Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood (PS4) Review

Castlevania Requiem was brought here by humans who wished to pay the series tribute. Tribute, by stealing men’s souls and making them fans. Perhaps the same could be said of all game series’? Mankind needs a Castlevania on The PlayStation 4 such as Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood. What is Castlevania Requiem!? A two-game release by Konami with a pile of secrets. But enough parody of the intro! Have at this review!
Castlevania Requiem 1
The first game I played, in this retro double pack,  was Castlevania Requiem: Rondo of Blood. The original was released in the early 90’s and was exclusive to Japan. Later, it was ported to other systems, with hardcore fans of the series having their pick of which version they thought was the best. For the fans of the PSP edition, they are in luck, as that’s the edition which has been remastered. In Castlevania Requiem: Rondo of Blood, you play as the vampire slayer, Richter Belmont, who is on a quest to save his loved one, Annette. The game is 9 levels long with 4 different routes that can be taken, each one affecting which monsters and bosses you encounter.

It plays similar to other Castlevania games in that you are moving across the screen, in a linear fashion, clearing out enemies and getting to the stage’s end boss. Richter uses a whip and sub-weapons to defeat classic monsters like zombies, wolves, and of course, vampires. The stages look brilliant in this collection and I found myself enjoying even more than I did on the PSP. Though the game may be quite short, don’t think it’ll be an easy ride! Every level is a test of your wit and skill and with progression, becomes harder to complete. I died a lot.

Though I enjoyed the game as much as I did before, I had wished that there was more to it than just a graphical update to the stages and soundtrack. One thing that is different, which I wasn’t fond of, is that they have sounds coming through the controller speaker. It sounds too high pitched and annoying, especially with obtaining hearts. Speaking of the controller, it felt like there was a bit of lag between pushing a button and what happens on the screen sometimes. Sure, it felt like the classic game, but it’s a bit dated and I feel the controls should have been tweaked a little for the remaster. Some other adjustments that would have been nice would have been difficulty adjustments, new levels, or new characters. Perhaps even a gallery with videos and images of the game’s history?
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Then I moved on to the powerhouse of the Castlevania franchise, Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night. Since it’s release in the late 90’s, Symphony has been on several lists in regards to favourite PlayStation games or top overall gaming lists. Rightfully so, as it took the series in a different direction and made a formula which would be imitated by other games for years to come. Symphony of the Night always remained as the best of them all though. It’s also made appearances on multiple platforms, similar to Rondo of Blood.

Symphony of the Night was the reason I was most excited to play Castlevania Requiem. I was excited to see Richter again, climbing the stairs to face Dracula for one of the most popular phrases in gaming since the late 90’s but was disappointed to see and hear that this too was the PSP port. Gone is the famous dialogue exchange between Richter and Dracula. I pressed on, though a bit heartbroken that the classic moment was gone.

Castlevania Requiem 3

The main game of Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night has you playing as Alucard, Dracula’s son, who has come to destroy his father’s castle. Upon entering, Death appears and strips him of all his gear, leaving you to explore the castle, obtain equipment to battle monsters, and find Dracula.

The Castlevania series took a whole new approach by removing the linear gameplay and opting to have an open castle to explore instead. Jumping on platforms and running through each of the rooms reveals more of the map so that the player can track areas which are yet to be explored. While progressing, there are rooms with save points that heal the player fully and creates a save up to that point. Graphically, each area of the castle shows different interiors and settings, so it doesn’t feel like one giant room. This is where the term ‘Metroidvania’ came from as these are the mechanics, along with the elements below, which a game must imitate in some form to fall under this newly created genre.

This also introduced RPG elements to the series as Alucard can equip different weapons and armour in order to boost his stats and he can also level up to increase his hit points. To help you out, areas can be grinded by leaving and re-entering rooms to kill specific enemies in hopes of good loot drops or experience points. Further progression and exploration will lead to obtaining additional skills that will help out with exploring the castle. To keep players more intrigued, there are various endings based on how much of the castle you have explored and uncovered.

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Richter and Dracula’s dialogue at the beginning was a surprise to me with it not being the famous PS1 version. When the story progressed a few moments later, I was once again disappointed when I saw the very ugly video of Dracula’s castle that looked like it was a stretched PSP video to fit a HDTV – a similar issue I had with Zone of the Enders: The second Runner which I reviewed a few weeks back. Then I saw the character portraits in the game and they are also bad, represented as a blurry mess. So, the level environments look fine, but everything else didn’t seem to get a touch up at all.

While I would brush these off as a few cosmetic issues, there are also a few awkward audio hiccups and, once again, lag with the controller. With it being a remaster of such a highly praised game, I had hoped there would be a strong attention to detail being put into effect as there were so many people eagerly awaiting this release. It reminded me of Rob’s review of Shenmue which failed to impress him as well.

All these tech issues aside, there isn’t really anything new for old fans to check out, it’s just another 1:1 port (but with the PSP voices).

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood will have some appeal with nostalgic fans wanting to replay the game on the PlayStation 4. The lack of new features may disappoint them though. Those who are new to Castlevania, or with little interest in the series, won’t gain the disappointment I felt in regards to the voices – yet they also may not thoroughly enjoy the old-school mechanics when there are much better modern games out there which look and play much better. It’s still a decent addition to the PS4 library but will leave old fans wishing that more love and attention was put into the remaster.

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood

£15.99
7.5

Final Score

7.5/10

The Good:

  • Exploring the castle looks great
  • Musical score is perfect
  • Trophy support

The Bad:

  • Laggy controls
  • Cutscenes haven’t been touched up
  • Other than visual adjustments, no additional features
  • Fans of PS1 version of Symphony of the Night may not like the PSP voice acting and dialogue differences
  • Single Platinum for two games

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