Following Mighty No. 9‘s disastrous launch, it’s easy to be cynical of similar projects promising the spiritual resurrection of a beloved franchise. However, if Mighty No. 9 is to be a case study on how not to release a game, it seems as though its cousin Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will be its opposite.
Koji Igarashi, father of Castlevania and the head of the Bloodstained project recently showcased a demo at E3 to show the steady progress that has been made since the project ended just over a year ago. At the time it was the top funded video game Kickstarter ever, raising $5.5 million and beating out Mighty No. 9’s previous record. Their enjoyment of the top spot didn’t last too long, however, as Bloodstained lost this title to Shenmue 3 about a month later.
When I first got word that backers were getting a steam copy of this demo I was ecstatic. I’m still not expecting this game to come out for a while, but to get the chance to see which direction the game is headed helped to re-affirm my investment. It’s a short demo to be sure, but it packs in just enough gameplay and environment to get me excited for what’s to come.
The demo features Miriam aboard a creaking ship, battling ghosts and demons as she makes her way towards the deck. The game controls very similarly to the classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, from the backwards slide and jump-control to the various pieces of equipment Miriam can use. There are only a handful of different enemies to fight, but they scale naturally through the demo to get you accustomed to the combat. At the start you encounter quite a few octopus-like monsters that are very passive and effectively act like punching bags for you. Then there are some floating fire ghosts that are reminiscent of the medusa heads from the classic series (I still have nightmares about those hitting me mid-jump and sending me to my death). Still, I was feeling pretty confident…until I came up against my first mace-swinging knight that required a bit more timing. My initial impression is that we’re not talking Salt & Sanctuary level difficulty here, but that’s not really what the backers/gamers are looking for anyways.
Along those lines: the combat is simple, but with so many variations of equipment and magic it’s easy it always manages to keep things fresh. Of course, once the full game comes out we’ll get a much better understanding of the breadth and depth of the weapons, armor, shields and magic that each character can use.
All of my battles led to a boss fight involving tentacles and a…uh…well-endowed enemy. After many well-placed slashes across her, uh, weak spot, the battle ends suddenly. The end! Yet, it motivated me to play through yet again, and again. That’s one of the best things about this demo – the fact that it’s so short makes it easy to come back to again and again.
As I played through, encountering these various monsters, I couldn’t help but appreciate the pacing and presentation of this very brief demo. Like a well-crafted portfolio, it showcased (briefly) all of the elements that backers of this game are looking for. While it’s meant to be a spiritual successor of Castlevania as a whole, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I backed it hoping for another title similar to the 1997 classic, Symphony of the Night. If this brief glimpse is any indication, I think that it will deliver the kind of game that nearly 70,000 backers are hoping for.
Did you get a chance to check out the E3 demo? Let us know your thoughts in our comments or on our Discord server!