You spend forever waiting for a new Castlevania (that isn’t a weird God Of War clone), and two come along at once, albeit under a different name thanks to Konami doing their thing. We’re still waiting on Koji ‘IGA’ Igarashi’s full resurrection with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, but its pseudo-8-bit Kickstarter stretch-goal companion game Curse of the Moon just rolled out on Steam, and by all accounts it’s a lovely piece of old-school whip-crackin’, vampire-bothering fun.
While the full 2.5D Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will be much more of a Symphony of the Night-styled metroidvania (as we’ve come to know the genre), Curse of the Moon is heavily inspired by Castlevania 3, which was a more traditionally linear platformer but with a character-switching twist. In CotM’s case, you’ve got four protagonists, each with their own mobility and combat quirks, with some paths only available to certain characters.
Despite the 8-bit stylings of the game (adhering very much to the formula of Castlevania 3, for the most part), this one gives it the Shovel Knight treatment of removing all the arbitrary sprite limits, as well as extending the playfield to 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s classic Inti-Creates stuff, and in keeping with their other recent retro-styled titles, such as Mighty Gunvolt Burst and Blaster Master Zero.
The game may be relatively short compared to the sprawling metroidvanias of the modern era, but it’s built with replay value in mind. There’s an entire second loop through the game unlocked after completing the main story, with new routes opened through the levels, amped-up boss fights and even some new story beats. From the looks of what I’ve seen on A Raving Loon’s streamed playthrough here, that second loop is pretty dang tough, too, and demands active character-switching in boss fights.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is out now on Steam for £9/$10