What is “Bloodstained?”
Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night is a modern ode to the classic Castlevania games. Following a young woman with the ability to absorb the powers of various demons and monsters. Desperate to stop the demonic takeover of a small village overlooked by a large castle, the main character enters the demonic castle in a quest to stop the nefarious Gebel.
The Win Condition
For the purpose of this blog I am considering reaching any ending. As with Momodora 4, the last game we covered on this blog, Bloodstained has multiple ending one of which is clearly the “good” or “true” endings while the others are “bad endings. As was discussed in the aforementioned blog, this is something I am not of fan of in games. Multiple endings is all well and good but should all be equally valid in my opinion. Anyways, in our case we only reached the “bad” ending of “Bloodstained” and called that good enough for the purpose of this blog.
Bloodstained blends a classic “Castlevania” aesthetic with modern RPG elements and metroidvania exploration. As you navigate through the treacherous castle you will learn new skills by absorbing “shards” which are occasionally dropped by enemies. This is a great game system that really helps make “Bloodstained” stand out. Adding a motivation to actually take the time and fight the enemies rather than avoid them since they may offer new abilities. Additionally it grants a reasonable explanation as to why the player is learning these new abilities. Too frequently in RPGs the explanation for acquiring new skills is simply “you have become a more experienced fighter.” Which is typically accepted as the norm with games but frankly doesn’t make much sense when you are learning abilities like shooting fire… Anyways now that I have sufficiently strayed from the point, I really like the shard system in this game. In addition to the randomly dropped shards from enemies you will also learn necessary abilities for navigation by slaying bosses. In typical Metroidvania fashion the abilities earned from boss fights typically will allow you to navigate to a new area of the map. A well designed Metroidvania game should always clearly point the player to their next objective by granting abilities to access an area that was previously passed on the way to the most recent boss fight. This is unfortunately one of the biggest problems with “Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night.” While the game does indeed direct the player in this fashion from time to time, it also will frequently leave the player without indication of the last objective. In one notable instance I found myself lost for 5 hours because the game failed to hint that I had to talk to a previous insignificant librarian to create a license. This poor directing is by far my biggest gripe with the game.
Now that I have sufficiently explained my problem with the game, let me talk about some of the things this game does great. The art for the game is absolutely gorgeous. I adore the way this game looks, I could watch the game for hours and not have any complaints with the art. In addition to being artfully created, the setting, character and monster design is superb. With tons of unique and fascinating atrocities to fight, I was always excited to see the next monster. In addition to the beautiful art and theming, the combat of “Bloodstained” is fantastic. Every combat encounter must be taken deliberately as your success or failure will be dependent on your intelligent maneuvering. Proper spacing by knowing your weapons range and backstepping to avoid enemy attacks is necessary for progression. Additionally each weapon feels unique with different attack ranges, speeds, and animations. Forcing the player to truly understand the weapons they are using.
“Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night” does a lot of things extremely well. With beautiful art, engaging combat, and a unique progression system in “shards.” Unfortunately the game is held back by its poor directing of the player and its insistence on having “bad” and “good” ending. That being said “Bloodstained” is still a game worthy of your time and as such is going fairly high on my horror list. Clocking in at a respectable third position, “Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night” only sits below the likes of “Hellblade” and “Mortal Kombat X”. “Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night” sits immediately above “Demon’s Tilt.”
Time to Beat: 12 hours 19 minutes 42 seconds. Platform: Xbox One.
How to Play “Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night?”
“Bloodstained” is currently available on Xbox Game Pass. Additionally it is available for purchase on the Xbox Marketplace.
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