I guess you could say the Switch version is a stain on the game's pedigree...
I’m a very recent fan of Castlevania, having only played my first entry in the franchise last summer due to Simon Belmont’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Now that I’m slowly working my way through the vampire killing series I was really excited to get my first taste of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night at PAX East two weeks ago. I got to play two demos, and while I unfortunately didn’t get to play enough to have a good feel for exploring the demon castle, I did learn a few key things to both make and break the experience for the latest game from Symphony of the Night director Koji Igarashi.
I started my first playthrough of Symphony of the Night only a few weeks ago and have played maybe an hour of it, but even still it was immediately obvious just how much inspiration was taken from the original PlayStation classic. Miriam’s movement feels a lot like Alucard, and her options for attacking with a basic one-handed sword are largely identical to his. Being a fan of speedruns I naturally had to check the speed of dodging backwards, and while I didn’t have a timer to be certain I still think the fastest way to move through a room is through the dodge.
The first demo I played on a PC build had several weapons with unique movesets - another idea from Symphony of the Night. While standard fare such as two-handed swords, daggers, and fist attacks were there, Bloodstained shook things up a bit by adding a couple unique takes such as bladed boots and a whip (which sadly doesn’t make Miriam control like a Belmont). The playable area in the demo was so small that I managed to loop around it three or four times, and the variation between the weapons was enough to keep me occupied.
The second demo I played on Switch was from the very beginning of the game and gave me a better idea of how Miriam’s various spells worked. Sadly I didn’t have much opportunity to enjoy it as the Switch version of the game (played in docked mode) had some serious performance issues. While resolutions below 720p and framerates below 60fps are nothing particularly unique for Switch ports, Bloodstained would regularly drop below even 30fps, resulting in complete slowdown of the entire game. We weren’t allowed to record any footage to test the framerate for ourself, but our local video expert John Rairdin remarked after our appointment that the game looked like it was dropping below 20fps at some points.
I left my first appointment with Bloodstained feeling very optimistic about the spiritual successor to Castlevania, so seeing how poor the game runs on Switch was a huge disappointment. Bloodstained is still a few months away with a projected release in Q3 2019, so there’s still time for Igarashi and his team to clean up the technical issues and deliver an experience on Switch that’s just as good as the PC build I had the opportunity to play. Unfortunately right now it’s not looking very good, so if you’ve got a copy of the game on the way for backing the Kickstarter it might be worth considering other options for what platform you’ll be playing on when the game launches.