Back in 2015 I put money into the kickstarter for the game Bloodstained Ritual of the Night. It promised be be like the classic Metroidvania style Castlevania games of which Konami had claimed people weren’t into anymore. Well it showed them as it made over 5 MILLION in kickstarter money. One of the stretch goals was a 8 bit style spin off game and that’s what I’m reviewing today. Also note I gave enough money that I got this game for free as a backer, felt it was important to mention that.
As mentioned, this game is in the style of the classic Castlevania games though I would say there are some modern improvements here and there. The game mostly resembles Castlevania 3 since both have more than one playable character that you can switch to, but unlike that one the switching in this is a lot faster.
The game much like the classic Castlevania game that it emulates has this Gothic horror theme, but the first level is set at a train station and then onto a train, so though it has a familiar feel to it very quickly it makes itself something different and new.
When you start the game you get two options for play style, veteran or casual. Veteran includes features from older games like knock back when hit and lives – while those don’t appear in casual. That’s the only difference so casual is a little more welcoming to people who find the knock back getting annoying for them but I wouldn’t say it makes the game too much harder. I played veteran in this game by the way.
The game has you play at first as the samurai Zangetsu, his abilities are very standard, a jump and a short ranged slash with his katana. Like all characters in the game (bar one) he has a sub weapon. Different sub weapons can be found in the levels and they each have different effects but also use up different amounts of resources. A nice touch is that each character gets different sub weapons ( and the one who doesn’t have them makes those objects that would give you a sub weapon give you more ammo, a nice tip there for you readers).
After you complete the first level and beat its boss you meet Miriam the protagonist for Ritual of the Night. You can talk to her to recruit her, ignore her and keep going or kill her to gain a new power. This happens for the next two levels , beat them kill the boss (love the boss of the 3rd level by the way) and you meet a new character, an alchemist called Alfred ( clearly he’s on his break from taking care of Bruce) and mysterious man called Gebel (who is the guy who doesn’t have a sub weapon). Each have different abilities, Miriam can jump higher and do a slide kick, both needed to get to different areas, Gebel can turn into a bat and Alfred… is rather crap other than casting spells.
In every level (up till the final one) there is a hidden item which increases your stats, perhaps raises your health, or the amount of ammo/power, or near the end just boosts your attack and defence. To get these often requires one of the extra characters (usually Miriam or Gebel) so prioritize not dying when using them. Why is that you say? well each character has a separate health bar and when they die you don’t lose a life but instead that character is gone until either all are dead or you beat the level.
Curse of the Moon is probably the best way to get into that classic Castlevania feel, and to be fair even with veteran on, it was probably easier than those Castlevania games. It’s hard but not because of unfair enemy positions. It’s hard but fair. By the time I killed the final boss it was because I learned its attack pattern and prepared for it (also tip, jump behind the crystal staircase when going to the final boss for extra goodies)
When you clear the game you will get an ending depending on your actions with your allies. If you recruited everyone you will then unlock nightmare mode which contains the true ending. Kill everyone and you get the bad ending (of course you do monsters) which unlocks ultimate mode. This mode gives Zangetsu all the power ups he got from killing everyone right from the start, so you can recruit your friends while still having them. A nice touch in these two modes is that to have unlocked them you have to have beaten the game already. The bosses are now harder. More health and new abilities.
I love this game and I highly recommend getting it (and not just because I helped fund it). It’s a great example of a game being inspired by the old retro games but not just copying them or trying to just live off their fame. It’s inspired by Castlevania but it does enough new that it’s also its own thing.