The Bloodstained games have not been shy about copying the style and aesthetic of Castlevania. If anything, they go out of their way to note and reference similar things between the two series, not just in the big moments -- like how Curse of the Moon is a lovely retro-allusion to Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse -- but in small nods, plot points, and character references. Everyone knows IGA was making his own version of Castlevania, but instead of playing coy the creator owned it, fully and completely.
It's obvious, in that regard, when it comes to Dominique Baldwin. Although the villains of the series may be different -- demons here, Dracula in Castlevania -- the construction of their stories is pretty much the same. A hero comes to a dark castle to fight evil and, while exploring the ruins, finds people to lend aid and assistance. Dominique fits that model, a member of the church that acts as a friend and gives aid and succor. But like, some characters past Castlevania heroes would meet along the way, Dominique also had her own agenda, hiding a secret that could very well change the story of the game.
Dominique, then carries on a tradition and helps this game slot in, stylistically at least, among the games that influenced and directed it. She serves a purpose, directs the story, and adds to its conclusion in a way you'd expect if you played many of these games before. She might be a bit of a trope, but she certainly does tuck in nicely even still.
Editor's Note: For the bios in the Bloodstained series, we're having to take some liberties. It's our goal to document the single, unified storyline for the series, the same has been done for the Castlevania series but, in the case of Bloodstained, it seems as though the developers have (gleefully) decided to not have a single timeline. Events from one game can contradict another, and no two games seem to reside within the same continuity (even as they share the same characters). While we've done our best, we will point out continuity issues as we see them. Essentially, take everything here with a grain of salt because it's all subject to change the second the developers elect to alter things.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2
From a young age, Dominique devoted herself to God. Like her parents, both of whom were exorcists with the Church, Dominique wanted to serve the Church, and God, and help battle the demons that sometimes imperiled man. She was devout, and throughout her early life, she steadily worked her way through her studied as she climbed the order of the Church.
During her studies, aiding the Church in its quest to fight the demons, Dominique learned of a great demon hunter, Zangetsu, who had fought the demons, bravely, for years before recently dying in his quest to rid the land of evil once and for all. Hoping that she could use this man in her own quest against the demons, Dominique found a way to resurrect Zangetsu, pulling him out of the afterlife and giving him purpose once more. The demon castle of Gremory had returned and Dominique would need all the help she could get.
Sending Zangetsu ahead to scout the area, Dominique eventually joined up with him on the outskirts of the castle. As they ventured deeper into the lands they met, and gained, two additional allies to aid them on their quest: Robert, a gun-toting sniper Zangetsu knew from previous wars, and Hachi, a very intelligent dog in an alchemical suit of armor. Together to fought their way past demons and devils alike, all to take on the final foul evil at the top of the castle, Gremory himself.
However, while the heroes fought valiantly, victory would not be in their grasp for Gremory had other plans. At what should have been the moment of defeat for the demon, the evil creature captured Dominique and stole her away, sealing her within its own foul body. She accepted the magic as a way to keep the demon from capturing her friends, a noble sacrifice for the good of her team. Gremory then ejected the heroes from the castle, gleeful in its newfound power it could derive from Dominique.
All was not lost for our devout demon hunter, though, as her allies dedicated themselves to saving her. They fought across the demon-infested grounds a second time, this time collecting three shards of a powerful sword, the Zanmato, the demon-slaying blade. With this sword in hand, the heroes confronted Gremory a second time in a new and more powerful form. The heroes once again fought bravely, and at the moment of defeat Zangetsu sliced the beast in twain, freeing Dominique and saving her from the demons.
Their quest was not over, though. As our heroes celebrated, the party was interrupted by the arrival of three allies from Zangetsu's past: Alfred, Gebel, Miriam. These three heroes, who had helped Zangetsu defeat Gremory previously, were gladdened to see their ally alive once more, but they had dire news to report: the demons that had been infesting Earth were coming from the Moon, so everyone would have to work together to find a way to get to this demonic land and rid it of evil as well.
