On June 23, the New Game+ Expo showcases a myriad of new Japanese game announcements. One of the reveals from Azure Striker Gunvolt developer Inti Creates was for Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2.
Any fans of the retro Castlevania games on NES or those who already love Koji Igarashi's Metroidvania revival series, Bloodstained, will find an exciting action-platformer that's a must-play.
What is it? Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is a follow-up to what was initially supposed to be a spin-off for the Kickstarted game Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. "We were so happy to see how much fans enjoyed the game, and from that, a decision to make a sequel quickly followed suit," Castlevania and Bloodstained creator Kogi Igarashi said in the announcement video.
The game is "coming soon" to PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Why Castlevania fans should keep an eye on this game — While Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night mainly took cues from the open-ended Metroidvania style of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, this new title much closer to the earliest Castlevania games, with mostly linear horror-themed stages capped off at the end with a boss fight.
That said, Curse of the Moon 2 brings some modern improvements thanks to its inclusion of four playable characters: the swordfighter Zangetsu, the spear-wielding exorcist Dominique, the gun-toating soldier Robert, and Hachi, a Welsh corgi in a mech suit (yes, you read that right).
Players can switch to each of these characters at any time after recruiting them, and each has unique moves and subweapons. For example, Zangetsu mainly attacks with his sword but can power it up with a Demon Essense ability or get some range with his ball-and-chain and magic charm abilities. Meanwhile, Dominique has a variety of attacks with her spear, but can also use magic to heal the party with sub-weapons Healing Plant and Ressurection Anthem.
As a result, the game is structured so each character is the best to use in certain situations, and can sometimes even access shortcuts in a level that others can't. It's a clever spin on a classic formula that the first Curse of the Moon game did very well, and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 only seems to be expanding it with new playable characters.
A retro challenge — The classic Castlevania games are challenging, and Curse of the Moon 2 is trying to emulate that feeling while still being accessible. By choosing the Veteran difficulty, lives are limited, enemies will be more difficult to kill, and they will knock back the character when they hit them, an infamous feature that should be recognizable to fans of Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden.
If that seems like too much of a struggle for you or you want to introduce this retro-style game to a younger generation, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 also features a Casual difficulty with unlimited lives and no character knockback.
The Inverse Analysis — While I was disappointed by Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night when it finally released in 2019, the original Curse of the Moon managed to impress me when I first played it in 2018. It captured the retro feel of the classic Castlevania games without feeling like it was pandering and its strong level design and multiple characters made it immensely entertaining. As such, I am really excited to see where this game goes with the formula as it looks just as enjoyable from the reveal trailer.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 will be released for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.