Iggy’s World Halloween Month: Castlevania Symphony of the Night
It’s time to conclude Halloween Month here for the RPG crew with a game that I’ve been told ages to play. I’ll lay this out and say that I have never been truly interested in the Castlevania series growing up nor when I came back to gaming 3 years ago. I didn’t know this was a franchise till I saw a series of youtube reviews, and that peaked my interests. This game is considered by many to be the peak of Castlevania awesomeness, but what about a person who has no experience with the mythos? Without further adieu it’s time for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night!
For the first time in Castlevania history, this game isn’t directly centered around the clan Belmont aka the people who are destined to kill Dracula. This story in fact shifts the camera to Dracula’s own son Alucard. Due to Richter Belmont missing after defeating Dracula, Alucard decided to investigate. To not give to much away this game is a lot about the legacy of Castlevania and what it means to be under your fathers shadow, plus being torn between two worlds. It’s beaten over the players head, it’s told rather elegantly in the few cut scenes that are sprinkled through out the game. As much as I enjoy the theme of Symphony of the Night, that’s not why I many people played but it’s the gameplay.
By now you’ve heard the term “Metroidvania” and some of you might not know that’s because of this game’s approach. Prior to this game Castlevania was a traditional side scroller known for it’s difficulty. Calling back to Castlevania II, Konami took the formula that made Super Metroid a smash hit and applied it to their franchise. This game is an explorers dream, as it invites you to look into every nook and cranny of Castlevania. The best part is that the player is handsomely rewarded with better equipment or health upgrades. I’ll even go so far as to say that Symphony of the Night does a better job of informing the player on where to go next, than Super Metroid did.
There will be some people who still be confused on what to go next, but even then it’s easier to figure out. Of course exploring the game is just one aspect, the other aspect that makes this game so great is the deep combat system.
Alucard himself has to be one of the most versatile characters I’ve seen in a video game. Not only his he cable of defeating enemies with his bare fists at the start of the game, but he’s able to use various swords and shields. It doesn’t end there due to Alucard being able to gain transformations and with the right amount of money can buy spell scrolls and with button inputs use said scrolls. It gives the player so much to play with and yet none of it is really required. Nothing is forced on the player, and if you ask any gamer they would reply with a yell of victory.
So when you combine such a deep combat system with a even more satisfying exploration aspect, this game has to be perfect right? Well sadly this isn’t the case.
After completing certain events, a second castle will show up and it’s UPSIDE DOWN! Everybody awe and applaud I know I did when I first saw it on screen. That’s where the excitement ends because the upside down castle simply drags, due to the only real addition is harder enemies. Yes there are some hidden goodies but in grander scheme of the game it pales in comparison to the first act. The other lacking aspect of this game are this game are the boss battles. None of them are actually challenging, and while they look cool visually they offer simply strategies. Even Dracula is a bit of a of a pushover.
Even with it’s fault Castlevania: Symphony of The Night is worth your time and money. It’s great for new fans and old ones alike, with it’s striking visuals and even better music Symphony of The Night is damn fine game. Plus it appears this formula worked because nearly every Castlevania game since this one has been “Metroidvania” so it looks like Konami found a winning formula.
Castlevania Symphony of The Night earns a 8/10