Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been out for a few years, but it is a game I have yet to play. However, in its recent content update, they gave the option to play as Aurora from Child of Light. One of my favorite games of all time. With Bloodstained being a side-scrolling Metroidvania game, it felt like a good fit for a character from a similar setting. This won’t be a review of Bloodstained, instead, it will be a review of how this crossover feels to play, and it is quite an enjoyable adventure.
The Child of Light Awoken
When you start up the game you will be met with a written introduction for Aurora waking up on a strange ship. This introduction is written poetically, similar to all of the writing in Child of Light.
However, there are no cutscenes following this introduction. You simply progress through the game like normal. Going from a cursed ship across the open sea. To the haunted halls of Hellhold. Along the way, Aurora will be accompanied by her companion from Child of Light, Igniculus. Igniculus cannot speak, same as her other companions that she unlocks from defeating enemies. But when Aurora is speaking to them, as well as a few other characters in the game, she will always rhyme, similar to the game she’s from.
The writing perfectly imitates what you would find in Child of Light. However, this seems to be the only replicated element from that game. There are no crossover bosses, or enemies, as well as an eerie lack of music from that game. Cœur de pirate’s soundtrack for the game was truly excellent and it is a shame that pieces like Hymn of Light or Metal Gleamed in the Twilight weren’t included in any boss fights to at least mimic how those pieces fit in that game.
But even if this game didn’t perfectly adapt the narrative tone from Child of Light, it did a great job adapting Aurora into a do-or-die Metroidvania.
From Turn-Based to Action-Based
Child of Light is a game that has an active time battle system. Aurora and her companions will be on the same track as the enemies and you have to time strikes between enemy strikes to stagger them. You can also use Igniculus to blind enemies to slow them down by hovering over them for perfect opportune strikes. While also being to restore health to Aurora if you hover over her.
It’s a great combat system. But in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night you will be using a hack-and-slash combat system. It’s basic, regular strikes and parries galore. But you can also use her Light Ray spell to deal damage from a distance. As well as Igniculus’s ability to slow enemies down and restore health to Aurora over time. Nice attention to detail. Where it gets interesting is when you unlock her companions.
As you defeat enemies you will unlock her companions at random. This will allow you to customize your playstyle as Aurora. If you swap out Igniculus for Finn, Finn will gradually boost your magic damage output. But characters like Gen, for instance, grant an additional spell cast.
Where Gen, taking the form of a banshee, will scream at an enemy for high damage and grant you higher MP recovery. But if you choose Oengus over Gen, you will get a massive attack and defense boost and a sweeping punch spell. There are a lot of ways to customize how you progress through the game.
Flying Through the Bloodstained Halls
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and its world layout is labyrinthine in nature. There are long stretches of hallways and explorable spaces. Hidden walls, and unlockable doors for shortcuts. Varied gorgeous environments and spacious vertical areas. It can be a breeze to navigate if you’re staring at your mini-map. But can be overwhelming if you’ve never played a Metroidvania game before. That being said, Aurora can fly through these environments after defeating a certain boss.
Similar to Child of Light the power is given in a cathedral area, which is nice attention to detail. This ability in Bloodstained, as well as Child of Light, makes the platforming and Metroidvania elements trivial. The entire world layout is intricate, but being able to fly through and ignore all of it as early in the game as you do, seems like a waste. It did make the experience more enjoyable. But in the very early game, the emphasis on learning how the levels worked kept me engaged. Just like the myriad of bosses spread throughout the levels.
A Bounty of Bosses in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
There are a ton of bosses in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night for Aurora to triumph over. Some are built to match spectacle, and some are simply normal-sized enemies. From dual-sided dragons, a giant gaping head with a human fused within it. To samurai and vampires and many hidden surprise bosses in between. There are so many bosses placed throughout the game that kept me on my toes.
The balancing between these bosses is inconsistent, however. The giant gaping head can be very easy to overcome, while a vampire that does not look menacing can take multiple tries to defeat. Due to the multiple phases and evolution in their attack patterns. I had to stop relying on Igniculus and Gen early on in favor of Finn and Oengus. The gradual healing and small spell cast meant nothing if they dealt way too much to me in one attack. Forcing me to focus on higher damage outputs overall instead of failed attempts at dragging out boss battles.
While the staggering enemy variety never forced me to change how I played. I loved having to do so for the bosses to get the sweet satisfaction of defeating them.
The Gorgeous Sights of Hellhold
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’s different biomes are a genuine joy to look at. The 2.5D style really shines through with the amount of detail stretching across the playable space. Railings, stained glass design, a frosty landscape with demons frozen in the back. It was all wondrous to take in, just like the enemies. You start by fighting gray blobs, to falcons, bats, frogs, archers, and even knights.
The enemies and their designs felt like they belonged in the areas they were in. There is a section of the map that mimics a far eastern style. So you’ll see Japanese sliding doors close as you fight shinobi’s along the way. As well as giant cats sticking out of a portal in a certain area. Even Aurora looks just as she does in her own game. While her companions, like Igniculus, stayed faithful to their design. But others, like Finn, were simply modeled from enemies from Bloodstained. It is a departure from the original Child of Light, but it fits the narrative since they are supposed to be under a curse.
The game also boasts very creative designs for its monsters, especially for the bosses. As the aforementioned dragons have a grotesque look to them creating a feeling of fear as you fight both of them. Where certain areas really suck you in, like seeing a red moon outside a balcony with the clouds racing towards you in the distance.
Technical Performance and Closing Remarks
The experience is extremely flawless on the technical side. I played on the Xbox Series X for this crossover and found no bugs, no glitches, and no freezes or crashes. The environments were absolutely stunning to look at and had a varied color palette. However, the music in the game is pretty generic. I cannot recall a single soundtrack from my playthrough, and this isn’t because I was disappointed by them, not including Cœur de pirate’s music. I just found the music to be very off-putting.
Overall, the crossover for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and Child of Light is excellent and highly recommendable. Due to Bloodstained’s content offering being varied from the enemies, bosses, and locales. While incorporating similar writing from Child of Light to match that game. The combat system is basic but has a deep customization system to it. I loved playing through this crossover, even if it didn’t meet all of my expectations. But I am very eager to head back into Hellhold as Miriam, or Aurora again, as a single playthrough can range around six hours, and I would love to see how long it could take with Miriam as opposed to Aurora.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia, and Steam for $39.99. Additionally, I recommend trying Child of Light as well. Which is available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and 4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, and Uplay for $14.99.