Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 Review

Published: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 12:00 | By: Tyler Chancey
Fly Me To The Moon

Inti Creates really needs more credit for what they do. Retro-style platformers are just about everywhere, but this studio has the most consistent quality with all of their efforts. They have turned in respectable before, but Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 might be the most improved sequel they have worked on in a while. It goes that extra mile as a follow-up to its predecessor, and even when it gets iffy with its new features, it's still a blast to play.

Zangetsu in a castle across from a gargoyle
Really takes you back, doesn't it?

What A Great Night For A Curse

Curse of the Moon 2 picks up directly after the events of the first game. Demon hunter Zangetsu is off to fight the supernatural with his magical katana, and there just happens to be a tower in his path that's brimming full of evil. Thus begins another gothic adventure through multiple environments with plenty of challenges along the way. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

 
 

As before, the gameplay is heavily inspired by Castlevania III. Each level is linear, but there are detours you can take with the right know-how. You not only control Zangetsu but several other adventurers you meet along the way. There are three newcomers this time around. Dominique is a spellcaster with a high jump that fights with a long-reaching spear. Robert is a grizzled gunslinger that shoots from afar and can wall-jump. Finally, there is Hachi, an adorable corgi dog who pilots a steampunk mech suit that can go invincible temporarily. 

You can switch between these heroes at any time, and combining their abilities together always has this great sense of synergy to it. Each level has that old school quality of being themed around something like an active volcano or a seaside village hit by a blizzard, and the pixelated artwork maintains Inti Creates' high quality. Everything mixes together into a pleasant euphoria of jumping, slashing, and moving to the right that is smooth as butter.

Zangetu facing off against a large monster the size of a train
I don't know that thing is called, but it's definitely not the 4:00 PM to Newark

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 brings a slight twist to things this time around. First, there are now four episodes, scenarios where you go through the same levels again but with different characters. There's even a hidden good and bad ending for one of them if you don't find certain secrets. It can get repetitive since the branching paths offered are just B and C routes through the same levels, but it does a great job of adding more replay value.

There are small but absolutely welcome incremental tweaks as well. There are now checkpoints throughout each level – marked by lit candles – which helps progression feel smoother. Bosses now have persistent health bars that stick around after one of your characters have died, but it does fully restore if the whole gang goes down.

The only real complaint I have with Curse of the Moon 2 is that for all of its polish and presentation, it doesn't really push the envelope. Not every title has to break new ground, and there is always merit in refinement. This sequel is the best version of what it wants to be and is a delight in the moment. But, in terms of staying power or innovation, it isn't going to hold up compared to other titles out there.

Zangetsu and Miriam teaming up against a demon girl
Alright, if we stay on opposite sides we shouldn't get in each others' way.

It's Dangerous To Go Alone

The biggest addition is a local co-op mode. At any point, a friend can join your game and help take down the infernal horde. It works really well since both players can switch characters at will, but health bars are shared. If your partner dies, they can come back in again with a different character until there is only one left. At that point, they have to wait until either player one clears the stage or they go down as well.

It's a relatively harmless mode but it feels unbalanced. Players can use each other as improvised platforms and can clip through the environment, which can lead to some hilarious sequence breaking. This would be a major fault against Curse of the Moon 2, except its very level design encourages finding shortcuts and workaround solutions. As it stands now it's a great alternative for some casual couch play, which just adds to the retro nostalgic feel of the whole thing.

Hachi the dog in a mechsuit above a lion monster spewing crystals
Hachi is now in the running for the greatest dog ever.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 Review | Final Thoughts

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is the best kind of sequel, improving upon the original in every way. Levels are more complex, the gameplay is tighter, and there is a more complex story going on with its multiple episodes. While the original Curse of the Moon felt more like a retro prologue to its bigger budget Kickstarter success story, this sequel is a more comprehensive experience. Completing all of the episodes will take up ten hours of your time, and every second is a macabre delight. If you want more Bloodstained, this is a must-have.


TechRaptor reviewed Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher.

Review Summary

7.5
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 is a great follow-up to the retro throwback that was its predecessor. Simply put, there is more to play and more to enjoy.

Pros

  • Solid, Varied Level Design
  • Iconic and Memorable New Characters
  • Fun and Simple Couch Co-Op Mode

Cons

  • Repetitive Levels
  • Doesn't Bring Anything New To Genre

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Staff Writer

Born in 1990, Tyler Chancey's earliest memories were of an NES controller in his hands, and with it a passion that continued into his adulthood. He's written for multiple sites, has podcasted, and has continued to shape and encourage new talent to greater heights.