E3 2018: Hands on with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
When Koji Igarashi left Konami, many feared that it would be the end of the Castlevania games as people knew them, but not one to sit still, Igarashi launched a Kickstarter and from that we have Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, getting asked if I wanted to play it, was an opportunity I could not pass up.
The game tells the story of Miriam, an orphan who was taken in by the Alchemists Guild, but they did not have altruistic goals in mind, they used her for an experiment. In order to save the world, they began to infuse crystallised demonic energy, known as magi-crystals, into her very body and while they did that to many others as well, only she and a boy named Gebel survive, but a horrible cost. Miriam falls into a coma that lasts over 10 years and, in that time, Gebel has begun working with the demons, attempting to bring them back, so not long after she wakes, she sets out to confront him and stop him from unleashing the hordes of hell upon the world once again.
If you have ever played a Castlevania game, then you are going to feel right at home here, Miriam can run, jump and attack, just like you would expect, which is nice because while the game starts out feeling familiar, it changes a bit and quickly as well. Perhaps the biggest change is that you can now find weapons, armour and more littered around the world, meaning that your favourite weapon right now, could be old new when you enter another room, but keeping the weapons on hand, pun not intended, is important, as some weapons are better at fighting some creatures than others. However, the weapons are not the games biggest drawcard, that is where the crystals come into play.
As you defeat enemies, you can absorb some of their essence, which in turn powers up your crystals and once enough have been collected, you get a shard of demonic power. These shards unlock powers that you can use in combat, one of which is Cerulean Splash, which basically summons a whirlpool to attack enemies for you. Each time you use an attack, you use some of your mana, which you can refill from drinking potions and such and you will want to make sure you keep it topped up. Some of the magic attacks you earn are actually used in solving some puzzles, not long after you get the fire spell, you need to use it to light a cannon, in order to open a door.
But the shards don’t just give you magic attacks, some of them will actually improve your skills or abilities in some way, shape or form, specifically, one of them will let you add a spell to your weapon, letting you deal out more damage. Because you can modify how certain shards work, each player will be able to find their best style of play, I myself started out using a sword, but towards the end of my time with the game, I was running around like Bruce Lee, kicking every enemy and lantern I could find.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, so far, appears to be avoiding the mistakes made by Mighty Number 9, the gameplay was tight and responsive, with lots of variations thanks to weapon and armour choices, plus the shards. While we still don’t have a firm release date, I do want a chance to play more of the game, so hopefully, it is not far away.