Castlevania: Symphony of the Night delighted fans when it first came out, revolutionizing action role-playing games and creating an entire genre called “Metroidvania.” And Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night from Symphony of the Night assistant director Koji Igarashi follows right in its footsteps, serving as a spiritual successor to the ’90s classic. But how does Bloodstained stand right now?
Very well, actually. 505 Games took out a large demo area at New York Comic Con, showing off Igarashi’s Kickstarter project right alongside some of the biggest attractions at the show, like Funko Pop. For the uninitiated, Bloodstained focuses on Miriam, an orphan experimented on by an Alchemist who must explore a mysterious castle to prevent her skin from turning into crystal.
Playing on PC with a PlayStation controller, Bloodstained handled pretty well. Combat was responsive and challenging, yet straightforward. In the demo, Miriam had a sword to fight against demons wandering the castle, letting her fight up close. This gave some tension during fights, as players must successfully land hits while evading enemy attacks. Players could also obtain special powers via Shards, which grant Miriam the power to shoot a Fire Cannon at demons, double jump, and spawn demonic dogs at her foes, just to name a few.
Shards’ abilities were pretty fun to use, and they added some versatility to the game. Let’s face it, Bloodstained wouldn’t be fun if the player could only use the same attack against every enemy, so collecting Shards kept combat unique and interesting. Plus, Shards came with a deliciously gruesome animation where Miriam impales herself with the demonic crystal to gain their abilities. It adds a light horror and gothic feel to the game, and it’s a particularly memorable way to remember that a power-up was obtained.
Platforming obstacles were found throughout Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’s demo, too. Expect to jump up and down plenty of floors during play, while also battling enemies that are both airborne, upright, and running toward Miriam on the ground. Again, like the special attack Shards, the game’s enemy pool is very diverse, making Bloodstained dynamic and intense while exploring maps.
Like any proper Metroidvania title, Bloodstained’s demo showed off an opening boss fight, too. In the demo’s final scene, Miriam went to battle against a demonic woman spewing parasols and blood at her, causing the player to evade blood falling from both the ceiling and the enemy’s own magical parasol.
While the boss battle featured plenty of mainstays sure to excite Metroidvania fans—attack phases, high HP bosses, and a reliance on the player’s positioning to deal damage, just to name a few—the ending fight seemed oddly easy. Using several potions cushioned Miriam’s damage intake while attacking the boss, and simply watching the boss’ attack patterns made her extremely predictable to kill. Bloodstained is challenging, but at some moments, the game felt a little too easy.
But overall, Bloodstained is coming along quite well. The game looks beautiful, it plays like Symphony of the Night, and it features just the right balance between action and role-playing gameplay that fans have come to know and love from Metroidvanias. As long as the game’s boss fights grow progressively harder, then Igarashi’s spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night is bound to excite Kickstarter backers and fans alike.
Disclosure: Reporter attended New York Comic Con via press badge.