Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review – Gothic, Sidescrolling Fun

Developers: ArtPlay, DICO, WayForward Technologies

Publisher: 505 Games

Release Date: June 18th, 2019

Platforms: PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

In 2015, Koji Igarashi (Castlevania) started a Kickstarter Campaign for Bloodstained after fans pleaded for him to make a new metroidvania style game. It was a rousing success that raised over $5.5 million from backers, showing great interest. In 2018, the retro-style companion game, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was released, building more anticipation. Finally, now we have Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and it lives up to the hype.

In 19th Century England, the Alchemist’s Guild created beings called Shardbinders, humans who could absorb the powers from demonic shards and use them. The Alchemists sacrificed all but one of the shardbinders to summon demons, meant to scare Englanders into following them. However, things naturally got out of control before the church could banish the demons. Now, Gebel, a shardbinder who survived sacrifice, brought the demons back as revenge. At the same time, waking from a ten year sleep, is another shardbinder, Miriam. Miriam is tasked with saving England, all while balancing using power from the shards and keeping her humanity.

There are many ways to play and customize Miriam throughout the game. About four hours in, you can even customize her appearance upon finding a certain character. Different bosses are better handled with different weapons, and players can switch around or experiment with what works for them. The crafting is also quite intricate for those wishing to play with that. An interesting thing is how conversation varies each time with those you interact with for these systems. It helps your repeated interactions feel more natural and adds to the story, instead of just being a gameplay mechanic. As you play and explore, you can gain new abilities, opening the way up for new areas.

In exploring, you’ll find save rooms and warp rooms in addition to your typical room with loot and enemies. A boss will almost always have a save room near it, which is nice as the bosses are challenging, and death on first attempt is likely. It can be a gamble though when deciding to use a potion or look for a save room, as a death means loss of progress. Enemies are usually challenging, but fair, and the movement is so smooth and precise.

The game is absolutely beautiful to look at in its 2.5D style. The demon design and environment building are top notch. Only downsides of the game are the price of some needed objects mixed with lack of drops when you need them, and a not always clear sense of where to go next, though one could argue that encourages exploration. Exploration in general is a double edged sword, where you can have great rewards, but you can also end up using all your health items. Luckily, gameplay is so in depth that it never gets repetitive or boring.

If you’re a fan of metroidvania style games or things with a gothic vibe, this is definitely one to pick up.

8.5 / 10