riostarwind's Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (PlayStation 4) review

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Maintaining a retro style while keeping it fun in a modern context is tough, yet they managed to walk that line here.

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Why not finish off my unofficial retro remake review month with a new game. A new game that is 100% a reimagined take on Castlevania III. It takes elements of the original game like swapping characters and expands on their usefulness in a modern context. Making all the sub weapons and allies much more key to making sections of the game easier. While still letting the player decide how hard they want the game to be. Before I get into that I should describe the story first.

Beating the game solo is no easy task although you can earn extra moves if your willing to delve into the dark arts.
Beating the game solo is no easy task although you can earn extra moves if your willing to delve into the dark arts.

Zangetsu is seeking a demon lord that has recently appeared in the world. Having been cursed by demons he plans to wipe out them all out and this is his latest dive into darkness. After picking up his sword he heads out to make his way to the top the castle. Along the way he frees imprisoned people that have also been cursed but are they trustworthy?

Although it isn’t obvious during the first playthrough I became aware it was possible to deal with the allies you find in different ways. Which leads to a entirely different ending depending on the choices you make. While they aren’t super crazy different in most cases they did a good job of making me want to play through the game multiple times. Yet that is only thanks to how well crafted the gameplay is.

Beating able to attack enemies from below is always nice.
Beating able to attack enemies from below is always nice.

The core of the game is just jumping around a level and using a variety of weapons to take down enemies. Each of the 4 characters have a different way of attacking. Zangetsu uses a fast sword that can attack faster than the rest. Miriam has a whip and very much plays like a classic Belmont. Alfred is a weak old man but he does have some sick magic spells. Gebel can turn into a bat and shoot bats like he’s some sort of vampire. Taken as a group each one lets the player deal with certain enemy types better than the rest. For example being able to walk jump through the room without having to worry about flying enemies thanks to Alfred’s fire shield is extremely useful. These subweapons that are gained by breaking blue candles will also lead the player down alternate routes that aren’t available if you don’t have a certain character. Which adds a bit of variety to how I ended up playing through every stage each time I started a new playthrough.

Replay value is very strong in this game. Sure you’ll mostly be replying the same stages over and over again. Yet the various different types of playthroughs it is possible to do kept it interesting enough for me to see all 6 endings. Additionally it is a very short game with a very reasonable level of difficulty. Sure deaths will happen but none of the challenges ever seem like something that came out of the NES era other than a few moments in the very last level.

Evil paintings that kill in one hit isn't something I wanted to see again.
Evil paintings that kill in one hit isn't something I wanted to see again.

For someone that didn’t really get into Castlevania till SOTN I was surprised at how much I liked this game. All of the levels are well designed and never seem impossible even if your running around as the old guy. The bosses are neat but they do seem to lean on a more modern style. Which still looks good even if it doesn’t mesh with the 8 bit look. Not a huge issue so if you like classic Castlevania then this is a game worth playing.

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