(Old Review) Hack-and-Slash Dreams Come True
Above and beyond the standard for downloadable games lies Symphony of the Night, a PlayStation classic much more a timeless adventure than a casual title for the occasional hobbyists. Though it takes place entirely within one set of castle walls, you'd be wrong to think the game was short and linear. In fact it's far more free and open than any other game in its genre, and certainly a unique experience new to the Live Arcade library.
A combat based adventure that deviates from its predecessors, you play as Alucard, Dracula's rebellious son, as you storm into the count's domain and attempt to rid the world of your wretched bloodline. But quickly, you find that your shining armor and fiery blade have been stripped away, and you are left powerless, vulnerable, and locked within the confines of the mysterious, massive Castlevania. Working your way up to the top of the highest chamber may not sound like a cakewalk, but the real challenge lies in finding your way to get there. There are no obvious routes or directions in Castlevania, but rather hordes of enemies prepared to get between you and your monstrous father.
Legions of monsters and halls of illusions can do little stop this man's pursuit for his father's blood
Exploration is the highlight of Symphony of the Night. Throughout your journey you'll come across laboratories, galleries, clock towers, libraries, sanctuaries of Christianity, underground mines, and much more. What really delivers in Symphony of the Nights's favor is the overall design being similar to that of Super Metriod, vis a vis, backtracking. This is taken to a lighter, more approachable level in Symphony of the Night, but none the less a strong selling point. Think of it as similar to Super Mario 64. It truly is remarkable how well Castlevania rewards you for exploration.
The world map grows as you explore for hours on end, and eventually stretches across the screen. There seems to always be new areas that are waiting to be discovered. Walking across the entire castle would be a bore, but thankfully Konami have generously added shortcuts and teleporters, both unlocked throughout the game, as well as a map tool that shows you areas you've yet to cartography.
Not to be outdone by the world size are the weapons and relics lists, that extend to great levels. There are numerous weapons and item to collect, and over 20 helpful relics that aid in your travels. You'll also gain access to familiars, or partners to help you in combat or other tasks, creature-morphing abilities, and spells to smite your foes. These can all be collected and executed at your own pace.
This is one of the rarest occasions where graphics has its ass handed to it by the music. Both elements remain almost untouched, with a slight filtering gloss added to desperately improve the graphical quality of the game. Unfortunately, the graphics looked lackluster 10 years ago, and ancient by today's standards. Luckily, the art keeps the ship afloat, providing massive yet articulate areas all around the castle. There are hundreds of rooms to explore, and many are completely different in appearance. The enemies are also well crafted, being both eerie and beautiful at the same time.