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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Omega Strike Review [Switch] – Bringing Back The ’90s

Jack Boyles reviews Omega Strike…

The ’90s were the golden age of action in popular culture. You had such great action movies, movies like Die Hard 2, T2 or Cliffhanger; movies that made you sit down and thrilled you with its set pieces. But these films know pacing — they knew not to shove you with stuff every two seconds.

Then there were ’90s video games. The arcades, light gun games, beat em ups; games like Final Fight, Metal Slug. You also had the console market boom with Nintendo vs Sega. Titles like Metroid, Earthworm Jim or Robocop vs Terminator; the action was everywhere, and it served one purpose, to entertain.

Nowadays, action movies and video games take themselves seriously, albeit ridiculous in nature. I feel that creators miss an important part of what made the action entertainment from this era great… Charm.

However, the team at Woblyware have reminded us of a simpler time of gaming with their title, Omega Strike.

Omega Strike has you play as three freedom fighters whose mission is to stop Doctor Omega and his mutant army from dominating the world. Playing as three of the freedom fighters, you must explore the world to find treasure and abilities in this Metroidvania game.

As previously stated, you play as three characters, the main character being Sarge, a Rambo inspired rifleman who has slick hair, the bulking muscle man Bear equipped with his grenade launcher and Dex the agility character with a shotgun. Each character has their abilities that help you access previously inaccessible areas.

The very start of the game has you with all three playable characters. Upon your first meeting of Doctor Omega, he captures Dex and Bear in a classic ‘removal of power’ move that is a staple of the Metroidvania genre. From here you must find Bear and Dex as well as the remaining power-ups scattered across the open world design. Exploring the map, you’ll come across treasure that gives you chunks of money. Destroying barrels and enemies also drops coins that can be used to buy weapon upgrades.

Though, exploration is a big part of the game. So is blasting down enemies. Bear’s grenades bounce and dip making it suitable for hitting enemies below you, Dex’s shotgun is powerful but has a small range, and Sarge’s rifle has the best range but medium power. Flicking through the players on the fly makes this an easy task.

It’s how solid the game feels that is one of the joyous parts of Omega Strike. The way the game plays is extremely polished and responsive. Jumping from platform to platform and dispatching enemies is generally satisfying; you easily slip into the game flow. At times, it doesn’t even feel like a Metroidvania title and would be more suited too a run and gun game from the ’90s.

Omega Strike is a love letter to ’90s video games on the SNES and Megadrive. The 2D pixel art graphics just spark nostalgia from that era of gaming, opting for a cartoon/simpler look than gritty details.

Furthermore, the soundtrack sounds like many of the instrumentals from a SNES cartridge. The tunes also are very hummable which is something lost from video games today; again, harking back to that ’90s generation of gaming.

Though, as polished as this game is, this becomes one of its issues; it never excels in any department.

The game offers no mini map, a staple in Metroidvania titles since Super Metroid. Unlocking the powers does no more than opening previously inaccessible areas and doesn’t change the way you play or think about the game.

As fun as shooting enemies is, it’s annoying not being able to shoot diagonally; meaning you must jump and shoot whenever an enemy is above or bounce Bear’s grenades off the walls in an attempt to hit an enemy below you.

Moreover, you can only switch the player in a preset way. So, if you want Sarge and you are Bear, you’ll have to scan through Dex to get to Sarge. I feel the ability to switch back and forth would add more depth.

Despite these issues, Omega Strike is a fun and polished game which makes these hiccups just bizarre. Though I cannot deny that is a good game and is enjoyable from start to finish. It may not execute everything correctly but what it does, it does it well enough to make the whole experience cohesively entertaining and engaging.

Both modern and retro gamers will find something in this indie title, though I feel people from the ’90s will get more out of this game.

So, grab your bucket hat and popper trousers.