Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night Nintendo Switch Review - Less Lively

  • First Released Jun 18, 2019
  • NS

Castle crashers.

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On PS4 and PC, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a lovely homage to classic Castlevania with a collection of smart quality-of-life improvements and impeccable craftsmanship. Koji Igarashi has been hailed as a visionary who helped define the “Metroidvania” genre, and his return to it is worth celebrating. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch version of Bloodstained suffers from significant technical problems, and it's difficult to recommend over other platforms.

Symphony of the Night may be the most famous of Igarashi’s works, but the series of micro-sized follow-ups he produced on the Game Boy Advance showed portability was a boon to its newfound RPG-like mechanics. Games like Harmony of Dissonance squeezed much of what was wonderful about those games into a form factor that allowed picking up and playing wherever you might go. Bloodstained appeared primed to offer this again for a modern age, with one contiguous experience between the console and portable forms. However, the Nintendo Switch version of Bloodstained struggles to deliver an experience on par with other platforms.

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Switch ports often get visual downgrades compared to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions, but Bloodstained fares especially poorly in the transition to Switch. The backgrounds are muddy and the character models lack crisp edges and flourishes on their accessories. Textures like clothing often appear flat. The style of the game on more powerful platforms--which is often a visual treat with lots of subtle detail on the environments and enemy designs--doesn’t lend itself to being compromised in this way.

Performance issues are even more difficult to overlook. A combination of uneven frame rate and high input latency makes it feel sluggish and unresponsive. After experiencing the game as intended, it can feel like the hero, Miriam, is struggling to move through molasses, as if the air itself is thick. This diminishes the normally fast-paced action and makes dangerous enemies even more difficult than they should be. Bloodstained is finely-tuned to feel challenging without veering into frustration, and the unresponsiveness on Switch compromises this careful balance. Long load times only add to the annoyance, breaking the flow of action further.

Those compromises distract from what is otherwise an expertly modernized Metroidvania. Quality-of-life changes like loadouts slots and weapon-specific techniques make combat feel more versatile. Shards collected from monsters both supply a different kind of loot to collect and imbue you with a variety of powers that let you customize the game to your playstyle. Crafting weapons, enhancing shards, and cooking all give you multiple avenues to power up and suit your equipment to the challenges you face. It’s a very satisfying progression from the feeling of total helplessness that envelops you, regardless of platform.

Best of all, the castle design itself unfolds beautifully throughout the experience. The layout of the environments inspires curiosity and a sense of adventure as you slowly unlock more tools to access additional areas. The mystery of the castle itself and the puzzle that brings about the true end-game merges the game’s lore and mechanics wonderfully. And the monster design and dialogue show a playful sensibility that contrasts with the dark and dour tone of the story. [Read our PS4 and PC review for our full thoughts.]

All of Bloodstained's excellent qualities make the Nintendo Switch version even more disappointing. Though 505 Games has acknowledged its technical shortcomings and committed to issuing updates, at launch it is simply too compromised for its own good. If you have no choice but to play on Nintendo Switch, it may still be worth overlooking the weak spots and taking in the experience. If you have other options, though, play on a different platform. The portability of the Nintendo Switch could have made it the absolute best version for a retro-inspired game like Bloodstained. Instead, it’s the worst.

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The Good
Interconnected level design that unfolds beautifully
Versatile Shards and weapons provide combat flexibility
New quality-of-life features modernize while fitting right in with classic gameplay
Goofy sense of humor keeps gothic tone feeling light and enjoyable
The Bad
Visual fidelity is significantly downgraded on Nintendo Switch, compromising beautiful designs
Frame rate and input issues make combat feel sluggish and frustrating
Long load times break up the flow
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

About the Author

Steve completed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on PS4 and played approximately three hours to test the Nintendo Switch version. He’s a miserable little pile of secrets. Review code was provided by the publisher.
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Avatar image for Dezuria

Played this on PS4 and it was excellent. I loved it. It truly felt like a Castlevania game. It's basically Symphony of the Night 2.

