Before the fucking world ended….wayyyy back in the glory days of May 2015…..I was a big kickstarter nerd. Well big is relative. I backed stuff where: 1) It was something I would really want to see and 2) Didn’t care if I lost my dough. For example, I backed a shit awful movie from Spike Lee just to get a signed When the Levee’s Broke poster, and that was totally worth it.
Starting to climb up the Kickstarter charts was a little game called Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
This was the pitch video. Seems almost quaint now.
Koji Igarashi was the main driving force behind one of my picks for top ten video games ever made. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. In high school, I played the fucking shit out of SotN. I probably played more of that than FFVII or pretty much any other game for the PS1. That game was the total package. A gift that kept on giving. Beating the castle had such a great feel to it.
I also picked up like 2 or 3 of Koji’s other Castlevania games for the GBA. They were good but none of them beat SotN. Its one of these games where I have owned it in every iteration including the motherfucking PSP, with the bad voiceacting and rewritten dialogue. Still beat it.
Well, all good things had to come to an end. Especially at fucking Konami. Where they have decided to shit the bed and go full pachinko. And much like, all the other great talent at Konami, Iga was given the full fuck-off treatment.
So, he went the route of many shunned by the mainstream route, go to Kickstarter.
And I gave him money. Not a ton. I got in at the “give me a copy when it comes out level.”
…..and I waited….and waited…..
I started to get scared. Primarily because every other fucking Kickstarter game I had backed shit the bed. Crowfall wont come out until sometime after I collect social security. Mighty No 9 was total and utter dogshit. But, I did play Curse of the Moon, which was like the 8-bit teaser game for Bloodstained. And the gameplay there was butter smooth. Maybe I could hope
How did it turn out? Well take a look at this shit:
The champ‘s fuckin run through at Max Difficulty. WARNING: It will spoil the entire game. But if you get stuck, its a good place to go. Also, this will show you how much of a fucking god you can be in this game.
HOLY SHIT did this game ever fucking deliver. Like I figured it would be “good enough.” Nope, not enough for IGA. The man is fuckin serious business, and delivered in spades.
The English have a saying, “Does what it says on the tin.” This fucking game does what it says on the tin. They didn’t try to go a completely different route like Mighty No 9. They gave us EXACTLY what we wanted. Oh you like Symphony of the Night. What if we take all the best shit from there, from all the GBA games, and from Harmony of Despair, and got the same fucking composer from all of that shit thrown together in one game. What you get is double album worth of glorious masterpiece.
Well lets talk some specifics. The movement and handling is just as fluid as any of those late-stage castlevania side scrollers. The art style is glorious. At first, the 3D models instead of spritework feels a bit jarring, but as you sink in the game, it definitely feels natural and its own thing. Be warned, it does vary a bit from the pure Castlevania gothic. Think House (1977).
I don’t know if House is a direct inspiration for IGA, but there are major moments in the game that remind me of the film.
Well, House and traditional weeaboo art style. Which I suppose was to be expected. Can’t directly rip off the Hammer films forever. In fact, Konami may not let them.
Speaking of Konami may not let them, the game SHAMELESSLY does the BARE minimum to hide some stuff that is ripped off from Symphony of the Night and the GBA titles. Like there are clearly monsters and mechanics IGA likes. So, he does whatever is the LEAST he has to do in order to bring them in.
In fact, there are some secrets in this game that directly flips the finger at Konami. And I love it.
In terms of story……who cares…….I mean its about the same. Except replace Vampire with Demon. Demon Hunters show up somewhere. Big Demon is in the Castle. Got to go through the castle to get them. There are twists and turns along the way, and the characters are interesting enough to sustain the game. But, IGA knows what he is doing. And he isnt going to overload his masterpiece with plot. They have as much substance as the plot of SotN here, and that is plenty good enough for me.
The gameplay is what counts in IGAvanias, and the game is doublestuff full. The map is about 2x-ish the size of the SotN map, with each zone having a clear and distinct personality. The game HEAVILY rewards players who really want to sink deep. Completists have a ton to do here, and new stuff constantly coming.
Thats not to say a casual can’t beat the game. On my run through, I got to the final boss basically on what I could figure out (minus one or two puzzle nudges from the champ). I did have to fall back on the game’s crafting system to beat the final boss who was a doozy. Then, I found out about the VAST volume of really strong crap I missed, and I was overjoyed.
If you want to feel like a god, the game can totally make you feel like a god…..a busy god with STILL more stuff to do.
And more is still on the way with IGA and crew working on 13 seperate free DLCs to add to the game. There are rumor’s circulating of additional paid DLCs, and you know what, I welcome it. People were bitching about the day one kickstarter DLC, and I have no idea why. At $40, the game is a steal. With easy multiple-hundred hours of gameplay buried in the core game alone.
Lastly, more than anything above. This game is fucking fun. Its just a really good time to completely dominate each of the zones. Find all the secrets, etc. I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. Im about to go through another fucking stupid ass grind on WoW, and it wont be fun. At all. Fun factor is probably the main reason I will keep coming back to Bloodstained for a long time to come.
4/4 – This is an honest-to-god masterpiece. Harkens back to a time when gaming was about actually making great games, and I miss those days. Kickstarter games needed more wins, and we are getting them. This is better than anything AAA. I look forward to playing this game for a long time to come. If you have even a passing interest in anything Castlevania or metroidvanias in general, buy it now. Give IGA your money. Better there than the demons at Epic or EA.