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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!

First Impression: Fort Triumph (PC) ~ How To Move?

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Steam page

So, I recently bought a Switch. One of the games I want to play on it is Mario + Rabbits – Kingdom Battle. Due to budget constraints, I’m unable to play that game now. Thankfully, I found Fort Triumph on Steam. A game that plays similarly to that game. Now, is it a good replacement or not? Let’s find out in this first impression. Note, that I got a press copy of the game but the developers requested that I give 100% my opinion on this game. This game is also in early access and under very active development. Every week this game gets a patch. This review is written on v0.7.4.5 & v0.7.7 so any complaints or suggestions might be invalid later in time. So, let’s go to FORT TRIUMPH

How to move to?

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In this game, you play as Liandra Pageturner (or whatever random name the generator decides to spit out) and her crew of various warriors. You start out in a prologue where you learn the basics after talking to your horse. I adore the names in this game of the characters. It fits the funny writing of this game really well. While this game isn’t “LMFAO”-funny, it can crack you up from time to time and makes you put a smile on your face.

It’s a story where things aren’t taken too seriously. Which is quite surprising for this gameplay-style, since they mostly have very in-depth stories. It’s a breath of fresh air actually. A suggestion for future development is that, in the final version of this game, you give also prologue chapters to each other character. This fleshes them out a bit more and gives the player the chance to get used to other playstyles each character brings.

So far, I have only played a few missions of the first campaign and I have to say that I really enjoyed myself. I can’t wait to see where the story is going to take us. Storywise, they don’t need to make any improvements. The way it’s getting developed it perfect. Like I said earlier, a bit more introduction to the other characters would be neat.

I already mentioned this in my introduction, but this game is in early access. So, I can criticize it for bugs like freezing when you alt+tab out of the game during dialogues. These things get patched out since the developer is very active on the forums and listing to feedback from their players. It’s always a joy to see what will be changed after the next update. There is currently a built-in bug reporting tool which is extremely handy.

Now, this is a tactical combat game. At this point in time, I really think that it’s a good idea that you mention everything you think to the developers. Like, when the enemies almost never miss an attack and you seem to miss your long-range attacks all the time. There is a lot of polishing work that needs to be done. This game has a lot of potential but needs user input and playtesting.

Polishing with a cloth

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This game currently has 1 and a half campaigns. In the first “campaign” you get mostly introduced to the basic mechanics of the game. The only issue I have is that most of this tutorial focuses on two characters. And not on the 4 characters you have at your disposal in chapter 1.

In the first chapter, the difficulty curve is a bit, wack. At this moment in time, the game isn’t that balanced. I’m quite certain that in the future, this game will be more polished and we might get difficulty settings.

Now, before I continue, it might look like I’ll be bashing the game left and right. That I’m finding negatives all over the place. But, keep in mind that this game is still under development. There is a lot here already, the only thing the developers now need to do is to polish the game up in something quite unique. I’m not hating on the game, nor am I saying it’s a bad game. With that said, let’s move on.

Visually, this game looks amazing. I really like the art style of this game. The levels you visit are detailed and the animation is amazing. I really like how long-distance shots give you zoom in on the action as if you were watching an action movie. Maybe it’s a good idea to disable those to give the game more fighting power on older hardware?

The UI of this game needs some polishing. Things I would love to see is, in what order you are going to move your units and the enemy units are going to move like in Stella Glow. Also, I would love to see where you could move with your character. You do see the boundaries, yes. But, I would love to see a visual representation on the ground how far you can go.

Besides that, I would love to have a sort of mini-map. And on that mini-map, you would see where certain protective places are and maybe easier to see if you are in the enemy’s line of sight.

The biggest issue with the UI right now is the level-up system. It works just fine, don’t get me wrong. The issue with it is, that it doesn’t jump directly in the eye. I didn’t always notice that I couldn’t continue since one of my units leveled up. Maybe a sound effect and a bit more visual flair would be great.

Now, I’m not going to review the mechanics too much in-depth since they are subject to change. For example, the leveling up system gives you two random choices of new abilities. This makes leveling up unique and interesting. But, the stats don’t increase nearly as much. I barely notice any change in stats apart from a very tiny bit of additional health.

At the moment of writing, I really don’t like the difficulty curve in this game. I’m not saying that the game is too hard. I’m saying that this game gets way too hard, way to fast. For example, some enemies drop healing items, but you can’t store them.

In addition to that, you can’t save during missions. You will lose progress. This is something I wish they changed. Now, I could possibly rant about this, but the changelog said: “added basic save game information”. So, here is my hoping they will expand this feature. 🙂

Randomized subtitle.

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Now, I know that this game isn’t the easiest one around. And honestly, besides some tweaks, I don’t mind it at all. Stella Glow was also pretty difficult and I loved the challenge in that game.

After I got used to the controls in this game, I was trying different strategies and replaying missions in the hope I was able to beat it this time. This game is a lot of fun to play and should be played in longer sessions. In addition to the music, this game’s atmosphere is a joy to see. The sound effects are really well done too. There should be a bit more, for example, some grunts and moans during conversations would be pretty welcome.

Speaking about the controls, I really have to get used to them. The big issue is that I played more of my tactical RPGs on the Nintendo (3)DS and those use a completely different control scheme.

