Do you ever just play a game over and over and over again? You could have beaten it five or six times over, but you still keep coming back. It becomes comfortable, like a warm coffee on a cold day. For me that game is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. That game, coupled with Ocarina of Time, got me through so many rough patches over the years. I don’t know what it was that kept me coming back. Maybe it was the beautiful sprite work, the fun grindy gameplay, or the ridiculous voice acting and hilariously fun and terrible dialogue. Whatever it was, it still has a hold on me. Symphony is still one of my favourite games after all these years.
So when I say Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a huge improvement in every conceivable way, you better believe that sentence holds some weight. It’s made by Koji Igarashi, the same guy behind Symphony, and most of the Castlevania games if we’re being honest, and it shows. The entire game feels like a greatest hits album: a little of Aria, a little of Portrait, a little Order, and a dash of Dawn. But Igarashi has also taken the time to modernise and improve the formula. Overall the game is a nice big warm cup of nostalgia, and definitely one of my favourites from this year. – Hailey