Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a 2.5D horror-fantasy side-scrolling platformer-adventure game developed by ArtPlay (in conjunction with DICO, WayForward, and Inti Creates) and published by 505 Games for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC (digitally via Steam) on June 18, 2019, with a Nintendo Switch release on June 25, 2019.
The first title from indie studio ArtPlay (co-founded by ex-Konami designer Koji Igarashi), Bloodstained is a spiritual successor to Igarashi’s games in the Castlevania franchise (most notably the 1997 Castlevania: Symphony of the Night). Built on Unreal Engine 4, much of the game plays similarly to the games it’s based off (including non-linear backtrack-focused exploration and RPG-style attribute, inventory, and experience systems).
The story takes place in 18th century England, where a guild of alchemists created “Shardbinders”: humans who are fused with cursed crystals (granting them supernatural powers) and are sacrificed to summon demons. Ten years prior to the game’s events, the guild was unable to control the destruction and was destroyed along with most of the country, leaving the Church of England to banish the demons themselves. When surviving Shardbinder Gebel begins amassing an army of demons in his castle (the Hellhold) intending on invading England, it’s up to Miriam (another Shardbinder who was spared her sacrifice due to falling into an unnatural ten-year slumber) to stop him.
As Miriam, players must approach and navigate the castle while defeating numerous demons and gaining new weaponry (including swords, whips, firearms, and basic martial arts) and attribute-boosting equipment. In addition, Miriam can gain new magical abilities by defeating enemies and binding their “Shards” onto her (similar to the “Tactical Soul” system of Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and its sequel). With help from former guildmember Johannes, Miriam can also use alchemy to craft items and equipment using random materials found throughout the castle.
The game is known for its high-profile Kickstarter funding, raising $5,545,991 between May 11, 2015 and June 12, 2015 (the highest at that time). Versions of the game for the Wii U and PlayStation Vita were planned, but later cancelled. Funded stretch goals will be released periodically as free updates in 2020, including additional playable characters and game modes. The game also received a deliberately-retro companion game a year prior, titled Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon.
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