PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH (REVIEWED), XBOX ONE | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
As a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series, 2019's Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night hit all the right notes. Helmed by former Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi, RotN took everything that made the later 'vania games so much fun and gave them a modern sheen that felt right at home in today's gaming landscape. Its initial Kickstarter goal was reached within a matter of hours and would later be expanded with stretch goals that resulted in the retro-style prequel / companion title, Curse of the Moon, a speedily-developed (6 weeks, by all accounts) yet masterful tribute to the classic late-80s era of Castlevania.
Curse of the Moon 2 follows the exact same formula as its predecessor, retaining everything that made the original so enjoyable but making just enough changes to make it worthwhile. Lead character Zangetsu returns, alongside three new companions – spear-wielding Dominique, sniper Robert and Hachi the corgi who pilots a big chunky metal death machine. Each character has a handful of unique abilities but, if anyone dies, they're out of the game until you restart. Some optional (but very useful) areas are impossible to reach without specific characters, encouraging repeat playthroughs as you try to keep everyone alive in order to uncover all of the game's secrets.
Aside from the new characters and a new two-player mode where you can buddy up with a pal on a single screen, CotM2 is very much business as usual. Brutally tricky at times (so you'll want to make the most of the two difficulty settings which allow for infinite lives and the removal of the “knock back” effect when hit by enemies), fans of old-school platformers will be in their element here. It won't take a huge amount of time to get through (a couple of hours at the very most), but it's a super fun time while it lasts.