The heroes banded together and ventured, once more, across the land, collecting the pieces of alchemical equipment Alfred would need to build a space machine. Then, when ready, the heroes launched the ship, flying it to the moon to take on the evils there. Once on the surface of this world, the heroes had one more demon infested dungeon to explore, all to take on the source of the demonic evil. And, again, when the demon was beaten to the brink of death, Zangetsu unleashed the power of Zanmato and sliced the evil in twain, destroying it and saving the Moon, and Earth, from the demonic powers. The heroes celebrated for, finally, they had saved the day once and for all.
Like its predecessor, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 has multiple episodes to unlock and play through. In the case of Curse of the Moon 2, the game takes it one step further but having to alternate stories to unlock based on whether you collect the three parts of the Zanmato or not. Get the sword and you save Dominique outright, skipping over an extra episode, "Episode EX", where Zangetsu has to team up with his allies from the first game to try, again, to save Dominique. Both storylines meet up, though, in the last section, "Final Episode", where the heroes fly off into space.
Traditionally, games use the best endings for their continuity. For Curse of the Moon 2, the best ending is the one where the heroes skip over Episode EX, so for our timeline we're using that as the guidepost.
It's worth noting that we assume Dominique revived Zangetsu before this game started since she's teamed up with him once the game begins, and he was dead at the end of the previous title. Someone had to bring him back, so Dominique is our best stand in until the developers say otherwise.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Although she had aided her friends and helped stop the demons that infested the land, Dominique would soon be tested once more. Her resolve was shaken when demons attacked the town her family was staying in, killing both her parents. She begged God for a reason why her family had been taken from her, especially after she had helped stop so many other demons with her adventure to the moon, but her prayers received no response. Perhaps it was just the tragedy, or maybe the taint of the Demon Gremory still clinging to her heart, but whatever the case eventually her soul hardened and she turned her back on God. She secretly no longer served the Church but, instead, threw her lot in with the demons.
Eventually she came up with a plan, a way to bring down the Church, and God, once she gained the power she needed. When an old friend, Johannes, contacted her, telling her about the Shardbinder, Miriam, and the coma that heroine had fallen into (and the recently awoken from), Dominique saw just what she needed. Johannes was taking Miriam to a new nest of demons, a castle that had just appeared on the outskirts of the town of Arvantville. Dominique arrived there as well, serving as an aid to the heroine as she traveled the castle. Dominique set up a shop, selling items of aid to Miriam, and she would also buy Shards off of the heroine under the guise that she was worried that too many shards bound to Miriam's body would eventually turn the heroine's heart.
Dominique also brought her own agent, Zangetsu, who she had magically enchanted so he had no memory of his previous adventures with Miriam or their allies. Supposedly Zangetsu was there to find the one responsible to raising the castle of demons, their old ally Gebel, and stop him at all costs. Of course, Dominique had a much more insidious plan, one she never mentioned to anyone else (not even Zangetsu because, of course, he would have killed her on the spot). The alchemist Alfred, another of their one-time allies, had also come to the castle in search of a magical tome, the Libre Logaeth, which could be used to stop the demons... or empower them further. Dominique sent everyone after the book, hoping that Alfred would be killed and the book would fall into her unholy hands.
Time and again her agents came close, almost capturing the item she needed, but Alfred was always one step ahead, keeping the power just out of reach of evil. Finally, after Miriam confronted Gebel and turned him back to the side of good, freeing his soul from the claws of the demons, Dominique made her move, attacking Alfred, killing him, and stealing the magical tome for herself. Her true colors revealed, Dominique fled deeper into the castle to use the tome for her own nefarious ends.
Miriam, heroine that she was, tracked Dominique into the castle's core, confronting her for a final showdown. The battle raged hard, with Dominique unleashing powerful magics and attacking Miriam with all she had. Eventually, though, Miriam gained the upper hand and bested the evil sorceress. But Dominique wasn't done -- sensing that Miriam could defeat her, Dominique gave herself to the demons, summoning Bael and binding herself to the beast. Forced to fight in the demon's own realm, Miriam took on this combined force, demon and sorceress, eventually besting them both and condemning the lot back to Hell.
Dominique shares many characteristics with a character from the main Castlevania series, Yoko Belnades, another woman working for the Church, helping to fight the good fight against demons. Both aid the main heroes of their games (Yoko and Soma in Dawn of Sorrow / Dominique and Miriam in Ritual of the Night) by acting as shopkeepers while also doling out advice and assistance. But whereas Yoko remains a good guy, Dominique in Ritual of the Night had evil in her heart the whole time.
