A brief history of Metroidvania
Metroidvania games started in the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1986. The term “Metroidvania” is actually the combination of two games from Metroid and Castlevania series where both games are released on Nintendo and Family Computer Disk System followed by other gaming platforms on their sequels in the following years later. Side-scrolling games never get old and will always be cherished up until today. There are a plethora of Side-scrolling games that are available right now on different gaming platforms like PlayStation Store, Xbox Store, and Steam that are still being favored by many. One of the successful series and revered games up until now is the Castlevania games especially Symphony of the Night.
A long journey has finally ended
One of the creators of this game is Koji Igarashi also known as Iga. He was the programmer, writer, and assistant director of the game then later became as the lead producer on the Castlevania series starting from Castlevania Chronicles back in 1999 and ending with the Harmony of Despair in 2011 that was also shown at E3 2010. He later left Konami to form his own studio then made the spiritual successor of the SOTN known as the Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It started on Kickstarter back in 2015 to seek help to fund his upcoming game. Then four years later, the game is finally released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam). This game is developed by ArtPlay, published by 505 Games, and directed by Shutaro Iida. It is mainly written and directed by Koji Igarashi.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a side-scrolling and Role-Playing-Game that tells the story of a Shardbinder named Miriam who pledges to perish all demons summoned by his friend Gebel and must make her way to the castle full of demons to stop him. The mechanics of the game is really close to the Castlevania: Symphony of the Night like moonwalking, character leveling, weapons, armors, and misc equipment that can be replaced anytime. Leveling up in the game is not easy but when you have the right equipment and right place to grind the exp, grinding will be easy rather exploring the map from the beginning to the end of it that will take so much time. There are different types of weapons in this game to annihilate every enemy that you encounter while roaming the map and they have their own weakness so it’s better to know it to use it as an advantage.
Arsenals and Equipment
Dagger, Sword, G-Sword (Greatsword), Rapier, Spear, Whip, Firearm, and Shoes used for martial arts. Since I fancy Swords and Greatswords, my Waifu Miriam always uses it for defeating her enemies. When it comes to defense, the best armor must be equipped in order to mitigate any incoming damages from the enemies that will try to attack you. Increasing the defense and other status resistance will require the right armor and misc equipment to prolong your battle against enemies especially to bosses.
Items and Skills
Item drops including equipment from the enemies and bosses are based on the Luck stats of the character but it can be increased by equipping the right item to boost the luck stats. Aside from depending on the Luck, RNG or Random Number Generator can also turn the tables even without having the right item to increase the drop rate. Passive Abilities and Skills can be obtained and used by equipping shards in the main menu screen. Shards are equipable and can be replaced by other shards to pass through any obstacles in the game like having the double jump and invert shard. Shards can be obtained from the enemies after defeating them. The drop rate of shards from the enemies especially from bosses are like items and other equipment that still depend on the RNG but the chances can be increased when equipping the right items to increase luck. Summoning an ally is also the ability of a shard and there are various of shards to summon different and stronger allies to fight alongside with you. Exploring and completing the map 100% is quite tedious but also a way to discover new things like weapons, item, optional bosses, skills, and completing optional quests.
Items and Weapons Crafting
Like any other RPGs and JRPGs, Bloodstained: ROTN has also adapted the crafting of items including healing items, weapons, armor, and misc items. It is a huge leap from the Castlevania series and making it a large pool of craftable items. Stronger items can be crafted by obtaining specific recipe books that are found throughout the game. Thus exploring the map even if the story of the game is completed is a must to boost the character’s stats aside from leveling up. Crafting can seriously take some time to get rare materials that are needed to craft a specific item. Like I have mentioned before, it can be easily done by equipping an item that will boost the luck of the character to increase the drop rate of the item needed.
