PAX East 2019: Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – First Impressions

This is a title that every Castlevania fan knows about and has been anticipating for some time now. Coming from Koji Igarashi as the spiritual successor for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night had a lot to live up to. In this gothic/horror/action side-scrolling RPG set in 19th-century England, you play as Miriam—an orphan scarred by an alchemist’s curse—fighting against dark paranormal forces inside a demon-infested castle.

The demo at PAX East was a new one (not seen before at PAX weekends), and our guide at the booth was eager to show off the features of mixing and matching new abilities and gear to cater to one’s own personal playstyle. We tried a broadsword, a rapier, and something ranged (which didn’t get written down, apologies). While the rapier offered up rapid attacks with high damage over multiple successful hits, the slower broadsword did considerably more damage in one accurate thrust. Combine these with magic attacks, and you’ll figure out what works best for your own progression.

The overall aesthetic of the game certainly evoked Castlevania and felt familiar. However, between the 2.5D graphics and the 3D artwork, it was clear that the art team put considerable care into ensuring that it felt fresh at the same time immersing the player in that familiar gothic atmosphere. The character sprites sprung off the background and the monster design was crisp.

Apparently, another element of familiar comes from the composers as well. Industry icons Ippo Yamada of Resident Evil and Mega Man fame and Michiro Yamane of—you guessed it—Castlevania: Symphony of the Night lent their talents to the soundtrack. A full orchestra was hired to play the music—there was no corner cutting in this one!

We had a few hiccups with the controls from the start and a bit of frame drop, but since we played in the first few minutes of the media hour before the con-proper opened, the Nintendo indie folks were still working the kinks out of their setup, so we can’t place blame on the game itself in this instance. Not yet, anyway.

The final boss fight was challenging and intense, and in the menu screens we were able to see the considerable potential for upgrades and weapons combos. When it finally releases in Summer 2019, this will be one to watch closely—especially for those fans who’ve been waiting nearly 20 years for a Castlevania successor of this calibre.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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