By: Devonte Griffiths
Game: Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Rating: T for Teen
Retro revivals of classic gaming franchises have been a dime a dozen over the past few years and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is no different. The main appeal of this particular revival is how well it blends modern facets of game design with a more old school attitude toward creating levels. This masterful blend of old and new makes the game great for both newcomers and fans who love the feel of classic retro games.
The game dwells in its simplicity with the main story revolving around a swordsman named Zangetsu who must stop an archdemon named Gregory in order to stop the Curse of the Moon from driving people insane. Along the way, he encounters numerous travelers that each have their own styles. Each character is distinct and has their own useful skills and drawbacks. Gebel uses bats to attack and can transform into a bat. Alfred has powerful magical spells but also has low health and a weak melee attack. Miriam has a whip with extended reach and multiple sub weapon choices but also has low health and slow movement. Zangetsu has a very short ranged sword that does high damage and has the most diverse set of sub weapons. These traits make each character viable in a multitude of different scenarios.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon definitely has the look of a retro platformer. With lovingly detailed sprites and backgrounds that replicate the original Castlevania’s 8-bit style, the game looks superb. The menus and text that is utilized also help encapsulate the feeling of playing a game from 1987 while also avoiding the clunkiness of menus present at that time. The game’s music is also phenomenal with its own unique tracks as well as homages to memorable music of Castlevania’s past.
The platforming gameplay serves to differentiate itself heavily from its classic inspirations. While it does keep instant death pits and sub weapons that can be obtained throughout levels, it also adds new features like being able to switch characters at any time, with each one having their own life bar. The levels are packed with branching routes and hidden secrets that can be found on repeated playthroughs. These alternate routes can even result in facing a unique boss at the end of the level. Speaking of bosses, each one has a distinct personality and method of attacking shown through their designs and the layout of their boss rooms.
Though the game can be beaten in a mere 4 hours in a single run, the game has so many different routes and alternate ways to play that it could easily be replayed multiple times. The game is great for people who are experienced with platformers and for people who have never played one before. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon easily stands an amazing retro-revival that respects its roots while establishing its own identity.