Los Angeles - It's been a year since we last saw Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a Kickstarter campaign helmed by none other than Koji Igarashi, creator of the famed Castlevania series. Since then the game has got a new coat of paint with an ambiguous release of 2018 for PC, Xbox, PlayStation, PlayStation Vita and GOG.com. Still, from what I saw, the new title could be well worth the wait.
A 2.5D side-scroller, the game sticks to the rivers and lakes of the Castlevania titles of old for the most part. Instead of playing as someone from the famed vampire-slaying Belmont clan, Bloodstained puts you in the shoes of Miriam, an orphan survivor of a brutal ritual designed to summon demons. The effects of the ceremony place her into a deep sleep for 10 years and when she finally wakes up, she discovers she's slowly but surely turning into crystal.
That might not be such a bad thing as she's on the hunt for Gabel, a long-time friend who's taken up summoning demons for his own nefarious purpose. To put an end to the madness, Miriam must harness the strengths and abilities of powerful shards of crystals she finds along the way by absorbing them into her body by impaling herself.
While Miriam's pain might be excruciating, the game itself is even prettier than the last time we saw it. I made my way through the new cathedral level to battle Bloodless, a new boss in the game. A vampire mistress, this demon most foul wears a dress made of pure blood that she uses to attack.
But before I did battle with the beastly beauty, I had to cut a swath through the horde of enemies standing in the way. Similar to the Castlevania series, Bloodstained has a dark, luxurious gothic aesthetic, big on pointed arches and plenty of flying buttresses. Even better, the game offers a beautiful soundtrack that screams classic Castlevania.
But a myriad of creatures stood between me and Bloodless and I was fighting bare handed -- or so I thought. After breaking a few candlestick in true Castlevania fashion, I found a short sword that I quickly equipped and started making my way to the end goal. Along the way, Miriam's body had been pierced with several crystals, granting with a floating familiar, a powerful fire attack and the ability to summon man-eating primates (yes, you read that right).
The game culuminated in a showdown with the vampire mistress in her lair. After a brutal and bloody fight complete with weaponized jets of blood, evil umbrellas and literal blood rain, I was able to fell the demon, which ended my demo, but only ignited my need and want of this Castlevania successor.