This is one of the best adventures the DS has to offer.
Castlevania is a series that's home of many classics from the past, its unique style has led to a legion of fans. In the handheld world, Castlevania shows itself in its purest form. This game is a hybrid of 2D platforming, action, suspense, horror and RPG. The platforming is not conventional, most games have a finite way of seeing 2D platforming, as of starting in the far left and enduring the level to reach the far right. Castlevania has a whole world in 2D side-scrolling, certainly this is not a full world it's just the confines in which the game is held, which by the way is a castle--with some outdoor areas within the surroundings complementing the adventure's location. If you look at the filled map you'll easily see the branching rooms each connecting to one another through doors, ceilings and floors. Inside these rooms are enemies of all kinds and shapes, all very horror-like, some of the most grotesque looking enemies are found in Castlevania. The dark atmosphere also sets this apart from the rest, it's intensely haunting from start to finish, exactly what you'd expect from a guy venturing through the confines of a replica of Dracula's Castle.
Graphically the game does a pretty good job, the rooms are all very detailed with darker and more opaque colors prevailing most of the time, never quite losing a somewhat anime-styled artistic vein. The graphical department is satisfactory, and overall nicely made, but what actually shines here is the music, both the sound effects as well as the background music received special treatment. Some of the most memorable music tracks you'll listen while playing this game, the examples are many, I could say that each and every music in the game is good, of course some are better than others, but at least about what's coming out of the speakers right into you ears is not something I expect anyone complaining, even if the person disliked everything else about Dawn of Sorrow.
The game has special gameplay elements of its own, like you can proceed though the game and collect items, some of them you'll be able to equip, among the items you'll have at disposal to equip are swords, axes, armors and accessories to enhance your battle performance. You can also find Souls throughout the game, they fall into three categories: the ones you'll use as a secondary weapon, generally for attacking or summoning creatures to help you out; there's also the second type of souls which will give you some enhanced ability while pressing the "R" button, they range from abilities to reduce the speed of falling to use forging pacts with the devil to boost your stats; the last soul types are enchanting ones, which basically boosts some attribute. Also, you have what's called Abilities, which you are able to turn on or off and help you during the adventure. To finish, there's also the Magic Seals, which are seals that are also scattered around the castle and they serve to seal the bosses you encounter, after defeating a boss you are asked to perform the seal with your touch screen, if somehow you fail, the boss will rise from the dead and you'll have to fight him again. Thankfully the seals are simple, and should you be paying attention to what's happening you're not likely to miss it.
The story is pretty straight-forward, and though it's a sequel to Aria of Sorrow, you'll do fine without playing that game, it all starts when Soma Cruz, a white-haired high school student, encounters a mysterious woman called Celia Fortner and in a turn of events must face a quest of his own, prevent Dracula from resurrecting. You collect money from breaking stuff and killing enemies inside the castle, with that you can buy stuff in a shop. There's also many collectibles for those willing to extend gameplay, like a percentage of how much of the castle was explored, and rarer Souls to collect. Dawn of Sorrow features as well a large amount of extras, new modes, secret stuff found in the adventure, different endings, lots of good stuff to keep you playing long after you're done with the main story. There's even a wireless mode to exchange Souls and battle a friend.
Dawn of Sorrow is a well-polished game, this is one of the great games from this series, if you've never played a Castlevania game before it's never too late to start, and this will serve you right for that. Veterans won't find anything to dislike about it as well. Great graphics, absolutely amazing sound, a fitting story, engrossing game mechanics, the use of the touch screen is minimal but that should only scare you away if you're positively looking for a touch screen-based game, if you don't care, you can be sure top find one of the best game the Nintendo DS has to offer. This is a game well worth to carry the name of such a great franchise such as Castlevania.