Dead On Arrival
Taking inspiration from the Castlevania series, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is solidly a Metroidvania-style platformer. Players must battle their way through a demon-infested castle. The original gothic side-scrolling action platformer was funded through Kickstarter and was developed by Koji Igarashi, who is known for producing the Castlevania series. The game boasts beautiful if macabre graphics. However, despite its inspiration, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night lacks depth. What’s worse, NetEase’s Android port suffers unresponsive controls that hammer the nail in the proverbial coffin of what could have been an engaging title.
Players take on the role of Miriam, a young woman who has just awoken from a decade long sleep. Miriam is a victim of the dark alchemist’s curse, which is slowly crystallizing her body. Miriam unfortunately is a rather bland protagonist lacking personality and depth. Upon awakening, Miriam learns that her friend, Gebel, who was also a victim of an alchemist’s curse, has summoned a demonic castle. Now, Miriam must traverse the deadly castle and defeat its master to save both herself and humanity. It’s an interesting enough premise despite Miriam’s blank slate personality.
By Blade or Shoe?
Gameplay is straightforward: just tap the attack button to use your equipped weapon and dodge incoming attacks by jumping or sliding. Combat is easy enough to master; however, it’s simply not an engaging experience. Players will find plenty of weapons throughout the demon-infested castle. Wield daggers, swords, whips, guns, and even weaponized shoes against the demons which lurk around every corner. I must admit I found weaponized shoes to be a fresh addition to side-scrolling combat, though the novelty wears off rather quickly.
Players will also unlock shards throughout the game. Shards are crystalized demon abilities that Miriam can absorb. Some shard abilities, like double jump, are passive, while others allow Miriam to utilize special attacks. The Cerulean Splash Shard, for example, enables Miriam to shoot a water projectile at her enemies, while Blood Steal lets her steal her enemy’s blood to regain health. Shards are one of the most intriguing aspects of the game.
As you progress through Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, you’ll unlock new techniques such as the Flashing Air Kick. To use a technique, you must tap the correct combination of buttons—similar to using special moves in Mortal Kombat games. Sadly the game’s poor controls made initiating techniques rather tricky and ultimately frustrating.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night would be an enticing title if not for its poor controls. A game in the Metroidvania style, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night relies heavily on platformer mechanics. Unfortunately, I found the controls—namely the ability to jump—to be unresponsive. It’s incredibly frustrating when Miriam simply won’t jump onto the desired platform, especially when this prevents you from progressing in the game. This is doubly frustrating, considering the game costs $9.99 to download.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has potential. Unfortunately, the unresponsive controls make jumping from platform to platform feel like a chore. Should the developers fix the controls, the game would likely be fun. However, as of now, it’s nearly unplayable. The backgrounds are hauntingly beautiful, and the concept of shards is interesting. That being said, Miriam isn’t a compelling character, and honestly, who wants to play a platformer in which the jump controls are so flawed? Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night may be spooky, but the only thing you’ll be screaming for is your money back.
Is It Hardcore?
No. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night lacks the depth of the Castlevania series, which inspired it. With unresponsive controls, it’s a chore to play.