This is where her name may have actually been a hint. While Dominique means "belonging to a lord", the "Baldwin" in her name might have been a subtle reference to Hugh Baldwin, a character in Castlevania: Circle of the Moon who found his heart tempted and corrupted by evil. In his game Hugh was eventually redeemed but, unfortunately for Dominique, her fate was sealed the second she joined with the demons.
It's not clear why Alfred, Gebel, or Miriam don't recognize Dominique when they see her. In the case of Miriam we could probably chalk it up to the coma she's in for ten years maybe wiping some of her memories. Alfred and Gebel forgetting her (let alone forgetting Zangetsu, which they also do) doesn't make as much sense. Of course, the real reason is that Ritual of the Night came out before Curse of the Moon 2 and the developers decided to throw Dominique into the later game after the fact despite it being a prequel. This is part of the reason why its easier to consider each of these games as their own little instances instead of a tight, single-story continuity.
Playing as Dominique:
In Curse of the Moon 2, Dominique plays as a bit of a hybrid between the classic Belnades characters from Castlevania, using magic for her special attacks, and the spear wielding Eric Lecarde from Castlevania Bloodlines. Her primary attack is her spear, a long weapon with better reach than Zangetsu's shorter blade. She can attack no only in front of her but also above with her spear (giving her a little more maneuverability than Zangetsu) and perform a down-stab attack that allows her to pogo off candles and enemies.
Dominique's real utility, though, comes from her special attacks. She can gain a powerful spear attack as a sub-weapon, creating a much beefier spear thrust. She can also gain an air attack (tornadoes that travel along the ground before flying upwards), lightning spell (ball lightning to travels upwards), and a healing plant (she starts with this and can get it back from candles) that drops health orbs (hearts) to heal her allies. Her most important ability, which is hard to find and but so useful, is a resurrection spell she can gain that will revive all her fallen allies and fully heal all the allies that are still standing. This makes Dominique into one of the most essential heroes, and the one you least want to lose, since she can revive her team over and over again.
Like many bosses in the game, Dominique has a tendency to try and get in close, leaping at the player and then attacking with her whip. She can also summon a variety of elemental attacks that the player will have to dodge, from fire pillars that rise from the ground, to ice shards that will hover and then crash into the ground, homing dark spirits that will travel around trying to catch Miriam, fire orbs that will spray out in multiple direction and burn when they hit walls, fiery lasers that will spread and fill the screen, and even summoning great dragons to attack with fiery smash. Essentially Dominique can use a number of shards you, too, can use, but she might just use them better. This, obviously, is a nod to the fact that the player could, in fact, have sold these shards to Dominique (but note she'll have these abilities even if you never sell shards to her at all).
This portion of the fight with Dominique is tough on its own. You need to come in with a lot of health items and be ready to spend them as the battle rages on -- don't think you can get through without taking damage (as most of us are not gods). And you'll want to learn Dominique's tells -- many of her spells can be dodged if you learn what they look like leading up to them. Even still, not everything can be so easily dodged, and often times Dominique has a tendency to just layer one attack on after another, making it very difficult to both dodge her and get your own attacks in.
Damage her enough, though, and Dominique will summon Bael and suck the both of you into the demonic realm. The Bael fight is complex in its own regard -- the boss is constructed of three large snake-like bodies, each with their own head and its own attacks. The human-headed snake can spit fiery orbs at the player, the cat-like snake will shoot rays from its eyes, and the frog-like snake can summon damaging bubbles that will float up the screen. Also note that Dominique will attach herself to one of the snakes and ride around the arena and she can switch snakes as she pleases. She also has her attack, shooting out lasers aimed at the player. Plus, sometimes she'll clutch her head, like she has a bad migraine, and then the demon she's riding will spit out a massive tongue at the player. It's rough.
To win the fight you need to ignore Bael and instead focus on whatever snake Dominique is riding; although all three snakes can be damaged, Dominique has her own health pool, and if you kill Dominique then Bael will die as well. While each head can be taken out (temporarily), they have much more health than Dominique so trying to take out the fight this way is a losing proposition.