Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2
Preview by Mike Finkelstein
Ever since the Bloodstained series was announced on Kickstarter, Castlevania fans have been wondering what this meant for IGA and the series as a whole. Was this going to be a one-off (or, with the prequel bonus game unlocked during the crowd funding event, a two-off) or would IGA create more games in the series. While he'd never denied interest, infact going so far as to say he'd like to make more games in the series, that wasn't the same as saying he was actively working on a new game.
Now, however, we have our answer: his cageyness was because he fully expected to make a second game, was actively working with Inti Creates on a game, and was just waiting for the right time to release information about it. Fans of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night might be a little upset because, while that game is getting regular content updates to make it an even bigger and more fleshed out experience (meeting all the goals, and more, of the Kickstarter), the next official game in the series is a sequel to the prequel (making this an interquel?), Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon.
That's not to make it out like a knock against Curse of the Moon; we here at The Inverted Dungeon truly love the retro-inspired game and are absolutely giddy at the prospect of a sequel. If anything, we actually liked the retro game a little more than its Metroidvania sibling. Plus, a second Curse of the Moon game actually could clear up some stuff for us. Before we get to that, though, let's talk about what we do clearly know.
Curse of the Moon 2 is a right and proper sequel to the original retro adventure. It looks to feature the same kind of basic gamplay, being an action platformer with the option to switch between characters and use all of your comrades, and their arsenal, to battle the demons that are terrorizing... wherever it is. The game keeps not only the gameplay in tact but also the retro graphics and music, making this a true love letter, once again, to the Castlevania series of old, just as the fans would want.
Not everything is the same as last time, though. For starters, there's a different batch of characters this time. Returning warrior Zangetsu is joined this time around by warrior-nun Dominique, sniper Robert, and corgi in a mech (yes, really) Hachi. These new heroes will bring with them new abilities and powers, making the experience of exploring however many stages in this game a different experience at its core even if all the basic gameplay otherwise remains the same.
That said, we don't expect the gameplay to remain completely untouched for one specific reason: looking at the layout of the in-game HUD we notice that there's a spot for a second player to join in. This looks like Curse of the Moon is going to feature true co-op play, a first for this series (and for any mainline Castlevania, for that matter). How this mechanic will work out, and what kind of possibilities are avaiable, is still up in the air as absolutely no co-op gameplay was featured in the only trailer so far released.
The characters are an interesting choice, and not just because there's a dog in a mech (although that does show IGA's usual flair for the goofy). Robert is a neat inclusion, a guy with a gun that harkens back not only to Henry Oldrey from Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness nbut also to the Contra series as well (another Konami mainstay). It will be interesting to see what kinds of mechanics Robert brings with him.
The more interesting choice, though, is Dominique because of what she could mean for this game and how it fits into the series. When looking at the story of Curse of the Moon, it didn't really fit properly with Ritual of the Night. At the end of the prequel our four heroes -- Zangetsu, Miriam, Alfred, and Gebel -- have all bonded together and fought their way through the main game. Zangetsu is then taken over by demons and then, if the player goes through the second play through, the rest of the heroes have to band together to fight back through the castle and free Zangetsu's soul (a process that does rid him of the demon possessing him but at the cost of his life). Ritual, though, ignores all this and pretends none of the characters know each other.
Perhaps the inclusion of Doninique, who is revealed to be the villain of Ritual of the Night, speaks to a way to align them all. Perhaps Dominique pulls Zangetsu out of his afterlife, restores him (at the cost of his memories), and sends him on a new quest to fight more demons. Perhaps this is all paryt of her long plan that leads into Ritual. It's a nice way to connect continuity and clear things up, if that's IGA's plan. Or maybe we're just overthinking this.
Whatever the case, we super excited about this game and look forward not only to being able to talk about it more over the next few months before it eventually comes out, but also we're stoked to eventually play the next game in the Bloodstained series when it finally comes out. Here's to the possibility this is the first step in many more games in the series to come.