Video Game Review: “Castlevania: Curse of Darkness”

    While Castlevania: Lament of Innocence failed to live up to the expectations that I had set for it, it had a lot going for it. There were little aspects and details that I particularly enjoyed. The atmosphere, for example, and the game-play itself wasn’t bad, so a lot of me was actually excited for what I will be reviewing today. Released about a year or two after Lament, Curse of Darkness hit the scenes being released for the Xbox and PlayStation 2. While this installment in the franchise, only the second to be released on the PlayStation 2 and the first to be released on the Original Xbox, received generally positive reviews, they were slightly lower than Lament. Although, neither received critical acclaim.

    In this story, you play as Hector, who, although isn’t a member of the Belmont family, have driven himself for the sake of revenge. The video-game takes place three years after the events in Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. While Dracula was defeated by Trevor Belmont, the curse is still running rampant. Hector, a devil forgemaster, sees all of the suffering for humanity and relinquishes his powers. However, when is fiancee is accused of witchcraft and killed, he finds out that it was directed by another member in Dracula’s army named Isaac. Driven by revenge, the story follows Hector as he chases after his colleague with eyes looking for revenge.

    I’ll say from the beginning that the story feels absolutely like an improvement over its predecessor. Neither of the stories are particularly amazing. They both have certain cooker-cutter elements to them, and they feel similar, but the voice-acting is an improvement, and more importantly, the characters feel like they have a lot more going for them. I especially liked St. Germain, and the way that they had Trevor Belmont featured throughout certainly made this feel like an ambitious and inspired experience. As I have already said before, it was always a minimalistic style of story for Castlevania. What it brought to the table was riveting game-play, until, of course, Lords of Shadow, but I like it whenever I feel like the story is at least competent in its own right, which is what I feel like this is. If not, a little above average.

     Developed and published by Konami as always, Curse of Darkness brought in a lot of elements from the previous experience. For starters, small details about the graphics and scenery absolutely felt like it was cut from the same clothe. Which is something to be optimistic about, while Lament was outdated, it’s visuals were stylish and inspired. There’s a lot of other details that are more visual than with the actual game-play, but other-wise, Curse of Darkness attempted at further sophistication. There’s more complexity and depth in the controls, which feel oftentimes similar to something like Dynasty Warriors. I don’t know if I prefer them over Lament of Innocence’s but I know that by the end of it, I did.

     There are various different weapons and armors that you can use. This adds a lot more diversity to the controls. Notably, I especially liked being able to use the fast-paced rapier while I was playing, however, it’s more effective to use a larger weapon when dealing with larger bosses. It also brought in a level-system, in-which you can grow stronger as you take out enemies. I like this, because there are times when the bosses can be a little ridiculous, and just in case I can’t beat them, I like knowing that I’ll be able to gather experience and better myself, if it comes to that.

     As well as this, I saw a lot of other smaller improvements with this one as well. For starters, the camera-angles were fixed considerably. They aren’t exactly perfect, and at times, they still bothered me a little during the boss-battles, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was. It also isn’t nearly as cryptic and obscure with finding certain things on the map which I consider to be a plus. It’s fine whenever it’s actually done in a clever way, but if it’s done for the sake of it, I think it’s better to not even bother.

   The biggest change in Curse of Darkness, however, is them implementing “Innocent Devils” into it. These are basically creatures that will follow you around and help you during fights. There’s various forms of them, and each has a special power that will help you as you progress through the story. I didn’t really know what to think about them at first. I know that whenever I first saw them that I thought they would become annoying. The larger brutes would actually disrupt me when I was trying to do things on my own. They would get in the way, and it seemed more like an inconvenience than anything else. Thankfully, I warmed up to them by the end of it. They added another dimension to the game-play. With their special-abilities, they added new strategies toward beating your opponents.

     They weren’t done too perfection, but I appreciate the effort, and I think that they were a success in the long-run.

     It takes a long time for Curse of Darkness to get going. After about an hour of playing, I was actually ready to put down the controller and do something else. It wasn’t very challenging, and it felt like busy-work, more than actually playing. That’s a lot of how the last one felt, so you can understand why I wouldn’t want to be very understanding about it. At first, it seemed like a world where the enemies were added in as an after-thought. Then, after a couple of hours, I feel like it started to find its groove. It rarely achieved extreme difficulty, but it provided some challenge, especially during some of the boss-fights at the end. I liked that whenever you saved, you were allowed to registry where you would pop-up at when you used the Memorial Ticket. It was a nice touch that made navigation a lot easier.

     In conclusion, I consider for Castlevania: Curse of Darkness to be a very good game. I enjoyed it a lot more than I did the last one that I reviewed. There were moments when it probably should have become repetitive for me, but for whatever reason, it didn’t. I was actually enjoying myself. They took out a lot of the errors, no more of that pesky platforming that just didn’t work, and none of those other little nuisances. Everything was more competent and put-together, like they had a clear image of exactly what they wanted to do. I am really surprised that this one didn’t receive any notoriety, because I think it’s definitely a worthwhile play.

Thanks for reading…

Rating: – 3.3 out of 5.0