Developer: ArtPlay / Inti Creates
Publisher: Inti Creates
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop download
Category: Action, Platformer
No. of Players: up to 2 players
Release Date: July 10, 2020 (Worldwide)
It’s the sequel none of us could have possibly predicted. Whereas Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon owes its existence to due to a 2015 Kickstarter stretch goal for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night being reached, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 owes its existence to its fans.
Due to being so well-received and the development team behind it clearly having more plans for Zangetsu, the story is far from over and while it has not yet been divulged just how long the sequel has been in development, we do know that between the game first being revealed on June 23, 2020, it was released less than 3 weeks later with less than 27 months between the releases of both Curse of the Moon games.
We also know Koji Igarashi, former Konami employee who served as the Producer of the Castlevania series is back in the driving seat, working alongside both Inti Creates and ArtPlay.
In terms of the connection between Curse of the Moon and Ritual of the Night, Curse of the Moon did start off as being a prequel to Ritual of the Moon, taking place 10 years prior, but has since gone on to grow into a spin-off, which Igarashi himself has gone on to state as well.
Despite his statement, however, there is still the belief that Curse of the Moon is still a prequel since there is a secret ending in it, which actually does a good job of setting it up as a prequel, but while things are up in the air in that regard, at least things are simpler with Curse of the Moon’s sequel.
Continuing the adventures of the demon slayer that is Zangetsu, once more this powerful warrior must do battle against the demonic forces of darkness and just like before, he won’t have to do it alone as new allies can join his cause, and just as soon as players can see him to victory and complete Episode 1, Zangetsu’s story does not end there.
With multiple endings, multiple episodes and multiple bosses requiring smiting, Zangetsu has certainly got his work cut out for him this time around in Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2.
For those of you who are familiar with the first Curse of the Moon game, there isn’t much difference between them in terms of gameplay, as there are plenty of things that are the same, such as how there are various ways in which players can advance through stages, Weapon Points being required for your characters to use their Sub Weapons and even various power-ups to increase your chances of survival. Both games even support the same Casual and Veteran difficulties.
Where things differ, however, is a new cast of characters as Curse of the Moon 2 introduces 3 new playable characters, each with their own unique abilities, but it also brings back the entire cast of the first game. Although Zangetsu is available form the start, Miriam, Alfred and Gebel are reporting for duty, but you will not get the chance to play with the likes of them until you reach the third episode.
One huge gameplay difference between both Curse of the Moon games, is the fact not only does Curse of the Moon 2 have a 2 in its title, but it also supports local co-op. Yes, that’s right, just like how Zangetsu can recruit new allies in his personal war against darkness, you can team up with a friend and work together to take down all who stand in your way and attempt to cut you down to size.
Personally, this is a great addition to what is proving to be a great series, especially since new characters already help with new ways to explore each stage, but the character combos you can pull of when playing with a friend, it takes Curse of the Moon to new heights and presents new tactics that can be used against bosses.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
With regards to just what exactly players can get out of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2, depending on how you wish to play, how many endings you want to see, and just how invested you become with it, at least 10 hours of solid gameplay awaits.
In the base game that released, there are a total of five campaigns, with only one available when you first start playing, as the others require being unlocked. Each campaign plays a little different to the one before it and I particularly like the contrast between the final boss battles that take place during the end of Episodes 1 and 2.
As for the other three, episodes the consist of an Episode EX, a Final Episode and the option of Single Player, but let us not forget that as of July 16, 2020 there will be a version 1.2.0 update that adds a Bosh Rush mode, which players will need to meet certain conditions if they wish to unlock it.
While for the most part, players can expect to see a lot of the same 8 stages, there is diversity at play, especially if you try going it with the Casual or Veteran difficulty. With the former, players can enjoy an easier experience thanks to infinite lives, enemies that deal less damage, more checkpoints and no knockbacks.
With the latter, however, players will need to kick on their toes, execute some precise platform navigation and score points in a bid to get more lives. The game is also genuinely harder, giving players a true run for their money and test for their skills. So whereas players can avoid collecting the upgrades in Casual, with Veteran, they’re essential to your continued survival.
There’s also the fact that there is a total of 7 playable characters, 8 if you’re doing multiplayer since both players can play as Zengetsu, and yes you can swap between them, but while some you can expect to use a lot, there are others like new characters Robert who can perform a wall jump and Dominique, who can do downward strike on enemies that enables her to bounce, who you will probably use not nearly as much.
Both could have been utilized a lot more by having some of the stages require their prowess all the more, instead of just occasionally asking for their combat skills. Regardless of their lesser roles, however, at least Dominique can be a great healer and players can cycle between them at any time, provided they have the character as part of their party and are currently alive.
I absolutely loved the soundtrack in the first Curse of the Moon game and unfortunately, while the sequel surpasses the prequel in many aspects, there are instances of where the first game did a better job. Having said that, there are also instances where the two are on the same level, but nevertheless, this is still a treat for the ears.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
When it comes to a modernised take on 8-bit 2D graphics, Inti Creates are masters of their trade and always do a commendable job. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is every bit as gorgeous as its prequel, featuring exquisite boss designs, an interesting selection of stages and a playable character in the form of a Welsh Corgi piloting a set of “magicked armour.”
There is always such a high level of detail when it comes to Inti Creates’ 8-bit work, including the fact that Hachi on Stage 4, Hachi has a different set of sprites in which show the magicked armour which replaces the regular feet/wheels, to that of legs more akin to a spider, in a bid to give Hachi a securer footing on slippery services.
What’s more, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 can’t even be faulted on its performance as everything behaves exactly as it is meant to, so the instances where the game seems a little slow, it’s not the framerate slowing down, it’s just the way the game is intended to be in those precise moments.
Bow Wow might be a good boy as far as The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is concerned, but right now my favourite video game poochie has to be Hachi. I absolutely love Hachi as a playable character and the way he celebrates upon completing a boss battle, is just too cute.
There’s a reason why canines are man’s best and when they come with magicked armour, they are the greatest of best friends and just so fun to play. Who cares if Hachi is slower moving when compared to the other characters? Where Hachi lacks a Sub Weapon of his own, he can become invincible for as long as you have Weapon Points, which is very valuable during boss battles on Veteran, but is useful any time you could possibly need it.
As for the rest of the characters, just like Hachi they all have their strengths and weaknesses and although the sharp-shooter Robert is a handy distance fighter, he’s actually my least played character as everyone else seems to be vastly superior in every way, but other than that, Curse of the Moon 2 is seemingly a flawless game with a character for everyone, you just have to play it long enough to experience them all.
The first Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was already the perfect spiritual successor to old-school Castlevania games and now it has been followed up by something that is just as good, if not even better. Everyone involved with its sequel have just gone bigger and better and for lovers of the metroidvania genre, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is simply a must-have title that does not disappoint in the slightest.
THE VERDICT: 9/10
*A download key was provided by the Publisher for the purposes of this review
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