Don't let the Switch version tech issues scare you away from playing the game, just get it on something else if you're an Iga-vania fan.

Avatar image for slipperypete848

I like the Switch, its pumped out some real classics so far and its been a great idea. We need to admit though Nintendo needs a beefier Switch to come out. I would think with todays tech they should be able to make a Switch on par with vanilla Ps4 graphics, if not at least vanilla Xbox one (at least when docked). Current gen will be supported for a while after next gen releases and at least in this way, Switch can at least have more newer games in its library. The only problem with this is though that inevitably some games that come out for the new Switch wont work on the original Switch...I see it EXTREMELY difficult for games to come out on PC, PS5, next Xbox, and original Switch. I guess Nintendo can always rely on their 1st party games, but then they would have to revert back to really no 3rd party games....Curious to see what they do next.

Avatar image for neurogia

Not sure what everyone was expecting. The Switch is just a portable handheld best delegated to first party Nintendo games with the peripheral option of connecting it to the TV.

Avatar image for zyxahn

The poop graphics return.

Avatar image for hosedandhappy

I don't quite understand why people are surprised by this or why Switch ports are getting knocked for performance issues.

No one is knocking the PS4 version because it's not portable.

Avatar image for asnakeneverdies

@hosedandhappy: Portability is both a feature and an inherent compromise. Something that's required, not desired. That's with the exception of games whose core loop is reliant on mobility, such as Pokémon GO. It's our prerogative to have preferences on the matter, Hosed. Performance compromises, however, are universally detrimental.

It sometimes baffles me how portability is not construed as being de facto derogatory, but then I am reminded that Capitalism beguiles, and that we Critterfolk were bred and conditioned for such beguilement.

Avatar image for jesterofbass

@hosedandhappy: Totally understandable with games like Doom, Wolfenstein, and eventually the Witcher 3. The fact that those run on the Switch at all is a small miracle and the trade-offs in visual fidelity and performance are understandable. But a game like Bloodstained, while pretty, isn't graphically intensive enough to run AS bad as it currently does. They initially planned a Vita version ffs.

This isn't a "the Switch isn't good enough" problem, this is a bad port job problem. Capable patches in the future should hopefully fix it.

Avatar image for Kefka-

Played a bit of the PC version (all of first stage/area) seems pretty neat.

Avatar image for KiriharaZro

Another game that proove the Switch can't match the quality of console versions.

Avatar image for chisoxrule

I wanted to get the Switch version but ended up with the XBox edition...

Avatar image for asnakeneverdies

While no platform could make this game look good, at least here its bland ugliness might be obscured. Its presentational incompetence, scapegoated to the poor rendering of lesser hardware. ?

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

@asnakeneverdies: I think you may not bet aware of the graphic changes the game got. It doesn't look like those beta videos and demo anymore.

Avatar image for zyxahn

@Warlord_Irochi: I don't get it either. It looks pretty good on the XB1 version.

Avatar image for asnakeneverdies

@Warlord_Irochi: I've seen the official before and after video, Irochi. The new shaders and post processing effects are very noticeable. ?

Avatar image for lostn

that's just the realities of the switch.

The switch port will always look and run worse than the other consoles. It's using a 2015 mobile phone CPU.

You buy this thing as a secondary console to play Nintendo games and play everything else on your primary console. If you're expecting it to replace your first console, well, you get games like this.

Avatar image for jinzo9988

Blame the devs, not the console. How this game doesn't run at 1080p 60 fps with little to no compromises on visuals on the Switch is a mystery to me. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks the way it does and runs 1080p 60 fps just fine.

Avatar image for stelios

@jinzo9988: Son, this game doesn't run 1080p/60 on the base PS4 either, a significantly more powerful console AND the primary console of the game's development.

Also, it runs on UE4, which is not Switch friendly, especially if the given game hasn't been made from the ground up with the Switch in mind.

