Originally launching via Kickstarter, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is one of the most successful games in crowd-funded history. It is a game that may not have existed without the support of the community yet, like so many others, the road of completion was long and fraught with challenges – but the game has arrived and perhaps against the odds, it’s good. Seriously good. From a personal perspective, the final result exceeds my very high expectations.
The initial pitch behind Bloodstained is compelling, promising a brand-new game in the style of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night direct from the original developers. It’s a beautiful and highly playable take on the latter day Castlevania titles, with a massive world to explore, a wide selection of abilities, excellent play control and a brilliant presentation. It’s the sort of game that fans have awaited for years. There’s just so much that Bloodstained gets right. Each area is carefully crafted with each structure within the world angled to look just right from the perspective of the player, thanks to its 2.5D presentation. Dynamic lighting is used everywhere as are real-time shadows.I also love the use of clouds and mist throughout the game – especially the rapidly moving clouds visible outdoors that remind me of the entryway just before Dracula in the classic Symphony of the Night.
In fact, the game world is designed very much like SotN. Each distinct area is broken up into its own zone with connecting hallways used as transitions between them. The initial loading sequence is lengthy but once in the game, it all feels very seamless.While the visual style may not appeal to everyone, I think it’s one of the best looking 2.5D games this generation – well, provided you’re playing on the right platform. It’s safe to say that not everything has gone according to plan. As Bloodstained arrived over the past couple weeks, technical problems and unexpected bugs started to emerge, mostly concentrated on the Nintendo Switch port. Beyond that, after playing each console version, I was surprised to find such a significant difference between all of them. Multi-platform comparisons have become somewhat dull as of late, but that is certainly not the case here – and of all the versions available, it is indeed the Switch rendition that quantifiably falls short.