Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 115 - Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is amazing. It really is a modern take on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and is just as wonderful as SOTN is. There are some rough bits for sure, but overall it is an incredibly fun game that I haven't been able to put down. Read all about it, and watch gameplay, right here.

I have to admit (geez, a lot of these things start with that ...) that I wasn't too keen on Bloodstained even within a few months of launch. The graphics were, as the kids say, doo doo feces and the animation was terrible and it just didn't look good at all. I was really disappointed with what I was seeing. Then, in the lead up to launch, the game got a ton of polish and finishing touches and the final graphics were put in place and everything looked much, much better. That isn't to say the game looks great - some of the enemies look awful and some areas are worse looking than others - but overall it's fine and even in some places downright amazing looking. It's worst crime is simply inconsistency. I can deal with that.

Since I started playing Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, I've beaten the PS4 version 4 times (a disc copy I got from GameStop for $15) and the Xbox One version 2 times (via GamePass). I have all but 2 trophies on PS4 (100% items and the platinum) and am still missing 4-5 on Xbox but they're so grindy that I'm not sure I'm going to bother with them again. At any rate, I love this game. 

The thing that makes Bloodstained so fun is the sheer variety of builds you can do based on the items and magic system. There are tons of different weapon types that all play differently. And the magic system, via "shards" you get from defeated enemies, opens up an amazing number of ways to change how the game plays and what your character can do. With different combos of weapons and shards you can basically break the game and make it much, much easier. I freaking love that. It's just incredibly addictive to try new things, or try the same old things but go faster and faster, and I can't get enough. 

My only real complaints with Bloodstained are that I think the game stretches an area or two too far. Like they thought "Every game needs a lava level and an ice level and a (blank) level" and just crammed them in, so the level design is inconsistent. I also have to say that the beginning of your first play through is absolutely brutal. This game is difficult to start out and can be quite frustrating. It honestly made starting the Xbox One version after I'd played so much of the PS4 version a real drag. Once you get a few abilities and grind some levels it isn't so bad, of course, but man is it a pain in the butt for the first couple hours. 

As much as I love it, I'd still say Symphony of the Night is better overall, though. The movement options and shard system opens up more gameplay freedom in Bloodstained, but SOTN does pretty much everything better. Better story. Better enemy designs. Better level design. SOTN is one of my top 5 favorite games ever. Bloodstained is top 20. 

I'm excited to see what Iga and the team does next. With this great foundation to build on I expect something spectacular. Hopefully it doesn't take a million years like this one did.