Surprise Blood Stains
As briefly mentioned in my Streets of Rage 4 review, the Bloodstained “franchise” has been a bit hit and miss for me. While I quite thoroughly enjoyed the Kickstarter reward game, Curse of the Moon, I was a bit let down by the main course, Ritual of the Night.
So when a surprise announcement was made that Curse of the Moon 2 was not only in the works but mere weeks from dropping for release, I was as surprised about it as much as that time I shat a plum.
Another Moon, Another Curse
The player once again takes up the role of Zangetsu, a swordsman on his journey to vanquish some tower that’s shown up out of nowhere or something like that. Along the way, the player will meet up with other characters who will join the party. Unlike the first CotM, though, the player isn’t given the option of taking the new character along, ignoring them, or killing them. At least on the first playthrough, every character joins your party by default.
The complementary characters are a little more diverse this time around. There’s Dominique, a character people familiar with RotN should have some familiarity with. There’s also a dude with a gun who does Ninja Gaiden style wall jumps and a corgi in a super-powered mech.
The additional characters from the first game are available on later playthroughs, but I have not reached that point yet, but it’s nice the developers threw all the toys in the sandbox for us to play with as we please.
It’s nice to see this game still offer the option to do a “Causal” play through as I’m an old man with stuff to do, and I don’t have time to sit around playing levels designed to frustrate; I’ve got drinking to do, dammit! The Casual style gives the player infinite lives and prevents the character from falling backwards if they take damage. The “Veteran” option is available for Asian kids and people who want a challenge.
Each stage retains multiple branching paths, which often require one of the alternate characters in order to access new sections. It’s not a Metroidvania by any means, but the branching paths helps add replay value to the game as the main game can be finished in under two hours, but completing it will require multiple playthroughs. At the time of this writing, I’ve only finished the first playthrough, and the second time through feels much more difficult, even playing on Casual.
The music retains the feel that made the Castlevania games so memorable; although, nothing that really sticks in my head like “Vampire Killer.”
Well Met My Son!
I still miss the old Castlevania-style enemies, but the sequel helps to bring them in line a little more than the random amalgamation of whatever that infected the first game. Floating skulls and shooting spiders are back, and, God help me, the new Bloodstained enemies are doing their best to become iconic in their own way.
The bosses have been given a healthy injection of steroids, but outside of the first level’s Griffin boss, I can’t really recall anything too interesting.
The Sea Bitch from RotN is and is only memorable because it’s a slight derivation from the others, and the final boss felt like Dracula from Symphony of the Night. What doesn’t help with making the boss battles memorable is that thanks to the Corgi’s invincibility power, they are more or less an afterthought.
The game controls like one would expect, but, at least for the Xbox version, the jumps felt hit and miss. This is only exacerbated in a later stage that requires platforming across multiple moving platforms. The corgi-mech has limited flying ability, but this too seemed a bit hit and miss.
New to the sequel is the option to play two-player. I haven’t tried this yet, as my wife refuses to play any video game that isn’t a slightly interactive movie, and my kid would just slow me down. Unlike me, if you have friends, then I’m sure it makes for a good time and could take some of the tedium out of multiple playthroughs.
Perhaps The Same Can Be Said Of All Religions
This game is currently available for $15.00 on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC, a $5.00 increase from the original. If you’re a fan of the original, then the purchase is a no brainer. If you’ve yet to hop onto the bandwagon, start with the original, and if it dingles your berry, then go ahead and pick up this one, too.
After playing the first pass, I wish the $10.00 price point had stayed, as I’m not sure how much I can make myself go through the same game multiple times. If the Sega Genesis Classics collection wasn’t currently on sale on Xbox for less than this game, it would be a little easier to stomach. However, I also see the value in supporting the franchise in order to keep in going and hopefully finally get that game that truly scratches the Castlevania itch I’ve had for years, or maybe that’s just the crabs…