Curse Of Darkness takes the 2D Castlevania formula and turns it into a reasonably good action game
Ah yes the age of 3D takes on the Castlevania formula. Not fondly remembered by most since taking the Metroidvania formula into the third dimension is hard. At least presenting it in a way that is still enjoyable to play. Yet did Konami manage to do that in this release? Let’s find out.
Dracula may have been defeated by the combined efforts of Trevor & Co yet his curse remains. Hector a formal devil forge master of Count Dracula has returned to defeat another forge master named Isaac. Who has lured him near the ruins of the old castle. Despite the obvious taunting Hector decides to pursue him throughout the land.
Upfront I was very impressed by the fact you have all the makings of a solid action game here. Takes a little while to get all the upgrades but once they are introduced you have a good amount of options in any fight. Between being able to parry attacks and canceling offensive moves with a dodge roll means you can avoid just about anything. Attacking enemies consists of using a light attack and the modifier that can change depending on how you time the button press. Even the way you attack varies depending on the weapon type. A standard sword has a wide reach while a fist weapon can pummel enemies quickly. Although honestly I just stuck with either or short sword or a short ax for the entire game. Any of the big weapons just seemed to slow to me.
Along with the standard slash attack Hector can also make use of Innocent Devils. They are companions that are summoned and can help in a few different ways. From the start he gets access to a fairy that can heal him. Simple enough but then the big iron brute is the second summon and he also comes with the power to open up paths you couldn’t go down earlier. Since it can open up heavy doors that wouldn’t be movable otherwise. Later devils have similar tricks like a glide or a time stop ability. Yet these don’t feel like a cool moment I would have after getting a new power up in the previous Castlevania games. Since they are all left out in the open.
Really the layout of the map is still a big issue here. Going down similar corridors works just fine on a 2D plain especially when the background is well done. Yet here it really just feels like going down the small corridor or similar looking round room over and over again. Obviously they try to mix it up a bit with a solid variety of enemies that show up throughout each area. Yet by the end you’ll be fighting the same guy again but now his color is different. Which was certainly true before too but it just seems more noticeable here.
I do want to point out the story they try to tell here is very cliche. Yet I did find it amusing thanks to how dumb it was. It even hypes of the final battle with Dracula which we never got to see. Which might be a good thing. Anyway Trevor Belmont shows up just to be around since his only use was his blood. But you do get to play as him in a extra mode after beating the game. While I liked the combat it wasn’t enough to make me want to play through it again but still always cool to see extra modes in a single player game.
As I search through my thoughts after watching the credits I do have to say I enjoyed playing this game. The quick pace of the action mixed with variety of devil attacks made the combat fun. It certainly isn’t amazing that everything is one similar corridor after another but I certainly felt good at backflipping everywhere. (It always seemed like the fastest way to get around.) Enemies may not pose much of a threat once you know how to deal with them yet the bosses were always a highlight after slogging through the dungeon. In the end it is a average game that has flaws and good points too. Not something I highly suggest others check out but if you want to revisit Castlevania’s early 3D era this might just be the best one. Which isn’t that high of praise after looking at what else came out before this.