Castlevania’s been a series that I’ve loved since I was a child. With Castlevania Requiem’s release, we see it combining Symphony Of The Night and Rondo Of Blood into a nice, neat package. Does Castlevania Requiem recapture some of that childhood joy, or is it a shallow husk of remaster?
What are you getting with Castlevania Requiem? Well, as I’ve literally just mentioned, you’re getting Symphony Of The Night and Rondo Of Blood, the former being one of the most revered games of the Playstation One era (and a personal favorite of mine), while the latter is a slightly unknown addition to the Castlevania timeline, having had a very limited release in the West.
So lets attack Symphony Of The Night first.
The true classic of the Castlevania series, with some (incorrect) fans claiming that Castlevania starts with Symphony Of The Night. During its initial release, it completely changed how the model for 2D Castlevania games worked. Doing away with the tried and true system of “move right through the level until you meet the boss, kill the boss then you’ve finished the level”, Castlevania Symphony Of The Night introduced a more freeform way of traversing the titular castle.
Gone are the tightly constructed levels, where enemies have specific patterns that you’re supposed to learn. Gone is the Belmont family as the main protagonist. Instead, you have a fully open (kinda, we’ll get to this) castle to explore and a returning face in the form of Alucard as your main character.
Symphony Of The Night was one of two games that spawned the genre “MetroidVania”, and I bet you can guess where the Metroid part comes from. Instead of gating your progress with a level structure, Alucard (and Samus) are instead gated by abilities that are littered around the giant map. Sometimes they’re gated by bosses, but more often than not, you’ll discover items and abilities as you explore. This style leads to an excellent sense of progression, as you’re almost always rewarded for some devious exploration tactics. Traditionalists may discover that B-lining the game will result in copious amounts of deaths and, more often than not, getting stuck behind not finding the correct items.
Surprisingly, this method of gameplay manages to hold up exceptionally well, barring a few “what the fuck am I doing?” moments. While there have been a large amount of Castlevania games in this style since Symphony Of The Night’s release, there’s still something special about experiencing where it all started. Sure, graphically Symphony Of The Night doesn’t hold up against the modern day powerhouses, but there’s a certain charm to the pixel art that’d be lost if everything was fully 3D rendered models.
To be perfectly honest, I’d recommend Castlevania Requiem based solely off a huge enjoyment of Symphony Of The Night. Sure, I’ve played it before, but getting to enjoy it again on a new console proves it still holds up. But alas, we still have another game to discuss.
And that game is Castlevania Rondo Of Blood.
Taking place directly before Symphony Of The Night, Rondo Of Blood sees the player take control of Richter Belmont in a classic Castlevania adventure. Well, to a degree. Rondo Of Blood features the branching paths of Castlevania 3 Dracula’s Curse. So while the levels are designed with the goal of Richter moving from left to right, there are opportunities for players to experience different levels based on where they manage to wander.
Rondo Of Blood is a much tighter experience than Symphony Of The Night, at least from a minute to minute perspective and it even has a badass anime intro. From a difficulty standpoint, Rondo Of Blood is hard as nails, mostly due to healing being restricted to wall chicken and the fact that almost everything hits like a truck.
What’s interesting is that the combination of the two different Castlevania styles in one product allows players to experience what could be considered the “old” and the “new” style of Castlevania. Granted we’re probably not going to see an actual new Castlevania outside of spiritual successors like Bloodstained Ritual Of The Night.
So is Castlevania Requiem worth your time? Honestly, I think it’s hard to say. Symphony Of The Night is probably one of the greatest games of all time, but it feels odd that it’s never had a new lick of paint through all the little re-releases it’s had, especially considering the fact we had this exact port on the Xbox 360.
Rondo Of Blood also sits in a strange place, as the version you get in Castlevania Requiem isn’t the same version that was put out in the Dracula X release of the game. While some fans are probably happier with this decision, newer or more casual fans are done a disservice as it’s undoubtedly easier to bring in newer people with some shinier graphics and considering it only saw a PSP release, it feels like a missed opportunity.
So is it worth it? Yes, if you’re a Castlevania fan. But you’ve probably already made the purchase based entirely on that fact. If you’re a casual observer of the long-running series, I’d argue that Castlevania Requiem is a great way to dip your toe into the series as a whole. You can experience the classic Castlevania gameplay and the newer Castlevania gameplay and choose where you sit on the fence. Either way, you’ll then have a plethora of games to go back to.
Ultimately, there could be way more content in Castlevania Requiem. The fact that there’s no little art section, music player or the updated graphics for Rondo Of Blood is a massive shame, but it doesn’t detract from the quality of the games as a whole.