Game review by Joost T Slooterweg (QA Tester at Abstraction)
As a kid I stumbled into playing Castlevania Symphony of the night, and I loved it. All the exploration, the huge variation in monsters, gear, and environments, it kept me hooked for hours. It might have been the first game I ever fully finished, but since the Playstation 1 did not have Trophies or Cloud storage I can never prove this feat to anyone. So when I heard that the Programmer/writer for Symphony of the Night, Koji Igarashi, was working on a new game that would be made in the same spirit, I knew I needed to get it!
Bloodstained focuses on the same principles, and I am once again hooked. The graphics are gorgeous, detailed and varied landscapes and other backdrops against which bright spell effects leap out at you and grotesque monsters do likewise. The variety I know and love from Symphony can be seen here as well, so many monsters, armors, weapons, and other items to collect. All of these neatly tracked in checklists, just how I like it.
The gameplay is addictive, you have control of Miriam, a woman with the ability to cast spells and use every weapon the game throws at you. She will gain new abilities by collecting the “Shards” that monsters sometimes leave behind, and will build up an impressive arsenal throughout the game. Here also, look for the Symphony staples, some abilities will allow you to explore areas that you could not reach before. All this exploring will take place in an enormous castle and the surrounding grounds, slowly filling out the entire map.
Miriam's hoard of weapons, armors, and Shards, can be upgraded via a simple crafting system. To upgrade you will use drops from monsters, and the same system can be used for an arcane art to transform several ingredients into food, which will heal you when consumed and give you permanent boosts.
Even though the roots of the games are firmly anchored in the past, the experience feels fresh but cosy. A return to a comfortable formula with just enough quality of life changes thrown in to not feel old and stale. Maybe my Nostalgia-goggles are warping this recommendation a bit, but give this one a try!