Get your whip and your sword, because Dracula is alive once again! Time to see in this Castlevania Requiem review if it’s worth slaying the Prince of Darkness.
Castlevania. Castle-freaking-vania. Let’s get this out of the way right now: I love Castlevania. And not because I’ve been playing this franchise since I was a young Belmont (which I wasn’t, because my first titles were Order of Ecclesia and Portrait of Ruin and that was 6 or 7 years ago), but due to the fact that I just can’t stop talking about Castlevania. The mixture of folklore and myths from all over the world, the amazing enemy design, the challenging yet really fun gameplay,… All of that and plenty of other things makes me say that I’m in love with this franchise. And of course, two of my favourite titles are none other than Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night. So, without any more rambling and ‘fanboyism’, let’s see in this Castlevania Requiem review if it’s worth the price.
From Bloody Tears…
Needless to say that I was excited when Konami said they were going to release these two titles together on the PS4. But that excitement faded away when I saw these were just ports from the PSP title Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles. This game was a 2.5D remake of Rondo of Blood, and it featured some new boss battles (Dracula’s Final Form can die in a fire) as well as an interesting feature: you can unlock the original Rondo of Blood free of charge! No DLC crap or something similar. You discover it, you can play it, plain and simple. Same thing applies to SotN, so that’s basically three games for the price of one.
Of course, not everything was great: the SotN version was considered worse than the original PSX one due to the new voice acting and some issues like the game freezing in certain areas. Regardless of that, it was still SotN on a portable system, so it was something unique and fun to have around. And you were also able to play as Maria Renard once you finished the game, so that’s fun if you enjoy hitting zombies and knights with doves.
…To just Tears
“Okay that’s cool and all but why are you talking so much about the PSP version?” you may be wondering. Well, that’s because Castlevania Requiem it’s an almost exact port of Dracula X Chronicles. I’ll say it again: not a remake or a remastered version, but a port. Same sounds, same gameplay, same everything. Well, actually as you saw there, I said almost, and that’s because you don’t have the 2.5D version of Rondo of Blood. Quite a bummer if you ask me.
In terms of “new” things, we have 6 background wallpapers (one of them is black…) and some graphics options. We can play on Normal size or Full size (the latter fitting vertically only with your screen), turn Smoothering on or off, put a really ugly Scanline filter on the screen and use Interlace. I’m going to be honest: all these options are just awful. The Scanline filter looks too fake, and the Smoothering makes the gorgeous sprites look odd. But the worst option is Interlace. Do not. Turn. Interlace. On. It may be great for raves and nightclub parties, but this option makes the screen flicker so much it hurts a lot if you are playing for more than 5 minutes. And speaking about playing: how good are the games? Well, let’s start with the first one.
Rondo of Blood: the last of the Classicvanias
Rondo of Blood was a title that wasn’t released outside of Japan and Castlevania fans were angry for that. This title for the TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx-CD gave us the ability to control Richter Belmont, a demon hunter so badass he can jump while going up and downstairs and do sick backflips. But if you think stiff jumps and whips are something too boring for you, fear not! If you unlock Maria you can play as her, and she kicks even more ass than Richter.
Tiny details behind the action like glooming red eyes on the background or watching in the distance the boss of that stage lurking around until it arrives to be obliterated by our mighty whip/flying doves are something that will make you smile for sure. Short, fun and very fun to replay thanks to alternative stages that can be replayed anytime we want once we reach them. If your thing is classic Castlevania, look no further: Rondo of Blood is a fantastic entry to the franchise.
Symphony of the Night: the first of the Igavanias
This game. This freaking game. Pardon my French but holy sweet mother of Alucard this game’s good. And I’m not saying “oh it’s perfect and it doesn’t have any low points”, which it has. But again, I don’t have any nostalgic feelings towards this title as I played it around 4 years ago, so I’m confident by saying that SotN is a title that is so filled with tiny details, so full of fun gameplay and with a protagonist so versatile that only Shanoa and Soma are able to ALMOST reach him in terms of actions and movements, that it will blow your mind.
Say something. Seriously, just say something that you can do, see or hear in any 2D metroidvania nowadays and I’ll assure you that SotN does it better. A map with tons of different areas connected between each other in order to make exploring it fun and rewarding? It’s here. Spells and abilities that allows the player to choose their favourite game style? Bet your fangs it’s here. Turn into different creatures that also have their own abilities? From mist to bat, that’s a fact!
Now, if I have to be honest, Symphony has something that always makes me go “ugh, this is dull” which is the Inverted Castle. Don’t get me wrong: it’s pretty awesome to discover a different ending that alllows you to keep playing the game, but it’s the same map but upside down. New enemies that can obliterate you in seconds are something fun, but it doesn’t change the fact that the perfectly crafted layout of the original Castle is now something that makes you use the bat form 79% of the time. Also the game is really easy to break. A hidden elevator there, some armor here and you can completely destroy your enemies with a few punches. Not a bad thing, but easy ways to exploit a game’s challenge are something that I always like to address before recommending people this title.
What is a port? A miserable little pile of data
This last section will be aimed towards the SotN port, and if you wonder why I don’t talk about the Rondo of Blood port as well is because they are the exact same thing: good stuff. Now, why do I hate this version of SotN? Well, for two reasons: the voice acting and some gameplay and visual issues.
Let’s start with the voice acting: the original PSX version had some of the cheesiest lines if ever heard on a video game, and for that I love it so much. Lines such “What is a man?”, “Die monster, you don’t belong in this world!” or heck, even “Ah… Sarcasm” are now a bunch of the most iconic videogame lines ever said. What offers the PSP version?
Yeah, that’s just boring. Aside from that, this port is quite infamous not only for the dull voice acting, but for some issues regarding gameplay. In this PS4 version they didn’t bother to change almost anything once you start playing. You can even see that the button mapping still has L+R for the mist form without the possibility to change it! That’s just lazy. Also sound skips. Those weren’t on the PSP version, so I can’t understand why they are here on the PS4.
Farewell my son
After this rant of a fanboy, you might be wondering if you should get Castlevania Requiem. Short answer: yes, do it. Long answer: do it, as long as you don’t have a Vita. If that’s the case, The Dracula X Chronicles costs only $10 and you get 3 games for the price of one. And if you really want to see and play SotN in all of its glory, you can also get the PSX version on the Vita as well for the same price.
And now, a few words before I end this review. Castlevania is something that faded into darkness, and this is the chance to see more old titles once again on this current gen. Order of Ecclesia, Aria of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin,… Those titles cannot be bought unless you have a Wii U (and come on, that thing’s long gone), and if you hunt a physical copy of some of them you are going to have a bad time trying to find one that offers something more than the cartridge. So, if you care about Castlevania or at least you are interested in playing two of the best titles of this amazing legacy of games, this one is a must. They may not be perfect ports, but they are still fantastic titles.
- Two amazing games on the same bundle
- Great soundtrack
- Fantastic Challenge
- Only way to play Rondo of Blood on a console nowadays
- Both games are just PSP ports
- Lack of relevant options or features offering something new to both titles
- Symphony of the Night port lacks the "so bad is great" voice acting