Classic Castlevania is one of those games. You know, those games. The ones you’re told more times than you can count are an essential part of gaming history and a must-play in order to maintain credibility – Symphony of the Night more so than any other title in the series. Well, I’ll be upfront with you: I haven’t played a Castlevania game.
It’s not that I don’t want to! I’m not a provocateur; if the consensus is that something is a piece of quality work, then I’m generally inclined to like it. I’d love to beef up my resume of classic games. It’s just that there aren't enough hours in the day for me to play all of the games I want to play, particularly if the game is older and/or I’d have to commandeer my brother’s old Playstation to play it.
I only bring this up because it’s practically impossible to talk about the new Castlevania without talking about the series’ history upon which it builds its sales pitch. A mea culpa about my ignorance seems only fair, as it did with Strider.
But you know what I have played? The Batman: Arkham games, and that’s what this game reminds me of the most. There is third-person exploration and smooth combat and even a few stealth sections. To all my PC friends out there, be warned: This game does not play well with mouse and keyboard, so get ahold of a gamepad if possible. I used my 360 controller, but still, if you have the chance, play this on a console. It just feels more natural.
The combat is like God of War’s sulky, Gothic brother. Your primary attacks are melee-based, and not too difficult if you have the aforementioned gamepad. Occasionally you can grapple with enemies and take chunks out of them with your fangs while the rest just watch, I suppose. The stealth sections aren't implemented very well, and can be rather annoying.
You play as Dracula, because of course you do; though I’m given to understand that this Dracula is different from the one in the original Castlevania. The story, what there is of one, feels like something I've heard before, though I'm not sure where. The setting is pretty, though the character design doesn't do very much for me.
I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that this game might not appeal to classic Castlevania fans. I know enough about the games to know that this is definitely not a throwback. But hey, maybe this is the chance to get in on a great series for people like me who've missed out. In any case, I think it’s definitely worth a try.