A game with a sub-subtitle? Amazing.
First things first. This is not quite like the Metroidvania Castlevanias that I love so much (like Dawn of Sorrow or Symphony of the Night). It’s also not quite like the “original”, more linear Castlevanias like those on the NES and SNES. And it’s not even quite like the new “reimagined” Lords of Shadow game for the Xbox 360, despite the title and the fact it follows on from that game’s story.
It is, instead, a mashup of all three types of game. It’s pretty linear, like the originals, but it does have some map colouring and exploration (and the “new items unlock new areas” thing) from Metroidvanias. Finally, it has an approximation of the combat from the 360 game, with combos and air attacks and all sorts, plus that version’s art style.
I thought I’d hate it. I actually love it. The graphical style of the 360 title translates to beautiful 3D backdrops, but the game plays out on a 2D game – which is great as I’ve hated every 3D Castlevania I’ve ever played. The combat and levelling up system is a joy, and the game is suitably hard with seemingly impossible bosses that suddenly become walkovers once you learn their patterns and weaknesses – just like all the best Castlevanias.
Without wishing to impart spoilers, I’ve played Gabriel’s intro, then Simon’s bit, and now I’m into Alucard’s bit. Although I think I’m pretty close to the end of that.