the Night.
If it wasn’t for Yahtzee, I wouldn’t know that every feature of Bloodstained is almost directly ripped from other Castlevania titles to make a definitive game combining all the best features of each. With the crafting system, you gain extra spells and abilities by absorbing them from demons. Also, villagers in the starting area can give you side quests. So is Bloodstained better than Symphony of the Night? Let’s take a look.
An aspect that appears often when discussing Symphony of the Night is how fucking fast you become when you backstep. My god, do you MOVE when you backstep. So much so, it’s 100 percent necessary to spam in speed runs.
Also, the map opens up when you get abilities like the double jump, which is why it lends its name to Metroidvania’s, like Hollow Knight. Symphony of the Night was very influential in this sense and many games take influence from it.
When Dark Souls became a huge fucking deal and many folks had to come to grips with the fact that they were terrible at video games, the indie sphere of developers decided it was time to crank the difficulty up too. Salt and Sanctuary, Dead Cells, Hollow Knight, and many other games came from the want for more difficult titles for gamers to test their skills. With a resurgence of Metroidvania interest, it was only a matter of time before someone just made Symphony of the night V2.
Bloodstained starts you on a ship where you come to grips quickly with the attack button, the spell button, the backstep, and everything else you have in your arsenal. Anyone who’s played metroidvania’s before is going to feel as comfortable as ever. Instead of a more fast-paced, combo style gameplay, it’s almost exactly as slow and clunky feeling as an old Castlevania title.
The greatswords swing with such lag on the end of the animation, you think Miriam has two broken arms. Which leads me into the character, Miriam, being a classic anime high school girl with her chest popping out and her skirt so short you’d be kicked out of the church youth group for suggesting this as a wholesome demon-killing simulator.
After an introductory boss fight which should teach you that everything FUCKING HURTS, the game teaches you quickly its less about dodging every attack because most of them are impossible to evade. You move like a snail and it’s impossible to hide from the full-screen laser beams. The developers obviously want you to focus more on healing up between attacks. Maybe I just haven’t played Symphony of the Night in a while, but I don’t remember having as much trouble with it as I did with Bloodstained. Some of the fights were so rough I’d actually have to do some grinding or just fuck off and explore another area for the time being.
Bloodstained bothered me a bit with its boss fights and enemy layouts. It just seemed like a cluster fuck that I was always ill-prepared for. Nothing like walking into an unexplored area for the first time and being gangbanged by demons with BO so strong, it damages you for being in the general vicinity.
I can’t remember how many times I died because you can’t bounce off enemies, you just go through them. So you can get stuck trying to run out and take too much damage. Not to mention the fact that some attacks don’t even seem to be dodge-able. I was pinned to the wall by a couple of bosses, unable to fight them.
Maybe if I’d used the backstep, but I never felt like there was a situation that using it would have put me in a better position. No boss was ever like, “SHIT! She backstepped! Guess I’ll wait for her to attack me now instead of continuing to slide from one side of the room to the other dealing a metric fuck ton of damage along the way.”
I guess I was just better at Hollow Knight because I had to be fast. The slower gameplay of Bloodstained only made me want to walk up to bosses and break my arms repeatedly swinging at them.
Now, don’t get the impression that I don’t recommend Bloodstained, by the way. It’s a mertoidvania and I love them. I’m currently still playing the new game+, and will most likely play another after that with the nightmare mode activated.
It’s a game that will take some time to beat, so if you enjoy a challenge, you’ll enjoy it. I love sitting down and putting hours into a GOOD game. I never see the amount of time I’ve played a game as a waste unless it was truly awful.
I see the 18+ hours in to Bloodstained as a challenge to myself. “I can push that number higher.” I’ll get the achievements for it and be happy when it’s over 25 hours. It helps solidify, in my mind, that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to games. I play them for hours and then want to share my opinions with others who might not want to take the time to know if they’d even like the adventure. Even if you don’t like metroidvania’s, you’ll probably like Bloodstained. It’s got some nice RPG elements and enough variety with weapons and spell shards that you can easily find a way to have fun playing it. With that being said, consider this sentence a spoiler warning.
The story itself is meh. It did catch me a bit off guard, but only because I barely followed or cared enough in the first place. I wasn’t here for the story, I was here to fuck a castle up with my great-sword. I’m sure eventually I’ll 100% it. but I’ve beaten almost every boss. There’s one I remember I didn’t defeat, but I beat the final shit-show of a boss fairly easily.
It took two tries but her second form fell in one go. I do wish they didn’t game over you the first time you beat Gebel without cutting the demon out of the moon. Instead, youjust get a “bad ending” and pickup at the last save. It’s basically the same concept, but game over makes you feel like you lost and, uh, news flash, I didn’t lose, I just didn’t blow up the fucking castle.
I don’t understand how Gebel dying fucks the whole timeline up. Does it let the demon escape? Then what? The castle just stays and the book that was so important disappears forever? I guess I’m just confused as to why he was so important that the game would say “game over” even when he dies anyway. I guess it just bothers me a little that you would call my triumphant tea bag a game over.
Let’s wrap this up. I could probably say more about Bloodstained, but I feel like what I’ve done is so much of a tangled mess, you can barely tell what the game is about. Or how it’s played. Or if I even recommend it. But, I’ll end with answering one of those, I do recommend picking up Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Let it be an introduction into the indie Metroidvania’s for you babies that won’t pick up Hollow Knight because “it’s too hard”. Rejoice. You can finally play something you can beat!