Tag Archives: David

First Impressions: Bloodstained – Ritual Of The Night (Switch) ~ Middle Ages Magic.

Official websiteNintendo Microsite

So, a new Metroidvania game has been released. The Metroidvania genre is one of my favorite style of games. When I heard that Koji Igarashi of Castlevania fame was the director of this game, I was beyond hyped. I even mentioned this game in my top 10 games I wanted to play in 2019. And, yes, the game was even twice on that sort of list. Anyways, this game was a Kickstarter game were major flops like Mighty Number 9 and major hits like A Hat In Time. Where does this game fall? On the major flops or on the amazing titles part of the spectrum? Let’s find out in this first impressions article. Also, feel free to give your opinion on the content of this article and/or the game in the comment section down below. A small editor note I have to make is that I have played this game before and after the visual improvement patches applied, and I will keep this in mind for this review.

Middle Ages Magic

During the Industrial Revolution, the Alchemy Guild got scared of losing their followers and patrons. So, they decided to create Shardbinders. These are humans who are forcibly fused with demonically charged crystals. Thanks to these crystals, the Shardbinders obtained magical powers. Everything was peaceful until the Fire Nation attacked, well sorta. Kinda. The Shardbinders were sacrificed and abused to summon demons from Hell (let’s be honest, this is a sort of Fire Nation. 😉 ). Now, this whole plan backfired and brought mass destruction over the whole of England. Thankfully, the Church was able to intervene and save some areas of destruction.

Two shardbinders survived the whole massacre, Gebel and Miriam. Ten years after the incidents, Miriam wakes up from her unnatural slumber and finds out that Gebel has summoned another demon to continue the revenge of the Shardbinders on what the alchemists did to him. Miriam starts her journey accompanied by Johannes, who is a former member of the Alchemy Guild. Miriam wants to stop Gebel before the whole world is destroyed.

The story itself is nothing that special. To be quite frank, the story didn’t really grab my attention. Now, I have reviewed two Castlevania games in the past: Castlevania – Portrait of Ruin and Castlevania – Lords Of Shadow – Mirror Of Shadow and of both these games, I don’t remember a lot about the story. It’s a shame since the story has quite a lot of potential to go quite in-depth and in different directions. The story takes a backseat in this game, to a point that sometimes the story is used as a sort of in-game guide. Like, when you have defeated a boss and you talk to one of the members of the Church, she straight up tells you (this isn’t an exact quote but it’s quite similar): “I have heard rumors that one of the high ranking officers can jump again in the air. (…) You need to look for a tower where…”

Now, the cast of the voice actors of this game is just mindblowing. Miriam is voiced by Erica Lindbeck who voiced Barbie herself in a few movies and also voiced one of the leading characters in Fire Emblem Echoes. Gebel is voiced by Ray Chase who’s a voice you can also hear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as Roy and in Final Fantasy 15 as Noctis. Zangetsu is voiced by a voice acting legend by the name of David Hayter who is famous for his voice work on Solid Snake. You can dig deeper into the voice cast using this page from Behind the Voice Actors. With so much talent on board and pretty good direction, you can be sure that the dub of this game is pretty well done.

Now, what could have improved the story? Well, first of all, a bit more character development. Some characters are quite two dimensional. I barely notice any progress in these characters. Secondly, I feel that too many stereotypical characters were used. A more diverse cast of characters or characters that broke their stereotype would be a great twist in the story. And finally, be a bit less hand-holding. If you want to guide the players to a certain location to gain a new power-up, you can do that by other means. I loved the system the developers used in Monster Tale on the DS. In that game, you also have a guide to where you need to go, but it’s up to you to fight through the enemies and find your way there.

Metroidvania at its finest

In the previous section, I have already mentioned three games I have reviewed that were in the same style as this game. The two Castlevania games and Monster Tale.

If you have played games like Castlevania, Metroid, Monster Tale or Axiom Verge then you’ll know what to expect in this game. In this game, you explore a huge map, defeat different bosses, learn new techniques to make exploring easier and access unknown areas. Meanwhile, you have to fight through a lot of enemies and try to balance your items right in order for you to stay alive.

Most Metroidvania’s are anything but easy. This game is no exception. This game can be quite difficult. But, the difficulty is fun difficulty. Sometimes you aren’t strong enough or don’t have the right gear to survive the encounters. Now, some people would enjoy the challenge of this game and try to defeat this game with the weakest gear possible. Now, this means that this game has some minor forms of grinding to improve your stats and defeat some bosses easier.

