Do Not Miss Castlevania Requiem. Just Don’t.
I write a lot of blogs, and the temptation to embrace hyperbole is something I’m often fighting against. I like games, I want to tell you how neat and nifty they are, and there’s a constant tension in my work between my fanboyish enthusiasm and the need to be measured, disciplined, descriptive, and critical.
But every now and then, words like “best” and “perfect” are the most appropriate and accurate way to describe something. That is to say, there are classics, and there are classics, games that define and embody the art form.
Castlevania Requiem is two of the best video games ever made in one package. That’s a hyperbole hill I’m willing to die on. Rondo of Blood is a fine-tuned, gorgeous action-adventure. Symphony of the Night put the “vania” in “Metroidvania.”
They’re alike in many ways. Both are essays in character art design. Foes are huge, lovingly animated, colorful, and exquisitely detailed. The castle is a creature of chaos, and the sheer variety of its fey and fiendish inhabitants is awe-inspiring, with stalking knights, strutting demons, and floating, phantasmagoric skulls the size of houses, a Halloween-horror show of childhood’s gothic monstrosities rendered in ghostly luminescent pixels.
Equally enticing is the sense of atmosphere. The stages glow and flicker, each area conveying its own dread or icy melancholy perfectly tuned to the resonant energy or sadness of the accompanying music. Oh the music! Oh the beautiful, wondrous, thundering, wandering music of that bridges a continuum somewhere between video game adventure and midnight soiree in hell’s east wing ballroom.
And for all their similarity in aesthetics, they’re drastically distinct in structure. Rondo is a linear action-adventure game, albeit one that rewards exploration and experimentation with many branching paths and consequently tremendous replay potential. It’s a man and his whip against the world... or if you play as Maria, a much more powerful woman and her magical animal friends against all the might of Death. It’s about beating down big monsters, precisely timing jumps, and overcoming huge bosses, and it succeeds in making those prototypical video game tasks consistently entertaining.
Symphony of the Night’s structure is like Metroid’s... explore, discover a key or power-up that unlocks new areas, repeat, grow in power as the world gets bigger, and maybe try to pull off a sequence break if you dare. It’s a haunted, RPG-heavy approach to the genre that delves so heavily into secrets and nuances you’ll be hard-pressed to discover them all. Alucard’s basic abilities are impressive enough, but when you start fooling around with item combinations revealing special powers or learning all the fighting-game-esque magic spells, exploring the endings and hidden character stuff, it’s a lot. It’s a lot in the best way possible.
The things that you do and find, the beasts that you battle, and secrets you uncover, have a kind of obscene gravity. That’s not really hyperbole or metaphor... gravity’s a huge part of this game, especially the back half). The castle is practically a thematic tarot of distinct areas, from fighting pit to haunted chapel to foggy battlements, and each fits the unfolding sense of the immense, perverse quality of the evil heart beating at the center of it all. It’s not really a game you get tired of. Turns out that for the stout of heart, inverted madcap floating devil museums full of satanic goblins are places worth coming back to again and again.
Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night represent two cocktails where all the ingredients and proportions come together into art and entertainment exceeding the sum of their parts. It’s really rare for a game to get pretty much everything right. In this pack, you get two of them.
Castlevania Requiem is ready to pre-order at Limited Run Games now through February 27. It’s available for PS4 in a standard edition, Classic Edition, and the absolutely bodacious Ultimate Edition. I mean look at this thing.
So, yeah, play Requiem. It’s just too good not to. And here’s one for free: if this is your first playthrough, in Symphony, do yourself a favor and find the Holy Glasses.
Limited Run Games:
is a subsidiary of “Freemode”, an operative group comprised of gaming and entertainment companies owned by Embracer. Limited Run Games is the industry leader in the production and distribution of premium physical video games. Limited Run seeks to celebrate the legacy of gaming through its award-winning collector’s editions. Founded in 2015, they have published over 1,000 physical games, exclusive merch, and collectables. Limited Run is the gold standard in bringing digital games to physical form and now re-releasing retro titles on modern platforms via their proprietary Carbon Engine. Visit limitedrungames.com for the latest offerings and to learn more about Carbon Engine development. Follow the brand on your social media platform of choice for all LRG-related updates:@limitedrungames.