Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow Cover
Platforms Nintendo DS
Genre Fast-paced Metroidvania
MtAMinutes to Action 3
Keep Playing? Yes
Buy from Amazon

Few gaming series have changed as much as Castlevania.  What started off as an action platformer evolved into an exploration focused action RPG with the release of Symphony of the Night, a genre which has been dubbed “Metroidvania.”  This style for the series wouldn’t be seen again for several years until it hit the most unlikely of platforms: the Game Boy Advance.  Handheld gaming rekindled interest in the series, and since Circle of the Moon in 2001, six handheld Castlevania titles have been released.  Dawn of Sorrow is the first one for the DS, and is a direct sequel to the final GBA Castlevania game.  Since these games are rather short and focus heavily on post game content and speed runs, I’ve decided to do a half hour review.  This has nothing to do with the fact that Dragon Quest IX comes out this week and I’d rather play that than write.  Nothing at all!

 

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - The game opens up with a text scrawl saying I, Soma, was almost the reincarnation of Dracula.  Well, I’m glad I avoided that.  I talk to a redhead named Mina, who reflects on that time I almost became the embodiment of evil.

02 - Some chick with grey skin teleports next to me.  It’s broad daylight, one would think they’d like to keep the magic powers at a minimum.  She introduces herself as Cecila and greets me by summoning a skeleton.

03 - A guy named Arikado appears.  As he is about to help me, Cecila throws up a barrier, blocking him.  Is no one on the street watching this?  He throws a knife over the barrier (apparently it is too wide to walk past but not high enough where you can’t chunk stuff over it).  I kill the skeleton with a few stabs, and get some special attack. An enemy with a spinning spear attacks and after we throw down, I get another attack.  Next up is a giant rock golem, and I use my spear attack I got a millisecond ago to defeat it and level up.  In about one minute I got three new attacks and leveled up, it’s like an RPG on acid.  

Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow Soma map ice Blocks04 - She flees and Arikado explains that she is a cult leader who is trying to resurrect the dark lord.  This game takes place in the future, you’d think people would have better things to do in a few decades.  A few game days pass and I’m at the cult headquarters, which resembles a snowy Victorian era city.  A bald guy named Hammer comes up and talks to me, and after he leaves I can control Soma

05 - I practice some attacks.  The A button does a super attack that drains a lot of my MP, luckily it automatically recovers.  I check my menu and see that I have some souls attached, which are basically my special attacks.  My inventory has a few potions, you’d think I’d pack more than three to take on some crazy cult, but whatever.

06 -  I go into the next area to find monsters roaming about.  I stab a few skeletons and bats, and also come across a giant eyeball enemy that dies rather quickly.  It is just an eye, after all.

07 - I stumble across a new weapon, a short sword.  At a split path, I head down and try to go through a door, but it’s sealed via magic powers.  Across the door is a save room that also heals.  Save points should automatically heal in my humble opinion.  I take the other path, and I fight a giant wolf and a suit of armor throwing axes.  I’m surprised these monsters work together so well.

08 - The next room is filled with zombies.  The slow kind, not the 21st century ones.  Even though I only have a knife, I can somehow cut the zombies in half, awesome.  More wolves and axe-throwing armors also impede my progress.  After I kill enough zombies, I get a zombie soul attack which allows me to summon zombies.  It’s like undead Pokemon.

09 - In the new room I come across a blonde named Yoko (dye job for sure) and a rugged guy named Julius Belmont, who is probably better suited for this game than my character.  They tell me to go back, but the cult messed with my girl, and Soma doesn’t play like that ya dig?  Yoko teaches me about magic seals that I may need to use on some enemies.  I basically just draw a pattern when the image appears.  Hooray for touch controls.

10 - Backtracking time.  I kill another wolf and get a warg soul, which does pretty good damage.  I kill more monsters and head back to the save room.  I can open the sealed door now with my new magical touch screen controls.

12 - Hey a boss battle.  It’s a huge suit of flying armor with two swords.  I use my skeleton soul attack since it can attack flying enemies, although it’s not really epic to kill something by throwing bones at it.  I also jump and get a few stabs in with my sword.  His giant swords do pretty good damage, so I have to heal up once.  After enough damage has been dealt, I finish him off with a magic seal and get the flying armor soul.

Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow Soma Yoko Belnades14 - Yoko appears (thanks for the backup) and says I should go on.  I was going to do that without your permission anyways.  The new room has a sword, but it’s a bit too high.  I equip my new soul, which allows me to fall slower.  It sound stupid, but if I angle it right, I can float over great distances.  I jump over and grab my new weapon, a claymore.

