Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night

Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night – Going Back To The Castle…

Ritual of the Night, a stark resemblance to its predecessor’s title; for many it will undoubtedly conjure nostalgia and quality.

That predecessor, for many, is a crowning achievement in video gaming, in many lists of the greatest videogames of all time and responsible for coining the term ‘Metroidvania’.

So, this game has some boots to fill, some big ass, sexy, kinky boots that would make some foot fetish person descend into some erotic madness… you know, those kinds of boots.

I have been somewhat hesitant of this title. As a fan of the Metroidvania genre (Super Metroid is my favourite game of all time) and as a lover of the Castlevania games that adopted this playstyle – yes, even the Gameboy Advance and DS bad boys – something felt off.

Watching early demo and gameplay footage, it seemed a bit bare, hollow and clinical. There was no emotion to it; it felt paint by numbers to appease fans.

However, I had faith and was allowed to try out the game. So, does it deserve to reinterpret a beloved title or is it just another Kickstarter corpse?

Readers who may not be aware of what I am talking about: Bloodstained is the spiritual successor to Castlevania and notably Symphony of the Night; the highest rated game in the classic series.

Sharing the same producer, Koji Igarashi, it surpassed its Kickstarter goal and is one of the highest funded products on the platform. Published by 505 Games and with the help of WayForward (who made the criminally underrated The Mummy Demastered), the game has somewhat turned into a cult supergroup.

Bloodstained has you play as Miriam, an Orphan Alchemist who has undergone experiments that allow her to have demonic crystals transplanted into her body.

Now, Miriam must stop another alchemist who had the same experiment, Gebel. Succumbed by the demon crystals, he has lost his humanity. In defeating Gebel, Miriam will end the demon outbreak and retain her humanity.

The gameplay is pretty much what is to be expected from a spiritual successor of the Castlevania series from Koji. A Metroidvania style game where exploration and levelling up is key to your success.

Leveling up is done like a traditional JRPG where experience points are given by defeating enemies and items such as weaponry and clothing provide stat bonuses. Also, you gain abilities by defeating enemies and absorbing their crystals.

Unlike its predecessor, Bloodstained has gone for a 2.5D look that really adds a modern feel to the game; using the dimension to give the world depth and a geographical sense.

A little addition is that the item of clothing selected shows up on your character; it’s something small but really goes a long way. It’s these tweaks that really add a modern touch and make the game look amazing. Moreover, the characters have a cel-shaded aesthetic that keeps it feeling nostalgic.

The demo I played started you on a boat heading to the castle when the demon force ambushes you. You must explore the boat and kill the demons. Though a small area, there was much to find and explore, you can read books to learn more, you can interact with cannons to blow up walls, and the monster types were varied enough to keep it from getting stale.

But how does it play? I hear you scream, calm down, you’ll wake up your children.

I can safely say that it only took a couple of seconds for all my anxiety to fade. It’s fantastic.

It feels slicker, it looks more beautiful and it plays just how you want it to play. Speaking with a representative, 505 games told me that the game’s speed is the same as Symphony of Night.

Hours of gameplay and various playable characters; this is something where you’ll get your money’s worth. This is a game that many have been crying for, and it delivers. Made for the fans but not for their money – for their love.

Bloodstained is set for release June 18th 2019 for Windows, Xbox and PS4. The Switch version hits slightly later on June 25th:

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Past Blast: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

1997 was an important year for video games, Final Fantasy VII was released that year, and we all know the impact that particular game made. As did Quake 2, GoldenEye and Megaman Legends. There are similarities in the games that were just listed, as they were all in 3D. This was the trend back in 1997, hardware was becoming capable enough to add that much lusted after extra dimension. Then came along Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – a 2D platforming title. In this 3D era, would this game really make an impact?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Symphony of the Night is a game where you play as the son of Dracula, Alucard, trying to stop his father from being brought back to life. It starts you off by throwing you into a HUGE castle, and doesn’t really give you any more instructions beyond that. A type of gameplay known nowadays as “Metroidvania”, akin to how the original wave of Metroid games play. There’s really not much to the story apart from some terribly voiced dialogue and some text at the start. Though, out of the small amounts of dialogue there is, one of the most well-remembered pieces is: “What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets.”

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This particular Castlevania title was also the start of a new era of Castlevania games that no longer followed the level-by-level approach, with the older games now being referred to as ‘Classicvania’. This game wasn’t a one-off type of Castlevania game – there isn’t enough memorable moments in the newer titles that make them as brilliant as Symphony of the Night either. So what exactly WAS the impact of SOTN?

Well, it spawned a cult following for starters. It wasn’t expected to sell as well in all territories, despite receiving a high amount of critical acclaim. Originally it was released on the PlayStation 1 and the Sega Saturn (Japan only), and didn’t have much hope for an American release, thus it had a much lower budget over there, which is really reflected back in the US advert. Nowadays it has been re-released on the PSN, Xbox Live Arcade, and came bundled with the PSP title “Dracula X Chronicles”, in which you need to do a convoluted task in order to unlock it – but it is there and it’s worth it. It also won multiple awards, including 4th best game ever made on EGM, and 16th on IGN’s list. Which isn’t bad for a black sheep game of its time.

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The Metroidvania games are amazing titles, all of them offer their own little bit of uniqueness, but as of late, there’s not really been any releases of this type. The last Castlevania game released was the monstrosity known as Lords of Shadows 2, which is 3D… No. Just no. Bring back the Metroidvanias, please. There’s a whole Facebook group dedicated to the continuing development of these types of games, well, 2D Castlevanias in general. It’s called Operation Akumajo, so if you’re like-minded, check them out. For now we have Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night to look forward to in 2018, and we all know that’s the closest we’re going to get for quite some time.

And if you haven’t checked out the Netflix show, that’s worth a go too…

Castlevania on Netflix gets a second season

If you spent the weekend (some of it) watching the new Castlevania anime series on Netflix and have now realised there are no episodes left to watch… Fret not. A second season has been confirmed.

Takeaways:

  • Eight new episodes have been ordered by Netflix, double the length of the brisk first season.
  • The show is produced by Adi Shankar, who is also working on a new Assassin’s Creed anime.
  • Castlevania stars The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage as Trevor Belmont, with Graham McTavish as the ominous Dracula.

It’s good to see that the show already has a future and some life to it. Here at D-pad Joy we liked what we saw so far. Did you manage to check it out?

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The new Castlevania series on Netflix actually looks good

Castlevania is coming to Netflix on July 7th. What’s more, the new animated series actually looks like it could be good…

We know from the past that video game adaptations don’t always work out that well, cough, see Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros., and the latest attempt in Assassin’s Creed, to name but a few. In fact the only good video game adaptation that comes to mind was the Ace Attorney movie in 2012.

So, you can imagine the equal hope, excitement and worry when something like Castlevania is announced for Netflix. Even the producer, Adi Shankar, had to reassure fans:

‘I personally guarantee that it will end the streak and be the western world’s first good video game adaptation’.

Strong words, but can it deliver? I guess we’ll see shortly. Check out the new teaser trailer and the synopsis below:

The last surviving member of a disgraced clan fights to save Eastern Europe from Dracula. Inspired by the classic NES game.