Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – Review

I had a few points left to spend on the Xbox Live Arcade, but I wasn’t sure what to buy. I already bought Braid and Castle Crashers, and quite a few other titles that aren’t worth mentioning, and was looking for something new. I scanned through some “Best of XBLA” and found Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I read plenty of reviews claiming that this was the “Best Castlevania game ever”, and saw that it was at the top of almost every XBLA list. I had never played a Castlevania game, but after seeing how a lot of people had ranked this game at the top with Braid, one of my favorite games of 2008, I decided to give it a shot. After playing through Castlevania SOTN, I can safely say that it is one of the best experiences that I have ever had with a game, and it should not be missed.
SOTN is a game that you really get sucked into. Once you start playing, you will realize how immersive the game really is. First off, the map is huge. The world is very big, and each area in it has something unique to see and do. Each area has new weapons, enemies, boss fights, and character upgrades. There are a lot of secret areas hidden within certain walls, containing more items and places to explore. Each time you enter a different area, you are welcomed in by a new song. The soundtrack of this game is among the best I have ever heard. Every area has a new tune to go along with it, and each one is terrific. It’s fun to go around and check out new places on the map, because there are new enemies in each area, who all have different attacks, act differently, and drop different items. Each new enemy is a new challenge to figure out the best way to defeat it. The boss fights in SOTN are also great. Each boss fight is just as memorable as the next, and each fight takes a different strategy to win. The RPG elements of this game also add a new depth to the exploration. Each enemy or boss you kill nets you some experience, and over time, your skills will increase. This increase isn’t as big as some of the jumps between one piece of armor to the next, but the addition of leveling up as you fight is very nice. There are a wide variety of weapons and armor in the game to increase your stats. Most of them are basic RPG style improvements, (better swords increase attack power, better armor increases defensive power) but some items give you special abilities. A few examples of these are a sword that gives the chance of enemies dropping gems that can be sold for money, and a piece of armor that increases in defensive power depending on how much of the map you have explored. These small touches make finding new items an even more fun experience. The player also has access to magic abilities that can be activated by pressing specific button combos as long as you have the required amount of magic points avaliable. Some of these combos can be tricky to pull off, but when you have the option of draining a room of enemies of their health all at once, they are well worth mastering. Some of the items you find in the game are called “Relics”, and each relic gives you a special ability. Some give you the ability to turn into a different creature, like a bat or a wolf, some are character upgrades which mostly allow you to access more of the map, and some allow you to summon “Familiars” such as a fairy or a demon to heal you or help you in combat. The game also includes a teleportation system, which allows you to teleport to specific points in the game that you have previously visited, which is very nice when you find a secret area that you missed on the opposite side of the map of where you are. Saving in the game is also good, because other than being a purely mechanical aspect, reaching a save point fully restores your health and magic. After exploring each and every room in the castle, you will probably have played for about 10 hours, which is well worth the $10 I spent on it. Personally, I believe that this game is much better than most $60 retail games released today, and is a bargain at its current price.

One thought on “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – Review

  1. considering sound tracks, you must have never played The World Ends With You, It has one of the best best soundtracks in any game ever,. and it's jst for DS

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