In the late 1990’s, there were two different Castlevania games. One was Castlevania 64, which seemed to be the more promising of the two games since it was in 3D, but it turned out to be one of the worst games in the series and on the N64. The other was Symphony of the Night, which was 2D but it was a surprise hit and the game most fans considered to be the magnum opus for the series. But after many “Metroidvanias” on GBA and DS, they ran dry about ten years ago, following a split from Koji Igarashi and Konami. Since he could no longer make Castlevania games, he decided to make another series that plays almost the same. I had the Nintendo Switch version, but it’s also on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
The hero of the story is a young and beautiful woman named Miriam. Unfortunately she has been cursed with some kind of demon shards that would normally fatally kill a normal human being. She vows to stop her old friend Gebel who seems to have gone totally evil. A giant castle awaits her, along with a sword-wielding samurai-turned demon hunter named Zangetsu and a magical wizard named Alfred. Miriam is going to need a big power boost to survive this ordeal.
But as far as the gameplay is concerned, anyone who has played Symphony of the Night or the GBA/DS Castlevania games will know what to here. You have a open-world castle to explore, with many areas limited until you defeat bosses or find new powers. The castle is certainly smaller than Symphony of the Night, but it’s larger than it appears at first, as in the early hours of the game, it does seem to be too linear for its own good.
Unlike some Metroidvania games, Miriam can basically use any kind of weapon she likes. She can use a whip (like a Belmont), a sword (like Alucard), daggers, and even firearms. Though I’m more of a sword warrior. I was a bit disappointed the whip didn’t control like it does with the Belmonts, so I avoided those. Like Soma Cruz (Aria of Sorrow/Dawn of Sorrow) Miriam can take powers from her enemies, giving her new abilities, though I thought these powers were often useless it many ways. I only used a handful of these shard powers against bosses and foes.
Overall I really enjoyed this new adventure that’s Castlevania without Dracula, Alucard, or the Belmonts. It’s a little hard to believe it’s been about a decade since Order of Ecclesia on Nintendo DS. If it was a real “Castlevania in the Metroid fashion” I’d rank it about middle in the series. It’s not quite as good as Symphony of the Night or the Sorrow games, but it’s much better than Circle of the Moon. I spent over twenty five hours with the game, and I didn’t get all the secrets (but I did get the true ending), but I loved almost every minute of it.