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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night review
by DJSharpeCheddar

Much better than I expected, especially given the high-profile failure of its Kickstarted contemporary, Mighty No. 9.  Delivers on its promise to satisfy that old Symphony of the Night itch, and puts its budget on the screen in the form of some suprisingly strong 3D graphics. Falters in the storyline/cutscenes/voice acting department, but if we're being honest with ourselves, those were never the older Castlevanias strong points, either. You can't deny they put a lot of effort into it, at least.

Very strong return to form, and hopefully the start of a bonafide new series.

8/10
Thumbs Up

PlayStation 4 version
Played through main game on Normal difficulty, completed 100%, unlocked Platinum trophy

Other reviews5

Evokes Symphony of the Night really well. Some of the secrets can be incredibly obtuse, which would be one thing if they didn't smack you over the head with how you miss the true ending if you didn't get all the secrets. And unfortunately some of the late game areas feel really disconnected from the rest of the castle. It makes sense for the first area as a tutorial but not so much

Some of the bosses are great. The tower of twin dragons and the coin guy at the very end were cool and what I expect from this style of game. The more 1:1 fights like Zangetsu and even Gebel, plus other spoilery ones, are just grinds - high HP and high damage output. Teleport back to the town (you do that a lot and it's not interesting, specifically because of how out of the way it is), buy your arbitrarily limited supply of potions and elixirs (why are these two types of items the only ones with a limit), guzzle them down as you whittle down their health. It's just not an interesting fight nor does it really "test" anything I've learned throughout the game.

So much "stuff." Tons of crafting. There's even a sidequest chain that has you making food. Which ok, it's kind of a tutorial. Except the second recipe you have to make involves ingredients that you ALSO have to craft, each level requiring tons of ingredients that aren't common so require either grinding or just buying them, which is boring. And the reward is nothing. There are sidequests that involve just killing a certain number of monsters. Weapons and armor can be crafted but are rarely better than weapons and armor you find. You can upgrade your shards - sort of a replacement for ability upgrades but also Castlevania type secondary weapons - but also collecting more than one of each type makes them stronger, which isn't explained (each shard has a grade AND a rank AND familiars have a level??), even though you're kind of encouraged to sell them. Some ability shards let you upgrade the ability - longer teleportation, higher jump, etc., but it requires you to lose that ability or grind and, again, it's not explained. There are so many weapon types, some with special moves and even unique weapons that have their OWN special moves, that each do a different "type" of damage (slashing, thrusting, etc.) plus there are element types (fire, ice, dark, light, etc.) plus all kinds of status effects. And yet again, it's very sparsely explained and not worth digging for. I get they're encouraging you to explore and experiment but there's just too much.

Right now it's an overall solid Castlevania. Would have been a great one had it pared back the fluff, leaned into the big monstrous boss fights, toned down the bad melodrama story, and improved some of the obtuseness of SotN, or at least made the obtuse secrets more optional. It still does a good job evoking SotN, better than a lot of other Castlevanias, but comes with its own new set of problems, made even worse by how superfluous they are.
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Bloodstained delivers on its Kickstarter promises like no other game has before. Setting out to be the Castlevania game Konami refuses to make and knocking it out of the park.
4/5
«Can’t stop playing»
8/10
+ Classic Metroidvania Design
+ Variety in shard system
+ Provides strong sense of direction
+ Snappy controls

- 2.5D visuals sometimes feel cheap
- Perhaps a little too similar to it's inspiration
- Too many competing systems added unnecessary fluff
Graphics pretty bad, architecture is fine, but characters are really bad, especially in a cutscenes, looks very outdates. Gameplay feels outdated as well, like old castlevania, yes, but it became very boring after an hour. Controls are not tight and it feels like there is a big input lag(PS4 pro).