Now, the map of this game is quite huge. Thankfully, there are several warp points that allow you to fast travel to other areas in the castle. These warp points are in special rooms marked in green on your map. A minor nitpick I have is that the warp point to the central base of the game is outside right after some enemy encounters. I think that it would be better inside so I can go with full health to the boss. Yeah, I’m that kind of a player. So, that’s why I mentioned it as a nitpick.

Anyways, the warp rooms aren’t the only special things on your journey. You also have to save rooms. This game doesn’t have an autosave feature, but you can save (and heal your HP/MP) at the various save rooms that are shattered around the castle.

I really love the freedom of exploration in this game. While the story is a minor disappointment to me, the gameplay more than makes up for it. Exploring the castle and the areas around it is a ton of fun. Trying out the different mechanics and abilities of Miriam is just a great experience to have.

Together with the decent controls, this game is a blast to play. Now, I have read in different reviews that the controls of this game have a bit of input lag or are a bit floaty. Thankfully, I find that they improved them a lot in the patches that the game received and I think that the future patches in November 2019 will improve the game even more.

Visually underpowered

Allow me to address the elephant in the room. Look, there it is. His name is Dumbo and he has a movie made about him. Now, let’s be a bit more serious. Visually, this game doesn’t look that great when you compare it to the other versions on PlayStation or PC. The publishers even posted a statement on the rather spotty technical performance. Now, I think that’s a great move to improve technical performance through patches. On the other hand, delaying the Switch port to work on the technical performance would have been an even better move in the first place.

While the Switch is quite powerful, compared to the other consoles on the market today… Well, it’s underpowered. So, I can understand that the Switch version has some fewer animations or visual effects. Something I think that I don’t understand is the inconsistent performance of the game and the input lag in certain areas. Now, these things will be addressed in the patched that is scheduled for November. This is a shame since this game would be an amazing title to play on Halloween night, but they will miss the mark on that completely.

With all that talk about the Switch version having a spotty performance, I do have to say… I don’t find it that bad. The issues are the worst when you play the game in undocked mode. When you play this game in docked mode, this game plays just … decent. In very rare spots, the game has a bit of frame or input lag but nothing game-breaking.

In its current state, the game still looks quite good. I think the visual presentation is great and the animations are quite good as well. Together with the amazing music and enjoyable sound effects, the audiovisual presentation still gets a pass from me. So, I’m a bit mixed on this whole thing.

The game is a blast to play and has some extremely helpful features like the ability to leave markers on your map so you can remind yourself to visit these areas later. The game even has a lot of depth with its own crafting system, various shops, various unlockable skills and builds you can make… Even when you change your outfit in the menu’s, Miriam wears the armor and outfits in the game, during gameplay, and during cutscenes.

But, the whole game is held back by the lack of polish that is now coming in the form of patches. It gives the game a wrong first impression to a lot of players. Not everybody knows that this game’s performance and visuals are going to improve. Also, I have stopped playing this game because I want to replay this game when all the patches have been released so I can experience this game in it’s the best form. And that’s what’s so disappointing to me. I’m already halfway the game and now I have to restart the whole game. Well, then again, it’s my own choice…

So yeah, this article is going to be continued. I think it would be a bit unfair to fully judge the game right now when I know that there are patches to improve the visuals, the controls and the gameplay in the near future. But, I still wanted to talk about this game so here we are. So, for a full review, you will have to come back a few weeks after the patches have been released. If I don’t forget, I’ll also link the updated article here: [TO BE ANNOUNCED.] And maybe I should go more in-depth about the gameplay in that updated article as well.

And that’s everything I currently wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

Re: What makes a good RPG?

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Link to the original article

When I was surfing at “my” other blog, I found that somebody made a comment to an article that David wrote about, “what makes a good RPG?” And I thought to myself, why don’t I do that exercise for myself? So, I started thinking and thinking. What makes a good RPG? I tried to think back at all RPG’s I played and now I think I finally have an answer. I’ll be commenting on the original article David wrote on ButtonSmashers. My goal is to check how much opinions actually differ. Just a fun little experiment. But feel free to comment here about my view on things. And don’t forget to leave a like on that article. 

