Castlevania: Requiem Review – Great, Just the Way It Is

    Title: Castlevania: Requiem
    Developer: Konami
    Release Date: October 26, 2018
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: Konami
    Genre: Metroidvania

While it’s hard to believe sometimes that both Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are well over 20 years old now. They still both hold up and Konami has graciously paired the two up in their latest collection, Castlevania: Requiem.

Although, it’s not unheard of for a publisher to release a collection of older games in this generation it’s great to see them focusing on not only one of the best in the series, but also one that was released in the west under a different title. With that said, nostalgia for a series can only carry it so far and for that, I was glad to play Rondo of Blood of the first time and also replay Symphony of the Night to see how they’ve held up over the years.

I started off my journey with Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, a title that originally only released in Japan. It was later remade and released on the Super Nintendo as Castlevania Dracula X. While I had never played either game, as they both contained significant differences from one another even though they were both based on the story of Richter Belmont, I was happy that I got to try out the original product for the first time.

For newcomers like me, Rondo of Blood will kick you, stomp your face into the ground, and expect you to play certain areas over and over and over… until you eventually come out on top, and you will. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is the first game in a while that has made me question my own skill at video games. After I found myself at a wall in the game, I began wondering if I could really complete this title, knowing I wasn’t even close to the end.

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That’s where Rondo of Blood got its hooks in me. I didn’t want to give up, I wanted to keep going, and eventually, I did beat the game. The biggest tip I can give to new fans of Castlevania is to utilize everything. Rondo of Blood is like an obstacle course, and you’ll never perfect it on your first try. It comes off as a relatively simplistic game, but I was eventually trying to utilize everything and anything at my disposal to complete it.

I took notes, okay there’s a chicken there, I can grab this item from this candle, enemies are going to come at me from here. Everything is placed in the game for a reason, and the sooner you learn its ins and outs the sooner you’ll complete it. For a game that came out more than 20 years ago, the way everything is defined is really amazing. In retrospect, had I known what I know now, I could probably complete Rondo of Blood in about four or five hours. It took me closer to eight or 10 on my first run through.

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The entire experience really boils down to that classic gamer saying, just one more try. Because Castlevania: Rondo of Blood is incredibly fun, on top of its challenge, I often never wanted to stop. Of course, there were occasionally times I wanted to rip my hair out… but let’s not talk about those. From the combat, soundtrack, and environments, everything just clicks together so well in Rondo of Blood and it’s really one of the best games in the series.

Symphony of the Night, on the other hand, is an entirely different experience from Rondo of Blood. It comes across as forgiving compared to previous games but offers more challenge in its puzzle solving and exploration. After all, Symphony of the Night is the game that helped birth the Metroidvania genre. That’s not to say Symphony of the Night isn’t hard, it is. But it’s almost like Castlevania comfort food compared to Rondo of Blood.

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While Rondo of Blood is more conventional, Symphony of the Night offers players tons of mechanics that would be fully realized for the first time in a Castlevania game. There’s a loot system, RPG mechanics, a setting that’s a puzzle to be solved. For both games, a lot of brain power is required, but it’s for entirely different reasons in many cases in Symphony of the Night.

Interestingly enough, both games included in this collection are chronological as Konami began taking a more connected storytelling approach to Castlevania. I think this helped the series really define itself as what it’s known as today. The Belmont family’s long history of taking down Dracula felt so much more personal now that cutscenes, voice acting, and more intricate character designs were included. You play as Alucard, the son of Dracula, five years after Richter Belmont took down Dracula in Rondo of Blood. The first few minutes of Symphony have you play as Richter but it isn’t before long you’re in the shoes of Alucard.

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On that note, Longtime fans might be disappointed to hear that Symphony of the Night contains the newer voice acting as opposed to the classic PS1 voices that have become famous for their corny dialog. Additionally, Konami hasn’t really included any neat extras in this collection, it’s only the two games.

Bottom line, they’re both perfect fun, and the lack of any additional content didn’t really bother me personally, but it may bother some fans who expect more from this retro collections. Castlevania: Requiem is a great port of two absolute classics. Just don’t expect anything more than that.

Author: Jordan Boyd

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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