One of Konami’s most treasured video game franchises is Castlevania. Gamers have fond memories of these games from way back in the NES era. Then Konami decided that the best thing to do with the franchise is to make a bunch of pachinko machines and mobile games nobody wants (the Netflix series was good, though.) Koji Igarashi, a former Konami programmer and producer, decided to make a Kickstarter for a Castlevania-like game called Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. The original goal was $500,000 but it amassed $5.5 MILLION! Was it worth it?
YES, A MILLION TIMES!
During the Industrial Revolution, Mirium, an orphan who has the alchemist curse which causes the body to crystalize brought on by a ritual performed by the alchemist guild, goes after her friend Gebel who is trying to summon demons to destroy the world.
While not a particularly strong story, there are plenty of memorable characters and the setting is awesome. While it’s not Dracula’s Castle (trying not to get sued by Konami even though Dracula is public domain) there is still a castle filled with all the horror monster we know from Castlevania.
The gameplay itself is the usual Metroidvania game Castlevania fans love with a few tweaks. There’s item/weapon/armor crafting and shards. Shards are basically magic that you acquire from enemies. They get stronger by upgrading them and by how many you have. While there are a lot, you’ll on;y stuck with a handful of the ones you need to get through the castle and whatever attack spell you prefer. There are also familiar shards that summon a familiar to help you. These familiars do decent damage depending on which ones you use and its level.
As with previous games, there’s a lot to explore with a ton of secrets that require different shards to find. These secrets aren’t crazy hard to find as long as you do a bit of exploring and attacking every wall.
There was only one part of the game where I got and many others got stuck. Turns out you need to defeat a fish enemy in the underground area to get a shard that allows you to swim. Other than that, it’s pretty easy to know where to go next.
The bosses are the best thing about the gameplay. They are some of the most creative you’ll ever see in any Castlevania game. From a female vampire who fights with a parasol to a fricken SLOT MACHINE (!) there’s a ton of variety. They’re also super challenging so don’t expect anything easy.
Graphically, the game has a beautiful style. Not like the best graphical game but in terms of art direction. The enemies, characters and locations have this great look to them that it’s pretty hard to describe in words. OR course, there are the generic monsters that look bland but that’s to be expected.
Sound-wise, the music is OK. Not as memorable as the previous games but there are some tracks that are worth listening to. There’s the option to choose between English or Japanese voice acting. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and it really all goes down to preference. In the English version, Zangetsu is voiced by the legendary David Hayter.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is well worth the $5.5 million that backers gave to the Kickstarter. While the story is and sound are OK, the gameplay and graphics more than makeup for them. This is the Castlevania game fans wanted and it on;y took one Konami’s employees to quit and go out on his own to make it.