For those like me who was born, grown and fed up in the amazing years' 80, Castlevania, certainly represented a killer application by mom Konami, full of vampire elements and really impactful Lovecraftians, and which took full advantage of that mass phenomenon that corresponds to the name of D&D. “Gothic” and epic mixes that soon would have broken through completely even in videogames, still in the first mass stirrings between: Commodore 64, MSX and Atari. Castlevania was added de facto to other archetypes of the genre, from the point of view of the aesthetic background rather than the real videogame genre, or titles of the caliber of: Altered Beast, Dragon's Lair and Golden Ax.
Bloodstained: Ritual of The Night, born as a project on Kickstarter in the far 2014 with more than 5 million dollars collected, and promulgated by Koji Igarashi, takes full hand right from the milestone mentioned above. This is not only because it shares the historical creator at the level of development, but above all because both titles have several characteristics in common. It is not difficult indeed to consider the aforementioned title as a sort of feminine reboot of Konami's masterpiece, especially at the level of atmospheres, level design, game mechanics, npc, and of course kind of afferent.
Bloodstained: Ritual of The Night is the successor to the chapter Curse of The Moon, released in May of 2018 and specifically classified as a genre Metroidvania, for those who did not know a sort of videogame craze between Castlevania and Metroid. In this case we talk about games characterized by gameplay from a purely platform nature in 2.5D, and the need to craft essential jewelry in order to overcome the most inaccessible areas of the map available, but only by defeating certain bosses at the end of the level. The playing area seems to belong to the classic vertical scrolling platforms, but to complete a given dungeon and to grab vital gadgets, it is essential to conceive the aforementioned map at 360 °, which is often to go back or descend into the bowels of the aforementioned stage for continue the adventure. It is obvious that at the base of this "sub-genre" there is a strong characterization of GDR mold, a mixture that allows the inclusion in the title of certain upgrades both in terms of equipment and clothing, as well as classic power-ups to mana ever more detailed .
The suicide girl of Victorianism
We are in the middle of the second industrial revolution, a new era of impoverished spirituality of every kind, especially of the main human values. In this regard, many did not welcome this change. In the 1783 the eruption of the Laki volcano caused a horde of demons to infest England: this event was seen as a sort of premonition of the moods of the times regarding the aforementioned upheavals. The only barrier to this swarming evil was the alchemy guild, who created the sharbinder using the dark arts: human beings who, thanks to a crystal transplanted into their body, were plagiarized by demonic power. They were deliberately sacrificed in a special rite, leaving the demons free field, and only two survived: Gebel and Miriam, the latter being taken from a deep sleep. Ten years later the aforementioned demons have returned, and their return has been heralded by the presence of a large castle similar to a Gothic cathedral. Upon awakening, Miriam discovers that Gebel is the deus ex machina behind all this evil spell, and together with his friend alchemist Johannes, among a thousand adventures, he sets out towards the aforementioned demon-infested castle.
As compelling as it is detailed in an ocean of lore
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night takes great inspiration from the GDR world. You can analyze in great detail every single piece of equipment or object to upgrade your character, up to the most complete personalization of the clothing at your disposal, not only from a mere aesthetic point of view, but also as regards the strengthening of “your "Miriam on duty. THE crystals, a Gordian knot of your strength, set specially in the bodies of the sharbinder, they are available only after defeating certain enemies, without any particular type of criterion regarding the creature that makes it fall. They are indispensable for carrying out certain moves that allow you to launch increasingly powerful and detailed attacks. The in-game upgrades due to the crystals are very tangible: they pass on average a score of about 8 or 11 of damage from a simple attack (of the dagger or kung-fu shoes, for example) to the ben 26 of a critical attack on a fiery ball released from your hands. On his way, Miriam comes across small bookstores where to learn certain movesets that belong to very specific weapons, if you notice that they always share certain types of characteristics tabulated in the inventory under the "rejected" heading. There are also power-ups that increase the physical or magical energy available to every defeated enemy or literally level up our heroine. In fact, defeating certain enemies allows you to receive bonuses for vital energy and magic, for example the latter can increase by destroying a light source, without a precise criterion. Always in this role-playing atmosphere, there is also the possibility of encountering various and possible curses or poisons: a range of playful possibilities, which, connected to the platform nature, make the title rather varied and fun. Even the dress code of your character moddated properly, a bit thanks to defeated enemies and safes scattered everywhere and a little thanks to the enemies encountered for the map, the latter also useful for crafting completely unknown objects, allows you to evolve Miriam and to launch special types of attacks.
