Blood­stained: Rit­ual Of The Night

Castl­e­va­nia’s guid­ing light kick­starts a new age of dark­ness


PC, PS4, Switch, Vita, Xbox One

Devel­oper Inti Cre­ates

Pub­lisher 505 Games

For­mat PC, PS4, Switch, Vita, Xbox One

Ori­gin Ja­pan

Re­lease 2018

Set for re­lease a full decade af­ter the last true 2D Castl­e­va­nia – se­ries fans un­der­stand­ably dis­count loot-ob­sessed co-op ad­ven­ture Har­mony Of De­spair and Lords Of Shadow spin-off Mir­ror Of Fate – pro­ducer Koji Igarashi’s spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to his lauded plat­former-ad­ven­ture se­ries rep­re­sents a some­what more de­layed res­ur­rec­tion than his tra­di­tional vam­piric vil­lain is used to. Not that Drac­ula him­self is the un­dead in­con­ve­nience this time out. Writ­ing a brand new sce­nario in or­der to step com­fort­ably away from Kon­ami’s cur­rently moth­balled of­fi­cial se­ries, Blood­stained trans­poses the ac­tion from Tran­syl­va­nia to merry old 18th century Eng­land, and forges a new fanged threat with not a Belmont in sight. There is, of course, a whip.

Not that the change harms the game’s feel­ing of au­then­tic­ity any more than proxy Counts and in­ter­changable, be­frilled vil­lagers trou­ble the loosely adapted Ham­mer hor­ror films that so clearly in­spire both Castl­e­va­nia and Blood­stained. There’s still a mag­i­cally con­jured cas­tle; there’s still a plucky, multi-skilled hero; and there’s still a fam­ily-fo­cused nar­ra­tive. And this be­ing a game in the item-col­lect­ing, abil­ity-earn­ing, Metroid­va­nia style, there’s a great deal of back-track­ing ex­plo­ration, too.

If the full ex­tent of that isn’t en­tirely com­pre­hen­si­ble in Blood­stained’s E3 demo – clearly a trun­cated, con­densed slice of the bloody ac­tion de­signed to re­late an im­pres­sion of the game’s slow-burn, abil­i­ty­gated progress sys­tem at show-floor-friendly turbo speed – then there is a tan­ta­lis­ing glimpse of it in what isn’t present. Crum­bled pas­sage­ways, locked gates, and seem­ingly im­pos­si­ble-to-reach plat­forms ap­pear in

Don’t be fooled. This chap isn’t cheer­ing on your fancy foot­work. Quite the op­po­site, in fact

TOP Aerial com­bat can be dicey with­out a blade sep­a­rat­ing Miriam from her tar­get. It is, how­ever, stylish enough to war­rant the risk.

ABOVE An­other Castl­e­va­nia holdover. In this grandiose, re­gal strong­hold, most of the cash is found hid­den in­side smashed light fit­tings

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