The very first thing you must find out about Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is that it includes a playable corgi named Hachi who pilots an enchanted mecha-tank. The second factor you must know is that the basic Castlevania homage is in each means a marked enchancment over the primary Curse of the Moon. In reality, foolish and meme-able as it’s, the corgi represents a extra playful spirit on this sequel that makes the entire expertise richer.
The first Curse of the Moon was a brief and candy diversion, a bit deal with for Bloodstained backers and a neat concept to contextualize the brand new franchise enterprise from Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi. It primarily offered another historical past, the place Bloodstained was a recognized retro franchise and the then-upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was a daring reinvention a la Symphony of the Night.
For all its charms, although, Curse of the Moon performed it fairly straight with its influences. The tone was moody and gothic and the heroes have been stoic slabs of granite. Then Ritual of the Night got here out and combined its macabre and demonic imagery with components that have been self-consciously goofy, like large kitten heads peeking by the citadel home windows. In that context, Hachi the corgi seems like developer Inti Creates embracing the cheeky oddball high quality of the Bloodstained universe, now that it has been extra well-defined. If you occur to die as Hachi–and how dare you, you monster–the recreation is bound to point out a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it animation of the little canine bailing out simply earlier than his mech explodes.
Hachi could also be the perfect new addition to Curse of the Moon 2, however he is removed from the one one. With the exception of the grim samurai-like protagonist Zangetsu, every of the playable characters in the primary marketing campaign is new. There’s Dominique, an exorcist from Ritual of the Night who wields spears and therapeutic magic; Robert, an agile sniper; and the tank-like Hachi.
Like within the first recreation, every character has their very own lifebar and specialised talents, however these are extra differentiated and specialised than earlier than. For instance, Robert is the one character who can wall-jump and his rifle can strike threats from all the best way throughout the display, but it surely takes a second to reload and so he is not splendid for threats which can be closing in. Inversely, Hachi is a short-range bruiser who can stroll throughout spikes, and whereas he lacks the flexibility of swappable particular assaults, that button as an alternative maps to momentary invulnerability that drains the magic meter. The number of monsters and demons means there’s often a personality ideally fitted to taking them out, whether or not it is Robert safely taking down an armored enemy or Hachi power-stomping a gaggle of tiny swarming demons. Though it is an action-platformer at its core, because of a faithfully created (and fairly brutal) knockback impact it is often worthwhile to keep away from direct harm and meet the second with the perfect instrument for the job.
Then there’s Dominique, who provides a deceptively complicated layer of technique. She has greater jumps and longer-range assaults than Zangetsu, which at first makes her appear merely like an upgraded model of the balanced primary hero. But her therapeutic magic makes for an attention-grabbing risk-reward evaluation. You can swap between the 4 characters at any time, and the levels are designed with each enemies and optimum paths which can be greatest for one character’s specialty, however as soon as a personality dies the others preserve going with out them. That makes the power to maintain everybody alive and wholesome a serious benefit. Choosing to rely an excessive amount of on Dominique’s superior fight talents runs the danger of taking her out of fee, which then impacts the entire crew who’re disadvantaged of her therapeutic skill. (Zangetsu ultimately will get an improve that makes him extra distinctive, and fewer of a strictly worse Dominique.)
Thanks to that higher degree of differentiation, the levels are rife with hidden nooks and secrets and techniques to discover. At first look it nonetheless borrows the aesthetic from Castlevania 3, however the stage design is far more complicated and rewarding to discover. This is not a “metroidvania” within the sense that there isn’t any massive open atmosphere to discover, however the skill to reenter accomplished levels with new characters who’ve distinctive traversal talents provides it a sense akin to that.
Each stage ends with a large boss, and whereas undeniably unusual, these virtually universally lean extra towards the macabre. From a large dragon with an Alien-like second maw and a lightning cannon in its chest to a lava wyrm, these are a few of the most standard elements of the sport. Still, it’s spectacular how their assault patterns are so fine-tuned to permit any of the 4 characters to not less than conceivably take them down. Almost all of them have some type of a last-gasp assault, when their life bar is drained they usually resolve to attempt to take you with them. These could be tense and irritating since they’re so arduous to foretell after you have already defeated the boss, however they add a layer of grotesque monstrosity to the victory.
The first story marketing campaign is on the brief facet, but it surely ends in a cliffhanger which prompts a second quest. To see the story by to its full conclusion, you will must play by not less than thrice, and these are marked as particular person episodes. The story hand-waves its means by any rationalization for why these episodes–which ostensibly happen in chronological order–would contain dealing with the very same bosses in the identical environments.
Your reward for seeing the story by to the top is a singular closing stage and boss, together with one significantly wacky, game-changing Easter egg that makes the entire effort worthwhile.
This has the impact of feeling like padding with repeated content material, however that feeling is considerably mitigated by the wealth of shortcuts and alternate paths obtainable as your subsequent playthroughs contain totally different combos of characters. The bosses are additionally subtly ramped up with not less than one new assault sample in every episode, and this mixed with the totally different crew compositions makes for challenges that really feel recent. Your reward for seeing the story by to the top is a singular closing stage and boss, together with one significantly wacky, game-changing Easter egg that makes the entire effort worthwhile.
That Easter egg owes each its story justification and its degree of meta weirdness to Hachi, which is actually what units Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 aside. It’s nonetheless a basic Castlevania homage at coronary heart, but it surely has an eccentricity that feels proper at dwelling alongside the enormous kitty-cats of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. When a recreation appears to be having this a lot enjoyable at its personal expense, it is arduous to not take part.