Solidifying A Genre
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was the first game of the series to move on from a linear action-platformer to a more exploration based style of game. Similar to what we got from Super Metroid, having a lot of back tracking, making you open a new path each time you got a new ability/upgrade, becoming the genre we know now as Metroidvania(the combination of the two names).
In this game you play as Alucard, the son of Dracula. It's a direct sequel to Rondo of Blood, the first level of this game is the final boss fight of the previous game. The player controls Richter Belmont to defeat Dracula, then the game really starts. The intro is that Richter mysteriously disappeared and at the same time, Castlevania (Dracula's castle) has appeared once again, so Maria believes this two things are related. Plus, Alucard wakes up.
As Alucard, you enter the castle and start exploring, looking for answeres, and the whole game takes place inside the castle, managing to still have great environments and twists for you to discover.
My favorite thing about the game is how they implemented an RPG system to it, Alucard has equipments (sword, shield, clothes, etc..), as well as a level. You gain xp by defeating enemies, getting stronger each time. Throughout the game you'll also discover spells and transformations, making Alucard maybe the most versatile protagonist ever, in a video game. You always feel powerful without looking like you're breaking the game or anything like that. The controls are so tight, and his animations great to watch.
The game deserves all the praise it gets for being one of the greatest games ever made.