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Hardcore Gaming 101 / Bloodstained ROTN Review (long overdue)
« Last post by zangetsu468 on January 06, 2022, 11:54:53 PM »
Belated review of Bloodstained ROTN 07.02.21

Sup folks. The fact is that life has been too busy to get around to this… So here it finally is!

Disclaimer: The recap of anomalies I've run into and previously mentioned(some of this will be recalling the post on the ‘first sign rises with the full moon’ thread) are littered throughout this review, mainly in the ‘Less Redeeming Factors’ and some in the ‘Overall Verdict’ sections.

Gameplay/ Controls

Easily one of the best parts of the game and why CV fans keep returning for more. It wasn’t exactly as I like them - floatier & more towards SOTN than AoS - there was nothing inherently bad and they were inherently sound.

One gripe is the use of R3. I would’ve preferred they limited this to the underwater sections(probably unpopular opinion) or as an aiming tool for projectile weapons, rather than use it to push/ pull blocks (see ‘Less Redeeming Factors’ section).

Total =  8/ 10

Music

Disregarding all the negatives instances above, I say without prejudice for myself that the tracks - despite having Yamane - aren't as memorable for me as CV's were. I really prefer Forgotten Jade out of all the tracks although I don’t find them super-memorable.

I do believe we’re no longer in an age that’s as known for iconic tracks that were prevalent in the mid 80’s - 90’s… (I found the same thing with Metroid: Dread and I didn’t dislike any of the tracks, I actually appreciated that they didn’t recycle music in obvious scenarios and it was sparingly done at all(like using the Lower Norfair theme simply in ‘hot’ areas).

Total = 6.5/ 10

Graphics, Presentation, Art Style & Consistency

While the graphics are decent and some of the effects are beautiful (such as the rain/ water on the intro stage) and I appreciate some of the the backgrounds turning while still in a 2d perspective, some of the levels can look static or bland and just feel like they're missing a few minor details, touches or secondary activity in the background. (Like the Castle entrance windows opening and shutting in SOTN with the occasional sound of thunder - I realise this wasn't going to look or feel exactly like SOTN, this is just an example. Metroid Dread uses similar examples via organic life, which was also a trait of Samus Returns).

I'm not personally a huge fan of the style of graphics although for 2.5d they've done a reasonable job and I can appreciate Iga's team revamping the game prior to release. It's disappointing to me that the only piece of artwork (lovely as it is) is painting in the title screen, one thing which does irk me quite a bit is the blown up character sprites during dialogue, because there was a lot of well drawn concept artwork on the Bloodstained KS page and surely they could have used some of this?? I understand leaving the start menu in 3d to showcase Miriam's customisable outfit, I still think there should be some traditional artwork featured, even if these were purely in character portraits during dialogue. For art’s sake, I also appreciated the earlier art where Miriam had bigger hips and a smaller chest. Given Dominique was introduced as a character, this would’ve balanced the books and created more consistent artwork, which honestly, there was nothing wrong with.

There were other minor issues as well, the giant’s den for example, with the large enemies  may have never looked 100% accurate. It simply felt that until the boss fight, the regular demons were executed lazily.

On the plus side, certain areas such as Gebel’s area in the castle and in particular the magma caves(?) area and Glacial Tomb, were really where the graphics and environments shone and stood out more imho.

The biggest disappointment in this department is that the original concept image of in-game graphics looked 5 x better than the final product. This not only screams development issues, it also indicates a sense of the team severely under-delivering a product that isn’t necessarily visually true to its predecessor, SOTN. I’m personally not a graphics person, but I lean towards pixels (it’s not a purist thing, it’s a CV thing. A game like Metroid, whether 2d platformer or fps I prefer 3d in both scenarios). While I appreciate Iga releasing that dramatic trailer with the graphical tweaks, it was great that the fans were appreciated and listened to. However, when playing the game you also realise that yes that was a blessing, but at the same time it was like picking the hardest, most saturated IG filter, applying it to the entire game and saying “job well done”.  One fully understands they didn’t have time to overhaul the entire graphics, but in fairness, nobody forced the concept imagery out of them and they had time to deliver, but missed the mark, conceptually.

Total = 6.5/ 10

Story & Narrative/ Design & Plot Progression

Story & Narrative were okay, nothing we haven’t seen before, but nothing bad per se. Not a whole lot to comment on here.

(3 / 5)

While the overall design, progression etc was generally okay, telling Miriam she needs a ticket to ride the demon train is like telling NES Superman that he needs a pass to get on the Metropolis Subway… I really don’t get this, it’s very Spirited Away, the idea is a bit too fanciful and creates more restraint than wonder, particularly in the playthrough I experienced at the time. The main grievances I hold here are in the ‘Less Redeeming Factors’ section below.

The other element which is a big no-no in this day and age is having to farm and kill a random jellyfish above ground, to get the ‘breathing under water’ soul. That’s some straight up Simon’s Quest-Red Crystal-while proposing to a woman who is actually a cliff-bullshit right there. At the time I was hearing that a boss didn’t make it to the final game, a boss from Curse 1, so they simply made it easy by letting you get access underwater, right??? WRONG.. Had the soul been 100% drop everything time, it would’ve been somewhat excusable, but it wasn’t. Honestly this is poor form and adds nothing of value to this game.