All in all, even after the patches, don't expect 1080p/60 or even a visual upgrade. Logic dictates that they'll focus on stabilizing performance at 30 fps, remedy the crashes and reduce the input lag.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

@jinzo9988: It runs in UE4, an engine that was not designed for the Switch on the get-go.
Mario Kart 8 runs on an engine which is "Switch-ready"

There, mystery solved :)

Avatar image for blowfish82

@jinzo9988: this is 3d rendered, high res textures. An optimal way for developers to develop their game. Sorry bud, shoulda done your homework... tegra x1 is and was old af outdated junk. That goes for when that little toy released.

Avatar image for Arkhalipso

@jinzo9988: I mean, it's a multiplatform game.

Avatar image for tingtong

Just wait for the 4K Switch to drop soon.. I’m sure it’ll get a patch & run smooth as butter.

Avatar image for stelios

@tingtong: I'll be serious now. Don't expect a 4k handheld device anytime soon. The technology is not here yet and we have a long way till we get there.

In case of an "enhanced" Switch though, an optimistic outlook would be performance close to base Xbox One or even PS4, if we want to be extreme, in docked mode. Whatever the case, Nintendo does not focus on power but rather creativity, so don't make high hopes for a direct competitor to upcoming consoles from Sony and Microsoft. They sell portability and their excellent first party line up, not 4k and Cyberpunk at max settings.

Avatar image for tingtong

@stelios: I play Nintendo for Nintendo games, so its all good.. any upgrade or enhanced player experience for those will be most welcome and a day 1 purchase…Always love watching Zelda evolve one minuscule ass bit at a time.

But nobody knows what Nintendo has up their sleeve.. these times are more unpredictable than ever. And yeah, when I say 4K; of course I mean via docked mode & 1080 for handheld.. I’d be more than content with that as well as some other upgrades to help those colors pop like HDR/OLED…think that would benefit its style of games more than anything since like you said - they don’t try to compete in raw graphics power.

Avatar image for stelios

@tingtong: Whatever they have up their sleeve, it is not some major hardware upgrade. 4k docked is simply impossible given the current tech in mobile chipsets. It doesn't exist. They would have to completely redesign the console. Perhaps they will have 4k output in their next generation console.

HDR/OLED and a 1080p screen is not out of the question, but I believe Nintendo is looking to have competitive prices, when such upgrades would make the console significantly more expensive. Also, a 1080p screen doesn't mean much if their hardware won't allow games to render natively at this resolution in handheld. Right now we're seeing sub HD resolutions in handheld, so a jump to native 1080p would require a major hardware refresh that can possibly put the console outside of reasonable price ranges.

I frankly believe Nintendo should focus on streaming services, release a 1080p Switch and allow services like Stadia and X cloud on the platform. It has potential to become an excellent streaming device, complimented by Nintendo's stellar first party output.

Avatar image for stelios

@tingtong: 4k Switch? Are you insane?

The Switch Pro will be 16k / 244fps....ON HANDHELD! There are no televisions high end enough to support it in docked mode!

Avatar image for KiriharaZro

@stelios: You're so funny.

Avatar image for stelios

@KiriharaZro: awwwww, thanks :)

Avatar image for KiriharaZro

@stelios: what about now with your Un-Switch console? LMAO

Avatar image for blowfish82

@stelios: hes just your average nintendo customer...

Avatar image for xantufrog

@blowfish82: ok, that's cute and all, but save it for System Wars. There's no need to flamebait here and attack fans of a different platform you clearly disdain. Like anything constructive will come of that...

Avatar image for Sound_Demon

Nice way to corner a small developer Gamespot.

This will probably fly over your head Steve but your review is extremely unfair, whether you care or not. The graphical upgrade happened before the release date due to fan request and to a small dev company, this took time away from testing and polishing the new tunings rupturing the switch version at the seams. They obviously did not want a delayed switch version and have claimed, BEFORE THIS REVIEW, that they are working on it.

