Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a spin-off title from the Kickstarter for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. This game has been developed by Inti Creates in an 8-bit style and showcases gameplay from the same era of the NES. Curse of the Moon is a love letter to those that enjoy classic Castlevania games and never ceases to impress.
It is obvious to see which game Curse of the Moon takes its inspiration from, and there are indeed many similarities to Castlevania III Dracula’s Curse in this Kickstarter side project. Thankfully, these similarities are either kept true to form or improved upon as the player makes their way through various environments to seal away demons. Branching paths are in every level, with access to these areas being dependent on who is in the player’s party.
Taking control of Zangetsu, the player will embark on a journey through eight levels of adrenalin pumping nostalgia capped with fast-paced boss battles, while running into three other characters along the way. Miriam, the protagonist of the parent title Ritual of the Night, Alfred the wizard, and Gebel the Alucard type character. Each member of the roster has unique abilities and different mechanics to make them all feel and play fresh when compared to each other character. Zangetsu brandishes a sword and can attack the fastest of the crew. Miriam is the Belmont style character with a whip and higher jump than each of the others and is also the only one that can slide. Alfred has the lowest health but can wield powerful magic spells. Gebel can transform into a bat and attacks by throwing three clusters of darkness from behind his cape in a wave.
Fun & Charming
As this is a side project, it is no surprise that the game is short. It will take the player one and a half to two hours to complete the game the first time around. This doesn’t take away from its charm and incredibly fun gameplay, harkening back to the classic NES games that inspire it. In order to keep the game interesting, there are two difficulty modes available that affect the gameplay, as well as three scenarios to play through. Once the game has been beaten the first time, the second scenario unlocks, and fulfilling certain requirements will unlock the last mode.
The games of old that have left their imprint on Curse of the Moon were very difficult games that took some time to memorize enemy layouts and strategies to get through each stage. This current iteration is much less difficult than the original Castlevania franchise, but the later levels are pretty challenging. There is still a lot of fun to be had with the game for any skill level though, as Casual mode gives the player unlimited lives and removes the knockback received from getting hit by an enemy. Veteran mode is the classic style gameplay that gives the player three lives at the beginning of the game, and additional lives can be found in the stages, or acquired through an accumulation of points. Boss attacks and patterns are also slightly different between difficulty modes.
At the end of the first few stages, a new character will be rescued from the clutches of a demon. Once the character has been freed, there are three choices to make. Recruit the character to your party, ignore them and continue on the way, or sacrifice them to acquire a new ability for Zangetsu. Player choice during these instances affect the ending of the game, and it is a mechanic that I didn’t even realize until I had played through the game three times already. This adds immense replay value to Curse of the Moon.
This deeply engrossing nostalgia trip is everything classic Castlevania fans have been waiting for. Fair but challenging gameplay, branching paths in the stages, cast of characters that can be switched on the fly, and replay value to last much longer than the initial two-hour commitment. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a must play for classic game fans. Only costing $9.99 US and available for play on the PS4, PS Vita, PC via Steam, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, and Nintendo Switch, there is no excuse to not pick this game up and Cleave the Moon!