Something I would love to see is a rebind option for the camera controls. Yes, you can control the camera to see the amazing detailed world from various different angles. Now, the controls don’t recognize AZERTY as AZERTY but as QWERTY. And in the version I played, there were no options to rebind them.

So, it’s quite clear that this game needs a lot of polishing work and besides that, more content. At this moment there is only one chapter, besides the tutorial. The game has a lot of potential but needs play-testers. Please, I urge you to go and take a look at the Steam store page and if that interests you, go ahead and buy it and give it a try.

The game didn’t disappoint me at all. It made me think about things to help improve this game and drew me into its world. I can’t wait to play more in the future and see where the developers will take the game.

You have two options if you enjoy TRPG’s. You either play the game and give feedback to help the game grow. Or you either wait until the game goes out of early access and play it then. Don’t let the cartoony graphics fool you. This game is good and it’s cheap, only 20€.

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about the game for now. When this game is in a more complete state, I’ll take another look at this but for now: 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, take care and have a great rest of your day.

Gaming Music – Number 7: Moar good tracks

EletronicSuperJoy

More music articles

Oh yes, it’s time to write a new article for this series again. In this article, I didn’t look for artwork that has to do with game music but I used the first screen from Electronic Super Joy. A game that’s good because of the music. Anyways, I’m a huge fan of game music. I admit that I listen to it nearly all the time. Even when going to work. It’s just addicting to listen to the amazing tunes they create for games. The atmosphere is just so… amazing thanks to the music. Now, I do have some rules. I can’t pick two tracks of one game in each article. Also, I avoid picking two tracks from the same series in one article. I hope I never slip up and pick one track twice. If that happens, feel free to leave a comment. Oh, and do feel free to comment on my music picks for this article. Anyways, here we go!

#1: The Legend Of Zelda – A Link Between Worlds (3DS) – Lowrule Overworld Theme

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Such a shame that I haven’t finished this game. Yet, the music is amazing. I really enjoy the melody of this tune. Yet, I have written a first impression of this game.

You truly recognize the melody of the overworld from Hyrule. This theme gives a more acapella-remix, one where the major leading instruments are taken out.

To be honest, this was my ringtone while I was playing the game. It happens frequently that a track from a game I really like becomes my ringtone.

Something I dislike about this track is how it doesn’t fit the mood of Lowrule as I image it. I honestly think it should be a lot darker. Then again, this track might be in such a light mood since our hero is bringing light and peace to this realm.

Yeah, this must be it.

#2: Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright (3DS) – Objection Theme

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Remember my extremely long review of this game? Or my first impression. The game is amazing in my eyes. It really deserved all the hype and it totally met all my expectations. As usual, I ignored the posts with new screenshots to avoid spoilers. This way I can totally hype up myself.

I’m still enjoying the additional content for this game. Maybe one day, I might write a game quicky about it. Who knows. I’m changing the formula of game quickies anyways.

But I really enjoy this theme, it’s one of the best in the series. I’m hoping they are making a sequel for this game in the future since it deserves one. This is one of those kind of games where you’re sad it’s over. And be sure that I put the music of this game on replay. Just like this track. No question about it.

#3:  Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald (GBA) – Legendary Pokemon

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When this track played when I found the legendary Pokémon for the first time in Ruby, I was hyped. While I think that the second generation is the best Pokémon generation, the 3rd game is the actual game I really got into the series.

This track still stays with me until this day. I fondly remember decoding the braille marking on the stones on get the Reggies.

I love listing to this track when I’m riding my bike home through the rain. I get the same vibe then from fighting a legendary Pokémon.

What kind of memories do you have with this track? Please let me know in the comments. Since I’m really curious.

#4: DuckTales: Remastered (PC ~ Steam) – The Moon

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I haven’t played a lot of this game. Yet, this track got posted on my forum by one of my friends who finished the game. He says that they keep this track until the end of the game. And dayum, is this a track to close off the game.

I really liked the music in the original but the remix for the remastered version is really amazing. Thumbs up for the creator of this track, or the remixer. It’s really well done. It’s almost perfect. I feel a new ringtone coming up. Yeah, I think I might take this one as a ringtone for a while.

#5: Okami (Wii) – Giving Kushinada A Ride

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Man, I’m so bummed out that I saved over my save file. I need to restart this game. Now, this game isn’t too hard so it’s no real pain. The biggest issue is that I have to restart. And this game is pretty long.

Strangely, I haven’t written any article about this game. Well, I have mentioned it in an article of games I want to finish. But that has been an article of last year. Now, I added this game to the list to write a first impression about in the future. Maybe you will see this game appearing on my blog in August.

This game has beautiful music. That’s why I’m mentioning a track in the article of course. The music is very amazing. You really can image giving somebody a ride (to safety). Through a beautiful painted landscape, this moment is really memorable.

The rest of the soundtrack is pretty amazing, but none is so memorable to me as this one. Yeah, when you play it and get to this moment… You will understand what I mean.

And yeah, this track is my alarm in the morning. When I need to wake up and go to work. It really wakes me up. (And my mother, who is in the room next doors.)

Final words

There we go, another music article. I hope you enjoyed this one. For my next article in this series I have an amazing idea. I’m listing the remixes and game-related music tracks I love to listen to.

I have a few great tracks in mind. And it might not be the only one of it’s kind. So yeah, keep an eye on my social media for more updates on the releases.

Anyways, I think I’m going to end this article here. Thanks for reading and until the next time!