(Available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC)
(Nintendo Switch version used for review)
Castlevania Symphony of the Night Director Koji Igarashi AKA Iga announced at NGPX that the Bloodstained series would continue there Castlevania alternative with Inti Creates’s Bloodstained Curse of the Moon, their alternative to classic Castlevania which was originally a bonus game for the Kickstarter success of the more Symphony of the Night styled game Bloodstained: Ritual of Night, would be getting a sequel simply titled Bloodstained Curse of the Moon 2. Now I actually am a latecomer to the Bloodstained franchise but to see Castlevania style games still being produced since Konami seems content to release retro collections and the Netflix series (which is amazing by the way) I was happy to see more coming out and I actually really liked Bloodstained Curse of the Moon. It was a genially well-made retro revival game in the style of Castlevania 3 and had a good difficulty range which warranted replays for what was a short game. for a bonus game that was not necessarily going to be made it went down better than expected. With Curse of the Moon 2 there is more expectation especially given that Ritual of the Night added more characters and mythology to the franchise so expectation would be higher (though curse of the Moon and Ritual of the night are in separate continuity’s) in spite of low amount of time to build up expectation, it was announced on June 23rd then released on 10th July. The game has now been released after 2 very successful games and it now has a level of expectation and it came in announcing it would be bring back the same gameplay that mimics classic Castlevania from the NES like Castlevania 1 and 3 we enjoyed the first time and adding a co-op mode and 3 new characters to replace Alfred, Gebel and Miriam who became the protagonist of Ritual of the Night. The new characters in their place are Dominique who using long range spear attacks and has a higher jump, Robert a Sniper with excellent long range attacks but low health and Hachi a corgi riding a steampunk mech that has strong Armor attacks but has no access to sub weapons. The new characters are a talking point in of their own but don’t play too much like any classic castlevania architypes like the last game did with Mirriam playing like any one of the Belmont’s, Alfred played like a less effective Seither and Gebel was Alucard all but in name.
- Gameplay: Classic Castlevania is great and the extra spins with choosing to take companions or kill them to give Zangetsu new abilities at a cost of extra continues per life. It also really eases people into the game well with both Casual that has unlimited lives and no knockback when hit and Veteran mode for those that want the challenge along with Nightmare which is unlocked later and mainly there to aggravate you with multiple deaths in whatever free time you get. You may want to try casual mode given that this game is much harder than Curse of the Moon 1.
- Graphics: I’m still really enjoying this look of the game that has been brought over from the first Curse of the Moon, the environments feel like the developers were able to add more ideas and atmosphere and the boss designs also have really interesting designs once again.
- New characters: the new characters really add their own flare to the game. as I mentioned unlike the last game they don’t feel like clones of the cast of Castlevania 3 but still feel like they were made to be in a Castlevania game from that era. It means Bloodstained stands out a bit more as it’s own thing and what’s more they felt way more useful. In Curse of the Moon 1 I found scenarios for Gebel to use him and avoided Alfred unless it was for a boss fight. These characters I found myself swapping between all 4 way more often and it made revisiting levels with all 4 characters unlocked once again really interesting.
- Level design: the design of the levels and bosses were improved and it really takes into account all the individual characters and offers tons of multiple pathways
- Very replayable: not only does the difficulty levels offer more reply ability but the number of episodes which work as playthroughs has been increased and gives ton to unlock with multiple episode 3 depending on which ending you get can unlock a 4th episode with a secret boss which really increases the game time significantly. A bit of advice I would say is get the bad ending to episode 2 first it make things way easier
- The story: story is not really important at this point given that it’s in it’s own timeline but there’s a bunch of little moments that give it a bit more narrative than the first game and it’s greatly appreciated.
- Soundtrack: the soundtrack is good and sets great atmosphere don’t get me wrong but it doesn’t entirely have the same energy and feel that a Castlevania soundtrack would give you. I’m aware that’s a near impossible bar to leap I’ve set it since Castlevania soundtracks are some of the best soundtracks out there but I thought it bared mentioning
- Co-op: it’s a good edition and plays fine though it does break some of the levels which seemed more designed for single player. It also is essentially easy mode for bosses.
- Some segments are near impossible without certain characters: this was a minor issue but in certain parts of the game I found that if I was missing a character like Domanique or Hachi it was near impossible and would be better off killing off the character I had left to restart a bit further back which screwed my progression. There are optional bits which require certain characters which I won’t complain about but when it’s mandatory I’d prefer there weren’t parts that require the foresight to make sure a character lives to a certain point to not be impossible.
- I still hate knockback: I know it was a classic trait of these sorts of games back in the day but I still really find it cheap.
- No online co-op: I really think they should’ve implement online co-op to play with more of our friends but it’s not a feature yet. Seriously put this in an update.
I am really glad this game exists to keep the classic Castlevania style with Konami being unmoved to make any more and Curse of the Moon 2 is an excellent entry which is an improvement over the first. The characters work with their new gameplay styles, the level design gives more challenge and a lot of replayability . the co-op isn’t entirely well thought out but is a welcome edition which I hope will be improved in further games and will get an online multiplayer. It’s not a long game but it’s an enjoyable one and it gets a really good recommendation off me. Be warned though this game is really hard prepare for raised blood pressure
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