How do you like your Castlevania? I prefer mine more action-packed.

My top five.

Castlevania: Bloodlines

Castlevania: Rondo of Blood 

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night.

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia

I feel my list is as hardcore as it is respectable.

If you are itching to have an experience that is in a similar style to the old classics than Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon is a masterful homage to the old school Castlevania games.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is an 8-bit 'esque' side-scrolling gothic horror action platforming game that harks back to the days of yore on the NES and does a great job at emulating that vintage feel and action. It was developed as a stretch goal for Koji Igarashi's kickstarter campaign, where he as one of the original minds behind the Castlevania series vowed to make a game in a similar style to the old classics. Although the main game; Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, is yet to release and will embrace the 'Metroidvania' style of games, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon instead focuses on delivering an experience akin to the very first games in the series with its linear, level based gameplay and brutal yet mostly fair difficulty. It's a 100% love letter / homage to Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse and it doesn't disappoint in the slightest, in fact, it improves upon all of that games shortcomings and then some.

You start the game as a man named Zangetsu who welds a Katana Blade and your off to rid the world of demon's and perhaps save your own mortal soul. Along the way you meet other adventurers, and the main character of the upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Miriam. Along the way you meet an old sorcerer named Alfred and a character named Gabel who's a complete knock off of everyone's beloved Dhampir Alucard. I should be fair, the entire cast is a remix of other characters from the Castlevania series but Gabel is the one who stands out the most.

Obviously the visuals are very classic Castlevania, but the design principals also harken back to those old games. The ability to switch between up to 4 different characters on the fly gives the player a lot of options in terms of how to approach a given situation, rewarding thoughtful and strategic play. Since each character gets their own sub-weapon, this also adds a small element of inventory management, as you generally want to keep a good balance of sub-weapons that can tackle a variety of scenarios.

There are multiple paths through each stage, the shortest path always being straight down the middle, there's also indicators that tell you which path is the easiest / shortest through each stage via skeletal corpses pointing you in the right direction. There are no consequences for taking the shortest path either, in fact, most of the permanent upgrades are on those paths, so depending on which characters you have alive at the time will determine if you can take the easier route through most stages.

Curse Of The Moon just feels fantastic. You are really rewarded for out thinking any potentially difficult bits instead of just brute force. The games run time on normal mode, first play through took me about 90 minutes and I had very little issues getting through each stage. The dev's spoon feed you in this game and if you need a specific sub-weapon for a particular section, they usually give it to you just before hand. That's not to say the game isn't challenging or fun however, more long lived gamers will see right through this games tricks as it doesn't really do anything new here, it just emulates a hardcore experience for a modern day age.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was released digitally for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, 3DS, Vita, and PC on May 24 and will cost you just $9.99. If you already backed the main Bloodstained game at the $28 tier or more, then you will receive Curse of the Moon for free. So, download it already.

-Dagobot



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Tags: bloodstained: curse of the moon , bloodstained: ritual of the night , Castlevania