Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

Some may claim Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow is excessively similar to Aria of Sorrow, and that is quite fair. In fact, the only truly new idea that Konami produces for this installment – the Magic Seals – ends up being nothing but a considerable design blunder. Yet, the base upon which the game is built is just too strong to crack. A gauntlet of monsters and labyrinthine halls, Dracula’s Castle remains a joy to be explored, and each of its areas plays like a challenging series of combats and navigation challenges. Moreover, the fact the protagonist can permanently acquire the powers of the foes he defeats leads his moveset to be incredibly customizable, adding a strategic degree to both regular combats and boss battles that makes the saga’s traditionally cool encounters against wicked creatures even more alluring. And with these weapons in place, Dawn of Sorrow could never have really failed. Because, yes, it may be a mere continuation of what was achieved in Aria of Sorrow, but that does not mean the greatness in design that tends to permeate the Castlevania series is absent.

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