See hollow knight for another example of a game in which devs put in extra effort to make the Switch version 60fps as to not be inferior in quality.

Do some research next time please.

Avatar image for csward

@Sound_Demon: Dude what's your problem? The game doesn't run well. He has to review the game based on what it is now, not whether you think it's "fair" based on your own arbitrary standards. For all he knows they developers is lying and won't fix it or will fix it only slightly. Get over it.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

@Sound_Demon: The game has more bugs on Switch, crashes more regularly on this console, and suffer from input delay.

Do some research next time please.

Avatar image for Litchie

@Sound_Demon: You're basically saying this game should get a good score because the developer said they're going to fix it. Probably one of the dumbest things I've heard.

"They obviously did not want a delayed switch version"

Well, they obviously should've delayed the Switch version. But I guess greed speaks louder.

See Hollow Knight for an example of how you release a game when it's done.

Hope you don't write any reviews yourself.

Avatar image for Sound_Demon

@Litchie: No wise guy. I'm saying that after pathetic fan bickering, the devs were nice enough to listen to the feedback pre-release and change the game. The reviewers could respond by mentioning that this review is either before a patch. I'm not going to condemn a tiny indie studio for failing in meeting changed expectations and schedule. It's like none of you read my comment. This whole community is pathetic.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

@Sound_Demon: Doesn't change the fact that the game is broken and should be reviewed as such. The developer statements have absolutely no bearing to people who haven't been following the development and just want to play the game (i.e. people who don't read videogame websites). Stating this in a review is pointless, because it doesn't change the fact that the game, at release, is broken.

Sure, they'll fix it, as a result of changing the game because of feedback, but their decision to release the game unfinished is on them. They should have pushed it back. The fans would have been disappointed, surely, but at least they would have had a finished game instead of playing a broken game waiting for it to be fixed. The practice of releasing unfinished games, for whatever reason, should be admonished, and no reviewer has any obligation to forgive them for it.

Avatar image for chillingnaire

@Sound_Demon: Don't release it till its fixed. Simple, its a 6. Other games get trashed for being unfinished so should this game

Avatar image for rickjamesia

@Sound_Demon: It's a small developer but this is still a business we're talking about. They didn't accidentally make the performance poor, they made a conscious decision that it was worth more money to release it in a broken state knowing most people buying the game would not research enough to know there were issues and would not put enough time into the game quickly enough to outpace their ability to patch the game. The best way to make sure your customers know something is not ready to be consumed the way you intended is to just not sell it. The review reflects that it is an inferior version of the game and reviews for other versions of the game on this same site are higher, which I think is probably a good way to inform people they may be better off getting the game elsewhere. I don't think that's unfair to the developers, as they are still getting favorable press that could garner potential sales on some platform, but seeing all of this feedback around the internet on this version of the game will help a smart business handle things differently the next time

Avatar image for brandsome

@Sound_Demon: Cool, they can update the score once those issues are fixed.

But for now it's a 6

Avatar image for meharu

I still don't have the game. Any news about updating the PS4 Pro version to unlock a higher resolution above 1080p ?

Avatar image for slipperypete848

@meharu: yea thats pretty crazy for the Pro not have higher then 1080p for a game thats not demanding at all. Should at least be checkerboard 4k.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

I expect Gamespot to update this review when the issues are fixed.

Avatar image for santinegrete

What? a 6? I could swear it was an 8 yesterday (and deservingly so)

Avatar image for csward

@santinegrete: Viewing different system versions you are, young Padawan.

Avatar image for blowfish82

@santinegrete: have fun with that... 540p with 1080p native assets lol switch is a toy

Avatar image for DJSONIC

@sanatinegrete: This is specifically the Switch version.

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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night More Info

  • First Released Jun 18, 2019
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is an exploration-focused, side-scrolling platformer featuring RPG and crafting elements from Koji Igarashi.
    Average Rating31 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    505 Games
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Blood, Partial Nudity, Violence