STAFF REVIEW of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Xbox One)


Wednesday, July 31, 2019.
by Kirsten Naughton

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Box art I feel bad for taking this long with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. However, a phenomenal game such as this needs a review that showcases it properly and thoroughly out of respect for developers ArtPlay, WayForward and Inti Creates. Oh, and who can forget Koji Igarashi, the former Castevania series Producer, the man who led the development. To say I had a good time on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night would be a massive understatement. It's so good that it now has my top one spot in my favourite game list. For a game to take out both Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild AND Forgotton Anne, you've got to have something that is rock solid. That's exactly what Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is from the very start. I loved every minute I spent with Miriam and the extensive character list that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night offers us.

Miriam is the main protagonist whom you'll be playing through Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. She is an 18 year old Shardbinder who has been frozen in time for 10 years. The Alchemy Guild took her as a young child, implanting her with a crystal that grants her with demonic powers. The Alchemy Guild had planned to sacrifice her to the demon summoning, but she fell into a deep sleep and was spared. She's woken up now, but there's a big problem; Gebel, a man she saw as a brother, may have opened the gates of Hell again, and I don't think I need to tell you that's not a good idea.

The overall story, without giving away anything major, revolves around Miriam and a few people she's met in the beginning of her journey through the Hellhold are tasked with now having to stop Gebel from opening up the gates of Hell again. If I had a slight criticism about Bloodstained, it would be that I am not a huge fan of the story, though not for any one particular reason. I have to be honest, I feel like the gameplay being stopped due to listening to characters talk is a little much sometimes, but that's me being extremely picky.


A big part of your journey with Bloodstained is collecting these things called Shards, essentially condensed demonic power in the form of a crystal. Sometimes when you destroy a demon in the human world, the power left over from the demon's death will form into a Shard that you will then possess through the Shard entering your body. There are 4 types of Shards; Conjure, Directional, Skill and Passive. Conjure Shards are the most common. They are essentially attacks on enemies, such as a strong gust of wind. Directional Shards are what they sound like; you point to something and the demonic power comes out of your hand to whatever you're aiming at, such as fire. A Passive shard is a power that takes effect as you equip it, as it doesn't consume any MP and improves Miriam's physical capabilities. Skill Shards grant special abilities and do not take up any of your shard slots or use MP.

With these different types of Shards comes a grade and rank, where the grade indicates a Shard's power and effect. Each duplicate Shard you collect increases that Shard's grade, up to a maximum of 9, which can come in handy when you have bosses and demons with higher HP. You can also increase a Shard's rank by enhancing it through alchemy.

Johannes, one of your friends on your journey, will be in charge of the Alchemy and the enhancing part of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. I have to be 1000% honest, as I didn't craft or enhance much of anything. I probably should have, but crafting and enhancing was definitely an afterthought for my playstyle. Thankfully for me, crafting and enhancing was not a mandatory requirement of the main story, it just helps you get more potions and enhances your weapons. It may be really cool to some, but I was completely content just exploring.


You might be wondering what a Shardbinder is. A Shardbinder is a term used for people like Miriam who have been implanted and possessed with the crystal. The crystal, as cool as it sounds to have demonic powers and all, has a negative impact that is irreversible. Once implanted and possesses a human body, it infests into the body. If you leave it alone and let it run its course, the human body can become corrupted. One of Miriam's friends, Johannes, has found a way to temporarily stop Miriam's corruption, but is unable to reverse it, which is unfortunate. Of all the Shardbinders, Miriam and Gebel are the only ones left. All others have been sacrificed by the Alchemy Guild to make effort in opening the gates of Hell.

I feel like during my gameplay, I have referenced the Archives and Compendium more than I ever have in a video game before. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has so much information, so much backstory and history ingrained within it, that unless you have a phenomenal memory (which I don't have), I feel like you'll miss parts and explanations. Which, I'm not going to lie, sucks. I feel like as much as I love the idea of the Archives and Compendium, it's A LOT of information. You don't have to look at this part of the main menu, but those who are curious will want to check it out like I : Ritual of the Night should have been called Bloodstained: Exploring into the Night. The amount of time you will spend wandering and exploring the map will be probably 90% of what you'll be doing during your time with Miriam. The other 10% is beating bosses and enemies. Gameplay will be pretty simple, as more often than not, you will start walking around and picking up items until you stumble upon someone or something that wants to kill you, talk your ear off or progresses the main story. You may even be lucky enough to find a door and you're actually able to get through said door and hallway without any issue. Trust me, that doesn't happen often.




I did have to ask for help from a friend a couple times because I didn't understand the gameplay at first. If I haven't mentioned it yet, this is my first time with this series, and I've never even heard of Castlevania until now when I was looking up some of the history. All I was told was keep exploring and keep picking up items; you will find what you need in time. After a few hours of searching, I did indeed find what I needed. However, I learned later on that some of the shards give you abilities such as swimming and the power to have a magical giant hand move heavy stuff you're unable to push yourself.

If you know what Castlevania is and have played it in the past, or if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to play Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Do you like quality visuals, audio and gameplay? Go out and get this game NOW. Among all the platforms, I recommend the Xbox One version, as it contains the best graphics and audio, showcasing the beauty that Koji Igarashi envisioned and I am beyond happy that this game is out to the public.

I have never taken over a week to write a review, but this one took a while because I was too busy enjoying all of it from start to finish and didn't want to put it down. I love, love LOVE Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. A lot of heart went into making this amazing title, and it shows. What are you waiting for? Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is waiting... and so is Gebel. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders. No pressure.


Suggestions:
Please make more video games!


Overall: 9.5 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

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