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Posted on Jun 29th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (Disposed Hero)
Posted under Review, Bloodstained, Castlevania, Kickstarter, Igarashi


Like most fans of the Castlevania series, Symphony of the Night in particular, I am incredibly excited for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and even contributed to the Kickstarter fund for the game a couple of years ago.  As a nice bonus to Kickstarter backers, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is the fulfillment of a stretch goal promising an 8-bit style game, and it is now available to download for Kickstarter backers and available to purchase for everyone else.  This was a nice surprise for me, as I was unaware (or had simply forgotten) that an 8-bit game was in the works.  When I received an update from the game's Kickstarter informing me that Curse of the Moon was available, I did not hesitate to try it out.



Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was developed by Inti Creates and released in May 2018.  Being a prequel, Curse of the Moon takes place before and helps set up the story for Ritual of the Night.  Playing as Zangetsu, a demon slayer, you must defeat the great demon that has once again emerged.  It's clear that the story here was mostly an afterthought, as it was for many games from the 8-bit era, so don't go into it expecting much.

Curse of the Moon plays similarly to the classic NES Castlevania titles, feeling like a spiritual successor to Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse in particular.  The gameplay is a bit more quick and fluid than in those games however, giving it a bit more of a Ninja Gaiden feel at times, but at its core it is very much like a Castlevania game.  Many staples of the series return, such as breakable candles that contain items and subweapons, and many enemy designs that feel like they were lifted straight out of the earlier series, such as enemies that mimic the classic Medusa Heads and Bone Pillars.


Defeating the end boss of each of the first three stages unlocks a companion that will accompany Zangetsu on his quest, although you can choose to leave them behind if you wish.  These companions include Miriam, a more agile character that wields a whip and can slide, Alfred, an alchemist who can use magic spells (think Sypha), and Gebel, who can transform into a bat and also uses bats as a weapon (think Alucard).  Each character also has their own unique subweapons that cannot be used by anyone else.  Characters can be switched on the fly using the shoulder buttons, and each has their own independent health bar. 

There is also a fair bit of replay value.  While there are not alternate paths that take you to different levels entirely like in Castlevania III or Rondo of Blood, there are alternate paths within the levels themselves that usually require the alternate characters' special skills to access.  There are also multiple endings depending on whether you recruit these allies or not.  Although certain bosses and sections of the game toward the end can be quite difficult, the game as a whole is significantly easier than the classic titles in the series, although a special Nightmare difficulty mode can be unlocked after completing the game for those who want an extra challenge.

Seeing as this is a game that was developed with the 8-bit days in mind, you should already have a good idea of the fidelity of the graphics and audio.  That being said, the game still looks and sounds great for what it is.  Some liberties were taken with the visuals, particularly with the bosses and some effects, so some things will appear more intricate and detailed than what one would expect from an 8-bit title.  The soundtrack screams classic Castlevania and lives up to the series' legacy of having excellent music.


Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is an easy recommendation for anybody who loves retro games, particularly the classic Castlevania series, and could easily hold its own when compared to any of the series' classic titles.  While it borrows heavily from its source material and isn't as original as many of its contemporaries, it is also a game that will sit comfortably alongside other highly regarded retro-throwback-games-done-right such as Shovel KnightBloodstained: Curse of the Moon is available via Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam, and it is well worth its asking price of $10.


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Comments
 
Awesome and frustrating game!  I loved / hated it lol. 
 
Great review, thanks! I couldn't agree more with your evaluations. It is a fantastic game, it was only the third download game I paid for, and I didn't regret it. I hardly had so much fun with a retro game, I hope it will be released on physical disc one day. I was surprised about the replay value. If you start with three characters and you can access certain parts of the levels with their abilities and get some additional items plus the different endings make a high replay value. I played through the games four times. The options to take the characters with you, ignore them or even kill them to get abilities yourself was surprising and lots of fun.

At some points it is a bit frustrating because we are not used anymore to try the same tough sequences over again. On the other hand it gives you the same satisfaction I had with Castlevania III and Ninja Gaiden when you get good at the game and truly master it.

If you liked 8bit-platformers, buy it, play it and enjoy it! It is a first rate game! If this is an indication for the game quality of the actual game we'll get, we'll be in for a treat.
 
Great game.
 
Man this game looks awesome.  And the price is right too.  I also hope to see a physical release at some point, but I would be more interested in seeing this on a more classic console rather than a modern one.
 
Good overview of the game, and I would probably agree with your thoughts here. I need to go back to this, because I downloaded it, played it some, hit a wall, then went back to what I was already playing before. But I was also a backer on Kickstarter, and like you, had forgot that the 8-bit game was a stretch goal, so this was a pleasant surprise for me as well. I definitely like the approach, and felt like it really captured that vibe it was trying to capture, as a faux-continuation of Castlevania III, in style, if not story.
 
This is one of my early candidates for Game of the Year for 2018 already. The music is outstanding, the level design is tight and fun (alternate path on the literal first screen!), and the different character skills made each screen for every level fun and engaging.

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