Out of all videogame Kickstarter projects I have ever backed, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was by far the best one. Headed by Castlevania series veteran Koji Igarashi and developed by ArtPlay, it proved to be a worthy follow-up to Igarashi’s PlayStation and Sega Saturn magnum opus Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
As with the usual Kickstarter project, Bloodstained’s was chock full of stretch goals, so many added in as the project went on thanks to its popularity. One that was easily met was the side project that was to be given to all backers before the actual game came out, called Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, designed in the style of an old NES Castlevania game. The star of that was Zangetsu, a mysterious warrior that hailed from the far East and was after a cure to the curse that afflicted him.
To all accounts, that game turned out extremely well and helped satiate some of the thirst that backers had been trying to quench due to all of the delays that hit the main project throughout its campaign. It was one hell of a wait for sure, but it was worth it, as Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night turned out to be one of last year’s highest rated games. Curse of the Moon’s Zangetsu even popped up and was part of the story of that game, and was also one of the later stretch goals to the Kickstarter project, to be added in at a later date as a playable character.
It took them a little while, but he finally stepped into the game as a free piece of DLC earlier this month, letting Miriam take a breather to her adventures for a little while at least. To anyone that’s beaten the main game, Zangetsu will feel like a victory lap thanks to his overpowered attacks, a lot like playing as Richter in Symphony of the Night, without of course the added benefit of basically being able to fly around the map. You can’t have everything, you know!
Movement-wise, he plays a lot like Miriam, but his Zagetsuto katana moves are absolutely out of whack when it comes to damage, as he’s able to take out most normal enemies with a single blow. The normal attack is a horizontal slash, while the secondary one is a slower vertical one. As for ranged offense, you can count on his kunai to keep foes at bay. His special skill allows him to imbue his sword with one of three elements at a time, and it comes in handy when facing foes particularly weak to any one of them.
There’s no story whatsoever when playing as Zangetsu, so he’s perfectly suited for speedruns of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. His progression to the game is pretty much the same as Miriam’s, starting off at the cursed ship, moving on to the overrun village and so forth, so you won’t find much new to do outside of the novelty of fighting as a different character, and his obvious advantage over any other enemy thanks to his sheer offensive output. I’ll wager that he’s more suited for higher difficulties in order to make things a little more challenging, but all things considered, it’s always fun to get to blow through an otherwise hard side-scroller action game like this with such ease.
Zangetsu is only one of a number of stretch goals for their Kickstarter project, and along with him came a randomizer mode which speaks for itself, allowing you to change up to eight different in-game parameters — like the endgame goal, save room locations, item placement, the works — in order to shake things up for anyone who might be tired of running through the same ol’ game. I still have yet to give much of a go at this due to having not finished the main adventure yet (shame on me!), but I’m excited to try it out down the line.
If these free additions are any indication, there’s still a lot of life yet to be found in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. He’s only the first of two playable characters that were announced to be released after the game came out last year, and the second’s identity has yet to be revealed. I’ll be sure to keep you updated once they’re finally out, so be on the lookout for news as soon as it’s available!