Koji Igarashi is the genius behind Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. A game that many younger people might not remember but is still hailed as one of the best side-scrolling action games ever made. When a certain gaming company fired two of the smartest people they ever employed, Igarashi and Kojima, the former decided he would continue his masterpiece with Artplay and 505 Games and gave us Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. If you are unfamiliar with the game it started as a Kickstarter project (2015) and finally, after four years, this weebtastic, 2.5D, side-scrolling treasure is ours to enjoy.

A Tale To Be Told

Since Iga can’t just throw us another helping of Belmont vs. Dracula our way, he has re’vamp’ed (get it?) his story where we now play as Miriam, an alchemy experiment waifu (This writer’s attempt at adoration). Along with her friend, a man named Gebel, she was part of an experiment basically was trying to transplant the essence of demons into her body. This demonic power comes in the form of glass shards, thus she is dubbed a Shardbinder. The unfortunate part for her and Gebel is, more shards you absorb the more you let go of your humanity. Gebel, with the help of a few high-powered demons, he let this happen and then became our antagonist for the game.

Gebel now has the sudden urge to fill the world with demons, all from the comfort of a giant castle that has been summoned by some paranormal force. This enormous, sprawling, never-ending, insane castle. The castle design is gorgeous. It is full of heavy chandeliers, grim-looking statues, towers, wonderfully designed backgrounds, and oh, of course, dangerous monsters keeping watch. I’ve sunk hours into this game since it’s release and it never seems to end. You can always find new power-ups to help you get further into the maze. From the starting entrance hall to the gardens, the climbing towers and even the volcanic caves below and that’s not even a quarter of what you will see and find. In fact, every room of this castle is waiting to be plundered be it by monster or treasure (HINT: If a wall looks fake it might actually be).

As you play don’t forget to be on the look out for some amazing call back, gaming, and pop culture references. I have seen tons of them including Shovel Knight and One Piece references. There are just so many.

Fight With All Your Heart…And Glass Powers

Combat in this game ranges from mindless to Dark Souls-esk in terms of difficulty. There are so many creatures that can be killed without blinking an eye while some of the bosses need to be handled in a way more thought out way. While early on, so you can get the way the game is played, the enemies feel very docile, in the way you anticipate. The respawning enemies are a quick and easy way to level up Miriam. Has time goes on and you find cool new powers and weapons, you’ll notice the castle giving you some harder baddies to deal with. Unless you happen to go back towards the beginning (which you should do every so often to sell stuff you don’t need) and the enemies just melt at your very existence.

Some of the weapons you’ll find are fun to play with, others are powerful as all heck but not conducive to your surroundings, and then your favorites. While I found so many weapons to try and were great to try once or twice, I found myself sticking to the powers and weapons I enjoyed playing with, mostly whips.

That doesn’t mean you won’t find the swords, or guns, or staffs, or many of the other weapons your own personal favorites. One of the best parts of Bloodstained is that everyone’s choices will be different when it comes to weapons. When you get right down to the mechanics, most of this game is a beautiful hack-and-slash that is complemented by a flexible array of magic attacks, and if you are a Castlevania fan, you will find familiar tricks and maneuvers. However, if you are new to this venture then strap on tight because you have some figuring out to do. I promise you will have fun with it though.

The powers that come in the form of shards are definitely the most intriguing part of the Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. There are certain colors that match your button landscape and will help you out in your journey. Everything from summoning a beast to your side to your very useful double jump. The combos that can come from these still make me laugh while I play. The best part is the more you gather the more you can upgrade them. So, upgrading something small, like the Ghost shard (which lets you summon a ghost) can sometimes be more useful in combat than a level one Dragon Summon.

It’s Just So Pretty

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is so pretty. While it’s simple, cell shaded, and only 2.5D, it is the upgraded version of Castlevania that I have wanted since 1997. I didn’t want some 3D adventure. This was the perfect way to update an amazing spiritual successor. The original design for Miriam and Gebel is classy badass and it works on every level. The stained glass all over her and Gebel’s bodies is awesome as well and really make the character pop.

While her dress never changes no matter what you equip as armor, the accessories do. You can even give Miriam a new hairdo. There are so many different ways to make your waifu a truly grand spectacle. All of the characters, monsters, and environments really are colorful and distinct and it is so refreshing to see from most of today’s brown-scaped FPS games.


I’m not going to sit here and pretend that this game is better than it’s an original creation. However, in my opinion, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night comes pretty damned close. It may be a call back to when games were are their peak, but it was a refreshing change from some of the games that come out today. Side-scrolling action RPGs may be a thing of the past but Koji Igarashi shows he is still the king of this domain.

The art and music are amazing, the gameplay is solid, the characters are likable. If I had to give it a flaw, I would say, maybe watching a woman being impaled on a glass crystal shard every time she finds one can be tedious, but otherwise this game is a perfect example of its genre. Bloodstained is the game I have been waiting for almost 25 years for and it is exactly want I wanted and more. Thank you Koji Igarashi.

You can find Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4, and now Nintendo Switch priced at $39.99.

Don’t forget that in addition to the normal game with all its alternate endings, players will receive more than a dozen DLCs that will be free and released post-launch, these include Online and Local Co-op and VS. mode, Roguelike mode, Boss Rush, Chaos mode and Nightmare Difficulty. Secret playable characters are also awaiting discovery, increasing the replay value even further. Also the Speed Demon Update, which adds optimized graphics, visuals and balance, in addition to Speed Run Mode, Boss Rush Mode, and the Pure Miriam Outfit.

For more information about the upcoming DLC for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, please visit: https://www.playbloodstained.com.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review
The Good
  • The Art And Music Are Both Amazing
  • Story Is Interesting Enough
  • Map and World Is Enormous, Never Ending, And Never Dull
The Bad
  • Little To Nothing To be Honest
  • The Shard Stabbing, I Guess
10Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

John D
Chief Operating Officer

John Donadio a.k.a. SomeBeardy2Love is the COO here at GAW. He once had a show that he produced, wrote, and co-hosted called the Wide World of Games, you can probably find it on youtube. He is also a co-host on a podcast called Party Up! John is an Action-Adventurer, platformer, RPGer, and FPS kind of gamer. Quick to play any game that has magic, swordplay, and/or stealthy elements. If you can customize a character he is in it for the long haul or just give me your 2D platform and he's a happy camper. What else do you expect from a gamer with a beard and a bow tie tattoo? Seriously.