Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Alucard finally meets his Dad eye to eye in Konami's premier Metroidvania

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date published: 9.19.23
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Vampires have never been my thing. I dressed up as a vampire one year for halloween, but not by choice. The whole blood-sucking thing doesn’t do it for me and that traditional vampire look with the cape and slicked back hair just seems so.. Lame. Anyways, I ended up setting my personal feelings about vampires aside, because for round 5 of Game Club, we picked a game that is renown for its gameplay, art, music, and sexy vampires. The game we played was called

Please excuse the amount of ‘vania’ in the following paragraph.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (SotN) is THE Castlevania game that put the ‘vania’ in metroidvania. Other Castlevania games have been very vania-y, but still nothing feels quite as vania enough as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Metroidvania being the name of a genre of video games stemming from the games ‘Metroid’ and ‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’. The genre usually includes games that are 2D side scrollers that have you exploring and uncovering a map, gaining powers, and backtracking through the map to reach new areas by using those powers. The metroidvania genre includes games like Hollow Knight, Axiom Verge, and Carrion. It has become a very popular genre for indie developers to work on, because of the low barrier to entry and high sales.

In Symphony of the Night, you play as Alucard - the son of Count Dracula. He arrives at Dracula’s castle fully armed with weapons and spells and with the intention of destroying his father’s castle. Within a few minutes of arriving at the castle gates, Alucard meets Death himself and is robbed of all his equipment and power (Damn!). Now, you have to progress through Dracula’s castle starting at just level 1 and with no weapons. Along the way, Alucard meets some new friends, regains his powers, and steals some equipment from his Dad’s castle.

Save Animation

The gameplay loop of a game like Symphony of the Night is extremely addicting. It makes these sorts of games very difficult to put down. In SotN, you explore a stretch of the castle, fight a boss, get a new ability, and find a new area to explore. Every time you check your map of the castle, you can probably see multiple new directions you haven’t explored yet and the game is really good about rewarding you for exploring. Nothing you acquire in the castle ever really feels useless. Moving around the castle as Alucard also feels really good. Movement is snappy and responsive and so are attacks. Each different style of weapon has a different speed and range of attack. Alucard can swing daggers very fast, but the reach is really short and they are usually weaker than swords or other weapons. Using a two handed sword will give Alucard much longer reach, but the damage and range usually did not make up for the slow attack speed in my opinion. All of this combines to make for a world that consistently leaves the player curious about what could be behind the next door and also makes it just fun for the player to explore and engage in combat.

The thing that SotN got right was just about everything. Konami (Castlevania’s developer) took the concept of Metroid and added stats and equipment to it. In previous Castlevania games, if you couldn’t get past a boss, all you could do was get better at the game. Now in SotN, if you are having trouble on a boss fight or in a particular room of the castle, you can spend some time leveling Alucard up so you can have an easier time. The game still requires skill and rewards a player for being skilled, but gives less experienced players an option as well.

Alucard at a fountain

Absolutely amazing game. I have always known about Symphony of the Night and I had played the first hour or so probably 10 times at this point, but I never stuck with the game until now and I can’t believe how much it has blown me away. The only thing that really disappointed me was something that has always been hyped up about the game. I have heard countless times that the game has more than one ending and if you complete certain objectives, you unlock the ‘upside down castle’. The upside down castle is a mirror version of Dracula’s castle where the whole castle is flipped on its head. It can be unlocked right at the end of the game and it has all new boss fights, equipment, and powers to be found. This by itself is really awesome and something you don’t really see much in AAA game development today. That said, actually exploring the upside down castle is not as fun as it sounds, because the castle was designed to be explored right-side up. This makes it very difficult to get around in the upside down version and not really that fun. I also found the difficulty curve to be a little too steep in the upside down castle, but in some ways it can be seen as a bonus area, so I suppose that is fine.

Concept Art

All in all, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a game I would highly recommend to anyone interested in knowing why the genre is called ‘Metroidvania’. I would also say this game made me like vampires a little more as a whole. Alucard and Dracula give a little fresher take on vampires (1997) and honestly, I am here for it.

Sleeping Alucard


"Don't use the demon minion"

"Episode 1 of Alucard's Oedipus Complex"

"Soundtrack obliterated me"

"Best side-scroller ever made"

"Sprites against 3D backgrounds are awesome"

"Alucard is sexy as hell"