Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night received an unexpected free update recently for Steam, GOG, PS4 and Xbox. November 10th brought two pieces of content, the chroma wheel customization option and a new playable character. Bloodless, a fan favorite boss from the base game and playable character in Boss Revenge mode, can be played at any time by starting a new game and entering the name BLOODLESS. Note that capitalization is required for the mode to startup properly and is reminiscent of previous secret characters from the Castlevania series. Fans and backers of the original Kickstarter have been waiting patiently for developers to release the third playable character that was promised since the inclusion of Zangetsu earlier this year.

Interestingly enough, Bloodless is meant as just a bonus playable character and not one of the planned Kickstarter stretch goals. Fans still have one mystery on the way, but Bloodless’s campaign is far more fleshed out then even Zangetzu’s. After recently playing through both, I have more appreciation for them as unique experiences.

The Bloodless campaign provides a more true to form Metroidvania gameplay loop. While Zangetsu had all his powers unlocked out of the gate, Bloodless must hunt down everything besides her trusty umbrella. Besides a few basic navigation tools, players will be scouring for many of the characters iconic blood magic abilities and hidden stat upgrades. Bloodless can also be leveled up like other characters through combat. Exploration is just more rewarding this time around and slows the pace down a bit from Zangetsu mode. Put in the time and Bloodstained’s newest character can become quite powerful, and while the campaign is not all that challenging, difficulty balance is pretty well considered to prevent boredom.

Playing more like a mage, means that Bloodless requires more MP management and she has many tools to help compensate. Another neat character touch is that Bloodless’s dress changes dependent on MP value. Maintain high levels of MP and enjoy gallivanting around in a floor length gown, but begin using special abilities and notice that the dress gets shorter and more risque. This is a reference to the provocative nature of the boss and vampires typically depicted in fiction.

Another nice reference to Bloodless herself, is that gameplay starts from the location she is fought during Miriam’s campaign. Small touches like this are much appreciated. Overall, I was very satisfied with the work that went into Bloodstained’s newest playable character. Most of the gameplay and toolset were likely ironed out during the development of Boss Revenge mode, but the extra effort put into making players want to explore and find secrets went a long way in my opinion. Bloodless is included in a free update to all owners of the game. If you enjoyed Bloodstained and have been looking for an excuse to revisit, this is as good a time as any. Several new modes and updates have been queued up for end of 2020 and Q1 2021. Check back for news and reviews regarding these inclusions in the coming months.

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