J-RPG vs RPG

So David claims that J-RPG wins over the Western RPG’s. Let’s do the test. Is this true? Or is it just his personal preference? If I need to answer the question myself, I would agree. Japanese RPG’s are better. I find myself liking it’s content more then western RPG’s.  But which RPG’s have you played? Final Fantasy? Dragon Quest? Golden Sun? Skyrim? I hate to break it too you but 3 out of these four are J-RPG’s.

But if you look at it, David has a good point. If you try to list the amount of known Western RPG’s against the known J-RPG’s, it’s clear who wants that round. It’s Diablo, Elder Scrolls, Fall-Out, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic VS Final Fantasy, Golden Sun, Dragon Quest, Lufia….

Does that mean that J-RPG’s are better the Western RPG’s? Well, no. Actually not. Does one suck? No, not at all. Or are the Western RPG’s better then the J-RPG’s? No, that’s not the case. In fact, they are actually equals. Let me explain. J-RPG’s and Western RPG’s have a very different style of gameplay. The core idea of leveling up a character is still there. But the execution is too different to say which one is better then the other. In my opinion is as stupid as trying to decide which kind of soccer is better. In a hall, on the street or professional level. Since it are two separate worlds, So, why comparing and trying to decide which one is better. Silly stuff in my book.

Importance of the elements.

lufia2battle

Ah, Lufia II on the SNES.

So, here is where I actually disagree with David.

So what about art, music, mechanics and voice acting? Surely a good RPG needs those elements?

With the exception of music, the answer is no, none of the stuff listed are needed. They add icing to the cake definitely, and increase the enjoyment of some games. But the only thing that’s really needed is a great story backed by a killer sound track.

I simply don’t think so. Honestly, the mechanics are truly important as well. Yes, the music is important as well. And it’s true that the voice acting isn’t that crucial. Like one of my favorite RPG’s on the DS, Suikoden Tierkreis has terrible voice acting yet it’s an amazing RPG.

A killer soundtrack, well David, let’s be real here. How boring would a game be with repetitive music or no music at all? Music spices everything up.

But mechanics are important. And why? Well, let’s take a J-RPG to explain my point. Final Fantasy 13 for the XBOX360. From what I read, the mechanics are so watered down that you can’t explore and like in a spoof that JonTron made, “the game plays by itself.” So, hold the phone here. This game has barely no mechanics yet a killer soundtrack… Oh dear.

Mechanics are important to help the player go to guide through the game. If the only thing you need to do is use some different attacks without it really having depth, a game becomes boring. And it may even have the best story ever written, only the patient and dedicated players will play it. But it wouldn’t make for a good RPG.

Lux Pain is another example for on the Nintendo DS that came dangerously close for me. In this game, you do the same thing over and over again. There was little to no variation in that game. Lucky enough, near the middle it truly picked up and it became interesting.

To close this segment off, the fact that you need a good backstory goes without saying. It keeps the player engaged into your game.

My opinion.

1207284085_1201013112_orcselvesii200709051101ea6When I continue to read the article David wrote, it becomes more and more clear to me that the article is pretty much his opinion. And while I respect his opinion, I clearly showed I disagree when even reading the first few paragraphs.

And that’s the beauty of blogging. You can look at other people’s article(s) to get idea’s and maybe you can react. But if I would talk about my opinion about the whole article, we would be here another day as well.

So, that beauty boils down to personal preference. A good RPG would be one where all the elements that make a good game, mix together quite nicely. A good soundtrack, with a great story, enriching gameplay and great mechanics. Add some great mood setting graphics and some nice sound design with it and you have a great RPG. But if you give us voice acting, then the RPG isn’t anything short for amazing. While, truth to be told, maybe RPG’s are really great without it. Early RPG’s serve as a great example.

But if I really need to try to answer objectively on the question “what makes a good RPG?” well, then I would need to say that a game is a good RPG when it’s successful in tricking you or making you believe or making you feel like the main character. If you feel as a lonely survivor in Fall-Out or as a world saving hero in Final Fantasy, then the game is a good RPG.

Personally, a good RPG is a game that challenges me, gives me a story I’ll remember and is one where you grow along with your character. How more grinding there is, the less happy I’m. I like to continue on. I dislike being stuck.

Anyways, I think I’ll close off my article here. Thanks David from the ButtonSmashers for writing this interesting article. It was surely a nice read. You made some great points. I silently hope you give this article a read and made a comment? Thanks for reading and hopefully until my next article!