The available weapons are cataloged in a specific table that reads "rejected" as a term, and which refers to the physical elements or to the offensive peculiarities of the equipment in game. Among these we have: slash, lunge, attack, fire, ice, thunder and so on, for a total of eleven peculiarities, each of which bears a symbol that indicates its nature. Wearing a stone mask, for example, allows you to increase the value of the wording "stone" in the aforementioned catalog up to 5. The great strength of this game lies in the perfect combination of rediscovery of the goth-platform tradition of metroidvania origin and GDR mechanics very deep and engaging.
The boss fights are remarkable: some bosses remember in some ways the enemies of Ninja Gaiden Sigma for attack patterns, as well as tread the hand on the idea of reboot girl power of Castlevania. The most gratifying aspect of some enemies faced before reaching areas rich in jewels to loot, are the characterization and the well-made artificial intelligence. In Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night there is also the possibility of being able to forge, through natural elements and not acquired in-game step by step, certain objects that can be added to your equipment, and it is our dear friend alchemist Johannes who is comes to the rescue. At the end of the fair, everything that belongs to the GDR world in this game presents a wealth of truly remarkable details, especially the lore, with details meticulously gutted between statistics and ever-increasing peculiarities depending on the upgrade incorporated into our proto-suicide girl.
The story is quite linear but well thought out, and keeps us company in every cavern of the dark path of our heroine. The average difficulty, if analyzed with regard to parameters such as artificial intelligence, orientation ability in the map and attack patterns, is very valid and compelling: not from Souls-like but still fairly demanding especially immediately after the Arvantville level. An element that could be improved is orientation on the map, since they are two-dimensional worlds placed on several planes, since sometimes we get stuck in the burrows like treasure hunts of the puzzling week. It is not necessarily a defect: linearity that is too smooth could be boring, but on some occasions backtracking is necessary and enemies reappear as usual, making curses fly like tabellettes.
Manga goth in 2.5D
From a point of view of graphic editing, creatively speaking, the characters of Bloodstained: Ritual of The Night are inspired by the dictates of the mangaka style of the last twenty years, in the midst of very effective settings with a dark mark of relief. There is often a reference to the multicolored stained glass windows of the classic Gothic cathedrals, also relevant for the narrative interweaving. Sprite a lot of eighties, pretty pleasant cartoonish graphics and immersed in literally enchanting scenarios. For what concerns the audio sector, the soundtracks are very castlevania-like even if in a modern version and they are quite atmospheric. The effects of monsters, dungeons after dungeons, do not seem to be equally inspired.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the night is a potpourri, ad hoc mixed between tradition and modernity, with in the middle all that corollary of nerd textbook pathfinder elements that enrich the experience. Compelling, intriguing, visually satisfying, keeps you glued to the screen with its infinite lore and its clashes that evolve in difficulty level after level. The so-called aello, or the gray octopus that chases you on the initial vessel with its tentacles to make you the skin, not particularly difficult, is only a (sweet) and distant memory. The title is undoubtedly one of the best projects ever created on Kickstarter: a game to leaf through everywhere to look for the best combination to face your enemies, to the best of countless possibilities, all immersed in a very verbose story, with innumerable implications and dialogues and in a somewhat inspired historical context. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is ultimately a vampiric journey in a platform world, chock-full of "treasures" to grab and embellished with constant activity as a bowler, aimed at constantly upgrading your character. Castlevania-like upgrade, but more colorful in terms of possibilities: just to try not to fall into the banal label of a simple feminine clone of Koji Igarashi's masterpiece, since it is much more.