First Impressions: Bloodstained E3 Demo - PreviewEvan Norris , posted on 28 June 2016 / 7,262 Views
Trust is a tricky thing. It takes years to earn and only a few seconds to lose forever. With the advent of Kickstarter, trust has, in a way, been commercialized. Yet those that traffic in trust play with fire. Just ask Keiji Inafune, who has a lot of grumpy backers to answer to after the lackluster launch of Mighty No. 9. Next up for the proving grounds is Koji Igarashi, who's leveraging his substantial resume (and reputation) to fund Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
In order to whet the appetite of backers, the Bloodstained Kickstarter sent out Steam codes for the recent E3 demo to all those who backed at the $60+ tier. The demo takes place on a sinking, crumbling galleon that's besieged by a giant sea monster. The comic-book shading makes the visuals pop, but the level was too empty and sterile to feel truly alive and organic.
Playing the demo, you can spot the parallels to Igarashi's earlier work with Castlevania immediately. Our heroine Miriam moves, attacks, and back dashes with the same grace and speed as series stalwart Alucard. She explores a labyrinthine map populated with grotesque enemies, hidden rooms, and lots of treasure chests. As she beats up on baddies, her experience level also climbs.
Speaking of grotesque enemies, Igarashi and company have delivered the goods. There are only a few monster types on display in the demo, but almost all are horrible and repulsive - in a good way. Death animations are similarly impressive. Oily, gooey monsters pop out of the floorboards and then literally lose their heads as Miriam slashes at them. Squid-like sea creatures dissolve in a flash of flame and bubbles under the intense heat of a fireball attack.
The big exception is the demo's final boss, a confused mixture of tired, clumsy, and oversexualized designs. The boss is part kraken, part porn star, and part orthodontist's nightmare. Her lower part is a purple face with six orange eyes and a mouthful of crooked teeth. Her top part is a woman with gigantic, floppy breasts and a seaweed weave.
That's not the worst part about the boss, however. The fight is simply not fun, and surprisingly basic for a designer as ingenious as Igarashi-sama. This woeful fight diminishes the entire demo, unfortunately. Combat has no weight, no impact. Enemies don't flinch under assault, and Miriam's strikes don't leave an impression.
With its lifeless, mostly-empty level and unsatisfying combat, Bloodstained fails to impress. The good news is that this is an early alpha build, and Igarashi and company have until 2017 to figure out what works and what doesn't. Meanwhile, Kickstarter backers will be watching intently as another industry giant lays his reputation on the line.