Clocked, all three endings seen. Not 100% souls but I’m not that desperate for something to play on the tube. I might move on to Julius mode next, if I haven’t bought Portrait of Ruin by Saturday, which I’m still in two minds about.
My first ever Castlevania experience has been one of the most frustrating, beautiful, rewarding, tedious and satisfying experiences I’ve had the pleasure/torture of experiencing. Let’s talk about what’s FUCKING SHIT first, shall we?
Collecting souls for new abilities. Most of the souls are shit, some of them are amazing. As a way of changing the way Soma moves around and fights I think collecting abilities from defeated enemies is a brilliant idea. What I didn’t like was the fiddly way it’s implemented in the later stages of the game, which force you to pause the game to reassign abilities mid-fight. If I can dash forwards now, let me keep that as standard. If I can fly, let me keep that as standard. Also, if a soul is required to progress any further, don’t make me grind bad guys for 20 minutes to get it. I will tolerate that in an MMO, where it’s expected and I’m prepared for it, and actually enjoy it, but in a platformer it bores me. It also flies in the face of platformer logic, and it wasn’t until I’d read it in an FAQ (a regular necessity) that I allowed myself believe that’s what I needed to do. Before that, I’d suspected it, but presumed that the game designer didn’t hate me. How could he? He’d already given me such a beautiful playground as proof of his love.
So the soul thing is quite specifically not-perfect. It’s a brilliant idea that nearly gets it, but fucks up REALLY badly just enough times to be FUCKING SHIT. Not specifically wrong also is the total lack of explaination of any of the information on show. Perhaps that stuff is basic common knowledge to regular Castlevania fans, but I really had no idea what 75 per cent of the stats meant, beyond how much damage I was doing. I get that CON is gonna increase my HP, but each monster has a page of stats for it that probably make them quite easy to deal with if you know how. I clearly didn’t.
The lack of information given to deal with the game is not really a fault as such - ten years ago I’d have had enough mental energy and motivation to have worked out most of it on my own. And let’s face it - this game was designed ten years ago. Today I need other people to do it for me, because, well, I guess I’ve got lazy. I just want to have fun. And I did! Thanks to gameFAQs. And that’s probably ok, because everyone has gameFAQs, so I’ll shut the fuck up about being rubbish.
BUT! And I need that but in caps with an exclam because I’ve just shat in Castlevania’s mouth when it doesn’t really deserve it - Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is brilliant. It’s more beautiful than any 2D game I’ve seen in living memory, it’s imaginative, well laid out, the enemies are brilliant (aesthetically and strategically) and there is scope for that thing I love the most - expression within my own personal playing style. In that, Castlevania triumphs. Also, it is nothing like how I imagined it would be, and is easily my best gaming find in years. I should never have avoided it for so long.
So I’m in two minds about buying the next game in the series on Saturday. I definitely want it - they’ve ditched the soul-farming system - it’s just a matter of if I should play something else first. But Pokemon is so very, very close, and it already took me a month to finish this Castlevania.