Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is progressing nicely. It’s not playing hide and seek like its Japanese cousin, Shenmue 3, and it’s no MIA like Echoes of Eternea. At last year’s E3, lead developer Koji Igarashi revealed not only gameplay, but also a backer exclusive demo of the first level. Reactions, at least here at Cliqist, were mixed to say the least.
Igarashi confirmed to IGN that Bloodstained will return to E3 this year. He said it was important the game made a big splash as “North America is the biggest fan-base for the Kickstarter, so it’s very important for us to have a good presentation at E3.” What does this mean for Bloodstained fans at E3 this year?
It’s been about a year since we last saw any major gameplay for Castlevania’s spiritual successor. After that long, and a release date of about another year, chances are we’re going to be in for a treat this year. There are three things that I think Igarashi should (and will) showcase at his E3 event this year.
1. A Story/Cinematic Trailer
We know next to nothing about the story of Bloodstained. You play as a woman named Miriam who has crystals embedded inside her thanks to a curse. There’s also David Hayter, who’s summed a castle out of nowhere, as you do, and some dude Johannes who is friends with David. The game starts with Miriam on a boat, heading to the castle when some demons show up, and that’s all we know. We haven’t seen any cutscenes, any dialog, or have heard David Hayter or any of the other voice acting yet.
A story trailer featuring dialog, voice acting, and maybe some cutscenes is a given. There are just too many unknowns concerning the plot and cast. Plot might not be a big reason why anyone is going to play Bloodstained, in fact some might be hoping for levels of writing and acting we got in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. That’s probably not going to happen this time around, unless over-the-top camp, so bad its good is what they’re specifically going for. But for gamers who can’t help but wish for a comprehensive War & Peace-esque narrative in every game we play, it’d be nice knowing what we’re getting ourselves into with the plot.
The latest update in March shared concept art for three new characters, but they’re going to need a lot more than that at E3.
2. More Info about the Randomly Generated Environments
In December 2016, Igarashi announced that some background elements of the game’s environments would be randomly generated. It wouldn’t be anything huge, at least from what we’ve been told. Maybe a column here, a bit of the ceiling there, a painting over there – small, barely noticeable things like that. More importantly, this will add a level of destruction to the environments. These same background items will decay and get damaged over time.
Anything involving “random generation” is a bit of a hot topic in the indie scene these days. Once thought of as a killer feature, even the suggestion of randomly generated grains of sand is enough to kick off a debate. The argument for this feature is that it saves the team time, which is exactly how Igarashi introduced it. On the other hand, randomly generated levels, environments, and enemies all take away a degree of control from the developers, and despite the reason for their existence, make things more homogenized.
But there’s another reason for the change, as my colleague and can of air that’s been flavored with the blood of a nasty stain stated of the backer demo:
“Players often had trouble differentiating platforms and walls from background content. To improve the gameplay experience the “front” of platforms will be brighter. Parts of the environment that are further away from the character are darker now to increase the appearance of depth.”
These changes are necessary. Maybe not in the form of random generation, but something had to be done to improve gameplay. Igarashi and company went with what they thought was best. They are going to have to show this change in action before anyone else will be convinced of the same.
3. More Gameplay Options
Another obvious one, but it goes without saying we need to see more gameplay. The last real glimpse we got of Ritual of the Night in action was last E3. Surely the game has progressed substantially in the last 12 months, and not just the randomly generate environments.
If there was one complaint about the backer demo, it’s that it was a bit on the bland side. There was clearly something there, but it was incredibly sparse. The demo was little more than walking left or right and either hitting enemies with a sword or kicking them. Igarashi didn’t have room to breathe and show off the magic system, the Metroidvania elements, or much of anything really.
So while we can expect more gameplay, you should also expect to see more diverse gameplay. We’ll see new weapons, new magic abilities, and new RPG mechanics. Hopefully we’ll also see new enemies that require more thought to defeat other than jamming the attack button. The 2016 demo gave us a glimpse into the game’s first boss. Much like the rest of the demo, it was on the bland side. Hopefully boss battles, at least the one we saw in the demo, will get a much needed layer of pizazz.
You Were Almost a Miserable Little Pile of Sandwiches!
That is what we can expect from Bloodstained at E3 this year: story stuff, info on the randomly generated elements, and more gameplay footage. I’m taking a real risk with these, I know, but really, what more is there to say? Igarashi and his team have done a great job of providing updates, and their E3 event last year was pretty good. This year, they’ll come to E3, show off something, we’ll all eat it up, the game will come out and we’ll either love it or hate it, and then eventually we’ll die and it won’t matter. Unless we die before it comes out, and it still won’t matter.
Have a great E3 this year!
For more coverage on this game, and complete coverage of all things indie gaming at E3 2017, keep your eyes on Cliqist.