Castlevania is, quite arguably, one of the most loved franchises ever. Making its debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the game immediately became a mass seller, and stunned all gamers and critics with its deep, exciting gameplay, and a thrilling and interesting story. From then on, the series became bigger and bigger, becoming more popular amongst the masses. With each new instalment, the series’ prestige and quality grew. Games like Symphony of the Night and Castlevania: Bloodlines are still considered to be some of the best action adventure title till date.
As the 3D generation came, though, the beginning of the degeneration of the Castlevania series was marked. Castlevania (N64), while a decent enough game, lacked the spark that made the Castlevania series so good. Castlevania, unlike other classic franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, couldn’t do a perfect transition to 3D.
Later 3D games like Castlevania Chronicles, and the horrendous PSP Castlevania titles only made it worse. Though it still got several good instalments on the GBA and the DS, the series could never retain its former glory.
And now, Konami’s having another shot at a 3D Castlevania, and this time, things seem more optimistic for the series. Why, though? What is going to be so different then? How can the same series, the same formula have changed so drastically? I have two words for you: Hideo Kojima. The man behind classics like Metal Gear Solid 4 and the recently released Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the one who’s helping the team behind the latest Castlevania game, and hopefully, Kojima’s Midas’ Touch will turn this classic franchise into gold.
Blood, Gore, Violence… What More Do You Want?
People have been comparing this game to God of War the most, and it is pretty clear why. The gameplay videos so far shows some spectacular, bloody action sequences, with all sorts of violent combos and up-close one-on-one battles with beasts and creatures of unimaginable power. The protagonist, using a chain-like whip sword (The Combat Cross), slashes his way through hordes of hellish minions of an unseen foe, and a giant, bear-like creature, which triggers a typical cutscene. From what we can see in the gameplay videos, the game looks freaking awesome.
Not only will we get the typical Castlevania thrill and excitement while playing the game, we will also be subject to one of the best gameplay engines ever seen in any action-adventure game, with thrilling, relentless combat, mind-numbing puzzles and exciting platforming. What will make the combat ever deeper and the platforming and puzzles more complex is the whip that the players will use as their primary weapons. Not only can The Combat Cross be used to slice enemies into two, it can also be used to scale walls, sling ourselves across chasms and gaps, and for other platforming/puzzle purposes. We can also expect the game to feature the typical Konami boss battles- huge, mind-numbing, epic, large scale and fully interactive, akin to those in the much acclaimed PS2 title, Shadow of the Colossus.
Being a re-boot, though, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow’s story is not going to be a part of the canon Castlevania plotline.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is set in a fantasy world that has gone haywire, with devilish entities known as the Lords of Shadow, threatening the existence of the Earth and the Heavens, resulting in the apocalyptic “end of days” drawing nearer. A dark spell prevents the souls of the deceased to leave Earth, and evil creatures roam the land freely.
The game has the protagonist- Gabriel Belmont, member of the “Brotherhood of Light”, an elite group of knights of protect innocent people from beasts and monsters- searching for the three Lords of Shadow, to collect three pieces of a mask known as the God Mask, so that he can bring back the dead, and kill off his foes once and for all. With betrayal, love, revenge, anger and hatred, all stuffed into a single action packed story, coupled with the mind blowing, gory gameplay, we can expect Castlevania: Lords of Shadow to be one of the most compelling and immersing games ever.
But Is It Just A Rip-Off?
The game has a lot of similarities to Sony’s massive franchise, God of War. Not only are the enemy models, the presentation style, the music composition and the story theme very similar, the main weapon that is used by both the characters are very similar as well- chained swords/whips are very hard to differentiate from each other.
Even the boss battles seem very similar- giant bosses have often been the thing of God of War, and Gaia, Chronos and Ares best exemplify that. Even the magical spells look identical to each other. I don’t fear the game will not be good, just because it might be a God of War rip-off. I fear it will loose its identity, and be lost in the crowd, just as so many action adventure titles have.
But due to Kojima’s help, the game is starting to show a lot of differences. For one, the main protagonist isn’t a badass character who kills everything he sees. Then, the platforming and puzzles seem deeper this time, and the combat looks… it looks awesome (though, it looked awesome in God of War as well).
I’m pretty sure this game will have its own identity, and will be one of those games that set the standards for other games to come, and will always be remembered in the history of gaming as time goes on.