(1/ 5)

Total = 4 / 10

BONUS POINTS’

* Redeeming Factors

- Secret 8-bit area & Secrets in general (Iga incorporated these well) +1
- Multiple additional characters (Zangetsu & Bloodwench); Replayability +1
- Hard mode, which substantially increased Boss Rush’s difficulty; Replayability +1
- Multiple endings & Cutting the moon in half, not once, but twice!! ⚔️ 🌕 💫💥 🌗🌓; Replayability +1
- Innovation: The inverse function; literally turns the game on it’s head +1

(+5)

* Less Redeeming factors (Mainly Game Glitches)

- Upon starting the game for the first time, it crashed on PS4. Once I downloaded patch 1.10, it's not done this since, but I was like wth. I thought initially only the Switch version was plagued with crashing and slowdown issues. -1
- The Livre Ex Machina’s room where you have to use R3 to pull out the blocks to progress, it didn't work the first 2 times I tried it (and no, nothing was done differently to when it worked.) on the third occasion I had already turned the system off and on…. I consulted a walkthrough and it worked on that playthrough...
It seemed that exiting the room and going back in for whatever reason changed something, but no point speculating further is all I can say on that.
If there was a indication that the game had glitched out or something, it would’ve saved a few valuable hours of time. That was rubbish because it should never have been a thing.  zer0; no penalty awarded(Penalised in above section)
- Loading in general and loading related bugs. Example: The boss fight with Zangetsu on the train, I got to the end of the carriages where the Train is and as the fight is about to start, all of a sudden Miriam is outside the boss door, with the timer still running. Not knowing what to make of it, I fudge around for a bit and have enough time left to run back to the start, thinking "maybe you have to escape or jump ship" etc... The game just glitched me out of that screen and I was stuck until the timer ran out. - 1
- During the Dominique fight, she actually bugged out and disappeared off the current astral plane (similar to how you can jump screens in SFII’ Rainbow Edition) with invisibility. She couldn’t hit me, however, I could hit her (score! I guess… ). It wasn’t for the whole fight. zer0; no penalty awarded(odd, but can live with)
- Acquiring the underwater soul or rather knowing how to (mentioned above) zer0; no penalty awarded(Penalised in above section)

(-2)

BONUS POINTS Total = +3


OVERALL VERDICT


I had been looking forward to this mostly after enjoying the shite out Curse of the Moon 1(particularly the second playthrough and how it ends really boosted how good the game was, similarly to DoS’ Julius Playthrough, which I preferred to Soma’s). Initially upon playing Curse 1 (and now Curse 2) I had a suspicion I would prefer this series more than ROTN, although the stages mid-bosses were a bit more Shovel-Knight-esque as opposed to oldschool CV, than I liked, it was a good alternative. (Curse 2 is no exception and I’m liking it slightly better than 1’s first play through at this stage)

Initially I was disappointed with ROTN. Upon getting closer to and finishing the game, I grew more fond of it also realising that the reasons I disliked it are also reasons I shouldn’t have to dislike any game, but unfortunately, most of these ‘less redeeming factors’ are in general, remain dealbreakers for me. They can take a game that should’ve been Legendary (#puNintended) and turn them to less memorable, less enjoyable, even if the replay value is there because you now know what to do. (Note: I’ve still awarded bonus points for replay value) I do believe playing on Hard Mode would make me appreciate the game way more, I just can’t invest the time into it for the moment.

Would I play a ROTN 2?? Yes, but I would wait for spoiler-free reviews and it isn’t something I’d back as a KS or preorder.

I believe it’s safe to say it’s one of those games imo which are better during the second half and gets better, progressively. Slicing the moon in half never felt so satisfying… Even if the blade was (initially) slightly more dull than one would have liked.

Grand total Score = 27/ 40 (67.5%)
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This is something which did not run too far from what I was thought. The whole things they did just doesn't make any sense at all. When you expect something long lost, they not only diss at you, but always offer you something else, plus far worse. That's Konami.
Never put hopes too high to the pitiful company. Castlevania's future relies on somebody else who do care about the IP's true value and do care about the whole 2D action genre.
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they should promise that all funds they receive will go towards the developement of a new Castlevania game, ha.
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Some say Chaos from AoS was comprised solely of Castlevania NFTs….
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I've had hard time understanding what NFTs are, because the explanations I have heard are basically describing the selling of nothing. Paying real money for basically nothing in return, without the consent of the artists that originally created the art being sold as an NFT. It sounds more like a scam than anything else...




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Disappointing how they treat the legacy of a franchise they obviously lost the ability to understand long ago. It's a disgrace. That art isn't even theirs.
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It's almost like they want to be hated...
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I'm confused... Checked the site out and was scratching my head.
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Y'all like Castlevania, right? Do y'all like dogshit NFTs? Well, you're not in luck because Konami, celebrating the 35th anniversary, is literally selling you the bare minimum as NFTs.

Not much more to say here. Just more evidence they really don't care about their properties, and unique to Konami, without the people who made these franchises what they were still at the company, NFTs really might be the best thing they can come up with.
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