Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon Review
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (CotM) is a retro platformer inspired by Castlevania. Bloodstained: COTM acts as a prequel story to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. The player takes on the role of Zangetsu, a man who hates demons and must locate and destroy Gremory, the Duke of Hell. The player will come across 3 unique allies throughout the adventure and traverse through 8 uniquely themed levels destroying demons and bosses along the way.
Sub-Weapons/Utility: Every character has a primary attack, which utilizes their on-hand weapon such as a sword or whip. To supplement this primary attack, every character can get sub-weapons which can be used to cover the weaknesses of a character’s main weapon. Furthermore, whilst a character can only hold 1 sub-weapon at a time, there are a total of 3 or 4 different sub-weapons (Excluding Gebel) which can be used to help clear out certain sections of a stage. This means that players will have to strategize and only take a sub-weapon from a blue lantern if it will be effective for latter sections of a stage. Sub-weapons offer tremendous utility and allows for combination with primary attacks to navigate through platforms or kill bosses. For example, Alfred, the mage, can obtain an ice attack. This ice attack is a projectile which freezes all enemies in its path. Attacking the frozen enemies will insta-kill them. Additionally, frozen enemies also act as a physical platform to jump to a hard to reach location. The ice attack can also be used to freeze rivers or lava which will shatter upon being attacked to reveal secret passages.
Many other sub weapons can be used for utility, such as Gebel’s Bat form which allows him to fly. This allows access to hard to reach locations or shortcuts available in the stage. Whilst the straight forward use for sub-weapons would normally be considered as an offensive item, Bloodstained: COTM breaks the general trend by opting to incorporate many uses for sub-weapons. They can be used offensively and defensively whilst also being used for utility throughout the stage in regards to secrets and shortcuts.
Four Playable Characters: Bloodstained: CotM starts with the player using Zangetsu as the primary main character. As Zangetsu journeys throughout the land, he can recruit 3 additional characters: Miriam, Alfred and Gebel. The main benefit of having 4 playable characters is the diversity they bring to the game as each character has their own benefits and drawbacks and can be swapped when required. Zangetsu acts as a fast attacking sword user. Miriam has a higher jump and a longer attack range due to using a whip and a slide. Alfred has a very short attack range and weak damage but has utility with his very powerful spells which can act as a shield to block enemy attacks. Gebel’s attack releases 3 bats which arc upwards allowing the player to hit enemies above. When all 4 characters are combined, they can be used to overcome all obstacles in the game. Whilst each character is unique, they also provide access to shortcuts and secrets in the levels. Miriam can traverse through small gaps by using her slide ability; this acts as a shortcut to skip many difficult sections but can also lead to permanent stat upgrades. Due to the large number of shortcuts available in stages, every character is given the chance to be used and exploited for their strengths.
Replayability and game modes: Whilst Bloodstained: CotM is a relatively short game consisting of 8 main stages, the game offers a plethora of replayability due to the large abundance of game modes and the number of different available endings. Endings are obtainable by recruiting, ignoring or killing recruitable characters throughout the story. There are a total of 6 main endings for the story mode. In addition to the story mode offered, there are additional modes such as Nightmare Mode, in which you play as Miriam, Alfred and Gebel and Ultimate mode, a harder version of the game with bosses being harder to kill. The trade-off is that Zangetsu has his ultimate form giving him unique skills. The final mode in the game is Boss Rush. Boss rush is a gauntlet of every boss in the game back-to-back. There are limited sub-weapons and health items during this mode therefore the player must use them wisely. Despite that, there are cheat codes which can be used to augment boss rush mode to add diversity. Some of these cheats can allow the player to use Ultimate Zangetsu instead of normal Zangetsu, increase the difficulty or allow the player to have infinite weapon points for their sub-weapons.
Boss Battles: Every stage in Bloodstained: CotM caps off with a boss fight to test your skills. Bosses range from twin headed dragons to small anthropomorphic Lizards and Peacocks. Whilst the first few bosses start off being relatively simple, the latter bosses elevate the difficulty, increasing the precision required to successfully defeat them and minimize damage taken. These boss fights are fair as the attacks are telegraphed before executed, giving ample time to react and incorporates environmental platforms for dynamism and strategy. This modifies the generic, catatonic and mundane boss formula from 1 versus 1 in a long hallway, to large expansive arenas with protruding platforms, requiring the player to be quick and nimble to avoid attacks and deal damage to the boss. Additionally, the bosses will initialize a final kamikaze attack to wipe you out. Therefore, even when they are defeated, they will try everything they can in a final all out attack to kill you, requiring the player to be alert even when they see the boss fall to the ground or start to dematerialise.
Music: Music is always present in game and often molds the atmosphere as the player adventures through their story. Bloodstained: CotM features 15 unique songs, 8 of which play in the main stages. Each piece offers something different; some tracks are fast paced whilst others are calming. The soundtracks used corroborate with the stage the player is currently at. Bloodstained: CotM’s soundtrack definitely draws parallels to the Castlevania soundtrack due to both being composed by Michiru Yamane. As stated, it’s hard to convey music through explanation and description and it is recommended to listen to the soundtrack in Bloodstained: CotM, with a notable mention to the “Sunder the Night” OST.
Unavailable: Fortunately, there are no major downsides to Bloodstained: CotM.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a prequel to the upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Whilst being a retro themed platformer, it perfectly holds up as a well-crafted game. The music, controls, characters, gameplay and story are all exceptional. This is definitely a game to experience.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was developed and published by INTI CREATES. It was released for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One [reviewed] on June 6th, 2018. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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