Saving the game and Fast traveling on the map
Saving the game is easy to ensure that you will not go back again from the start when the game is over. The save game is highlighted in the map as Red and when you entered, there will be a sofa in front of the vampire-like statue that will fully heal your HP and MP. Most Save Rooms are near in the bosses’ area/room so be sure to save your progress before engaging a non-escape battle. Moving from one place to another location is tedious and will be time-consuming, that is why fast-travel is always there to aid your character to move into a specific location near to your objective/s. Fast-travel can be done by accessing a specific room just like saving the game. Fast travel room can be found on the map that indicates a green color and once your character enters it, a stain glass window is at the middle of it. Take note that the fast travel rooms must be explored first before using it.
Boss Rush Mode and Speed Run Mode
Defeating a boss takes some time and strategies are needed in order to prevail. Luck can sometimes beat bosses on every game generally but luck is never an excuse when you know you have died a hundred times and cannot progress in the game because of the undefeated enemy. After finishing the game, Extra mode will be unlocked in the main menu screen. There two modes in Extra Mode; Boss Rush Mode and Speed Run Mode. Boss Rush Mode is a feature that lets you re-battle all the boss in the story mode. Limited healing items are provided and there are no consumable healing items that are dropped when a boss is defeated. Nevertheless, HP and MP can be fully regenerated when warped back to the hall after beating a boss. Be cautious on your Health and Mana before fighting the next enemy because when the game is over in Boss Rush mode, you will start all over again from the first boss. Another challenge to take is the Speed Rune Mode that must be finished. This will create a temporary save data file and it will automatically save when entering another area on the map but the save data files will be erased after returning to the title screen.
New Game Plus and Game Difficulties
There are three difficulties to pick before starting a new game; Normal, Hard, and Nightmare (will be unlocked once the hard mode is finished). If you are new on to this kind of game, then I suggest to play it on Normal mode to familiarize it and experience the game before prepping up for the harder mode. If the game is finished, there will be an option to choose if the player wants to start the game on New Game + or want to remain in the current progress to complete other unlockables before playing it. When it comes to the New Game + feature, enemies are still the same and their health and damage to the character have not increased. Their damage output and health be will increased when Nightmare mode is chosen. Some important items like key items, weapons, armor, misc, and shards will not carry over. It must be earned again by defeating the same enemies and locating it again scattered around the map.
A game that is well planned and developed
The game has very much resemblance to the Symphony of the Night since Koji Igarashi also created it that is why the battle mechanics, scenes and the style of the game are really close to the SOTN and other series of the game. The game can be finished and completed by playing 10 hours that depends on the difficulty. The nostalgic Boss Rush mode also returns that add and give a more Castlevania vibe. The initial release date of the game includes a paid DLC that lets you battle Iga himself as an optional boss and a quest. Defeating him will complete a special 0quest and will receive the sword whip as a reward from the quest. Iga announced in the video trailer that more free DLCs are coming in the future like Zangetsu will be playable and two more playable characters. One is still unknown, the other one is the Shovel Knight that can be unlocked and played in the game by equipping the shovel knight armor. New modes will also be part of the Free DLCs like Chaos Mode, Classic Mode, and a Boss Revenge Mode. Coop online/offline and versus mode will also be available soon in future DLCs. Before this game was finalized, they have also released a prequel or what others call a spin-off to the game. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is an 8-bit 2D game as a prelude to the next installment of the Bloodstained series.
A Prelude to more Igavania Games
With that in mind, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a game that will make you play its predecessor games like the Castlevania games and other side-scrolling games even in 2D. This game has not given me a reason to uninstall it and play another game without finishing it. The game is addicting and enjoying until you reached the maximum level and completed all the items and quests. If you want more of the game, then you can start another game with a harder difficulty like the Nightmare mode or finish the Extra Modes. Metroidvania games like Hollow Knight, Dead Cells, old Castlevania games, and other known Metroidvania side-scrolling games are fun to play starting from old games up to the indie games that are available right now in different gaming platform store. Although this game is called Igavania since one of the developers and head creator of this game is Iga, it is still like the other Metroidvania games out there but with more depth, improved story, and gameplay. There are lots to be expected in the game and its upcoming sequels. Probably, more announcements will be made soon by Iga himself. Overall, the game is good and it has a full potential that will impact other gamers to play this game especially those who played Castlevania games. If this game will be rated on a scale of 1 to 10, then it is a 10/10 for me.