As much faith as I have in Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night as a game, the Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night spiritual successor (headed up by SOTN director Koji Igarashi) has looked a little rough up until now. Today, along with announcing a June 18th release date, developers ArtPlay put out a a very self-aware new trailer, highlighting just how far the game has come. Character designs are improved, the lighting is overhauled and the backdrops not only look far nicer, but are much better differentiated from the foreground action. Take a look for yourself below.
Igarashi never misses a chance to dress up as Dracula and throw glasses around, although I can't help but notice he completely drained his wine before throwing it. Not a drop wasted, although he might just be, depending on how many takes that shot took. His dramatic vow to prove his critics wrong looks to have paid off, too. The game is looking much nicer now, although I'll still miss Symphony Of The Night's beautifully animated and endlessly re-used sprites. I could still nitpick a little (the lion-man boss does not stick that landing gracefully) but my complaints are few.
As a game, it looks like more Symphony Of The Night, which defined the term 'Metroidvania'. That means non-linear platforming, exploration, and a greater focus on loot, levelling and character building than regular Metroid-inspired games. Similar to the later DS Castlevania games, protagonist Miriam can steal abilities from enemies which act as a fairly complex magic system. There are summons, stat-boosting enchantments and conjured projectiles on top of a range of basic melee weapons that you can loot and equip. It's this kind of freedom to play around with its systems which makes 'Igavania' games so beloved by regular folks and speedrunners alike. I'm excited to see how deep the rabbit-hole goes in this one.
Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night launches on June 18th, and you can find it here on Steam, published by 505 Games. In the meantime, you might also want to check out pseudo-8-bit prequel Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon, developed by Inti Creates. It's rather good, and is £9/€10/$10 on Steam.