Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Inti Creates
Price : $9.99
As soon as I started playing Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, it felt familiar and relaxing. It’s authentic graphics, sounds, and controls drew me back into my childhood when the only gaming system was the NES. Curse of the Moon serves as a prequel to Ritual of the Night, and the gameplay present in both of these titles may feel familiar to Castlevania fans, since Castlevania‘s producer, Koji Igarashi (oft referred to affectionately as “Iga”) reprises his role with these new releases.
Violence: Curse of the Moon is an action game with violence toward undead creatures. The characters use melee weapons and spells against the undead. There is no gore; the enemies just disappear with a red pop. Blood smears appear on the walls of some of the levels, and there are some skeletons in the game as well.
Spiritual: The game’s plot is about Zangetsu getting revenge on the demons who cursed him. There aren’t any details as to how they cursed Zangetsu. The game has a lot of gothic horror influences which focuses on the demonic forces and very little on the role of God. In fact, there is no mention of God at all in the game. It is a more humanistic plot relying on the heroes to stop the demons.
I would recommend this game for teens and adults.
The player starts the game as a swordsman named Zangetsu who is cursed by demons, and Zangetsu vows to kill all demons in retaliation. Along the way, Zangetsu meets whip-welding Miriam, the alchemist Alfred, and the cursed alchemist Gebel. Each character adds more dynamic gameplay, which opens up more of the level to the player.
Zangetsu has his sword, and his special powers include a whip and fire-bombs. Miriam, Alfred, and Gebel all have their own unique weapons and powers which are necessary to get to all the corners of each level. All the heroes have separate health bars; this is important as switching between characters is performed by a simple button push. In a boss fight, a player’s best strategy is to fight with the hero who has a bigger health bar, switch to Alfred or Gebel to unleash a devastating spell, and then switch back. Alfred and Gebel are not pushover heroes, though, and I was able to get through many levels with them alone when it was necessary.
When a hero dies, the player will have to finish the level with the remaining heroes in the party. Losing one hero isn’t so bad, but after two or three heroes died, I found my options limited, not only because of the powers each hero has, but also because each level has several different routes to take. A player can finish every level with any hero by taking the easiest route, but some routes can only be accessed by Miriam who has a ground slide, or Gebel who can turn himself into a bat then can fly all over the screen. Some of the more inaccessible routes have special power-ups or get to the end of the level quicker. The main game is admittedly short, but once the player beats the game once, they get access to the nightmare mode which lets them play the levels over again with everyone but Zangetsu. This new mode got me replaying the game immediately, and fans of Metroidvania games in general—or Castlevania titles in particular—would enjoy multiple playthroughs.
The gameplay of Curse of the Moon is so similar to Castlevania III that I played Castlevania III on my son’s Raspberry Pi Emulator just to compare. Curse of the Moon looks very similar but the game benefits from not really being an 8-bit game. The heroes of Curse of the Moon are better-looking and move better than in an NES game. The background of the game has several layers too, which moves while the character is moving. This gives the game’s visuals a sense of depth, which is a big improvement over original NES titles. Curse of the Moon also has a better soundtrack because the music and the sound effects have a larger range of tones to use. Overall, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon looks great and plays better than an 8-bit game.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a great retro game that pays homage to the Castlevania series, while introducing a blend of characters and level design that set this game apart from just being a Castlevania clone. Any player who has been considering purchasing Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night should play through Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon while they’re waiting.
The Bottom Line
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is an amazing retro game that is familiar and fun.