16 - The next room has a lot of platforms, who builds these places?  The claymore is slow but powerful.  I find a spear in the room, and while it’s faster, I prefer the more powerful claymore.  I go in one room and find $1000, I can finally afford that college class now.

18 - After some exploring, I find Yoko hanging out in a room.  I’m not sure if this is the best place to relax, but whatever.  She criticizes Hammer and tells me I can fuse the souls I collect with my weapon, intriguing.

19 - I look at all the options, some of them I can’t do since I don’t have enough souls.  I can update my claymore with a warg soul though, so I think why not and fuse the two, which gives me a falcion.  It’s almost exactly the same as a claymore, but a bit stronger.  I was hoping it would shoot out wolves or something.

20 - Across the way is Hammer who will sell me stuff.  He should be giving me this stuff for free, I’m trying to save people here.  I buy a lot of his items, you never know when you could get a status effect.

21 - The next area has me fighting silverware that comes to life.  I bust open some lights and furniture to find health and money.  In this next area is a large spinning monster, but I kill it pretty easily and get its soul.

22 - I use my new spin attack soul, but it uses a lot of MP.  In the next room I slice and dice some zombies and run into a dead end.  This room has a cape, which I equip, and a mirror that has a changing reflection based on my movement.  I can’t bust it open or anything, so I leave the room.

23 - The zombies in the previous room have regenerated!  I slide towards them, but I accidentally bust open the floor and find some money and food.  I’m not sure if I should eat food that’s just lying around a place infested with zombies and living suits of armor.

Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow Soma Puppet Master Boss24 - I go back to the larger room and use the flying armor to exit through the top right.  I run across a woman with a broom shuffling to me, and I kill her.  Actually I think she was just a normal person, oh god I’m a murderer!  I come across another girl, but she hops on the broom and flies towards me.  Oh, I guess she’s a witch.  They’re bad, right?  I kill a zombie and his bloody corpse hides some new clothes for Soma.

25 - In the next room, I’m where I first met Yoko and Belmont, but at the bottom.  I go through the right door and enter a new place called the wizardry lab.

26 - Some green ghost demon things appear and they go down with one hit.  I climb down the vertical room and find a save point, how kind of this cult to put it here.

27 - The vertical room has a lot of paths, but I go all the way to the bottom.  The next room has a lot of skeletons, including skeleton archers that knock me back a bit.  I navigate around the room until I come to a door in the top left.

28 - Another vertical room with a lot of open doors.  I go to the bottom again and enter the left room.  A scarf and a dead end.  The scarf has more defensive capabilities than the cape, so I equip it.  Did you know that a lot of heat comes out of your neck, so scarves are one of the most vital pieces of clothing to have when it’s very cold?  Seriously, I didn’t believe it either until I tried it.  I also fight a pretty tough chimera thing and run into a giant rock golem.

29 - The rock golem hits me pretty hard, but he goes crumbles (literally).  I didn’t get his soul however, I wonder what his attack would be.  In the next vertical room I come across a skeleton archer and a suit of armor holding a bomb.  After I kill the Bomberman rip-off, I level up yet again.  I scale to the bottom and come across Cecila and two guys that look like Pokemon trainers: Dario and Dmitrii.  They want me dead, but Cecila avoids a boss battle and tells them they will have their chance later.

30 - Cecila says that if I want to battle her, she’ll be waiting at the top.  Bad guys always wait at the top.  I go through the next room looking for a save point, but I don’t find one.  Time to backtrack to pick up anything I missed.  But in the room I just exited, a giant golem appeared.  I take him down after a few hits and move on.  I come across a giant Frankenstein, who is actually pretty tough and brings me down to 5 HP.  I knew I should have bought more potions.  I kill him and heal up.  I run across another bomb guy, and this time he gets a hit in.

 

Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow Soma Cruz Mina Julius Belmont Alucard Yoko artOn a scale from Dracula to Edward from Twilight

Dracula

This game is very fast paced, and in 30 minutes I leveled up several times, found new weapons and armors, plus I learned some pretty useful spells.  This game can be overwhelming at times, but there’s a lot of content here already.

Count Chocula

It’s rather story-driven so far.  One of the worst things about the Metroidvania series is that it’s easy to get lost and they often throw you in places for no reason.  So far I haven’t really felt lost or confused about where I am and what I should be doing, but something tells me it’s creeping up.  Plus I need more save rooms!

Edward

Remember the awesome gothic art style in the previous Castlevania games?  Well it’s not here, instead we have generic anime designs.  Soma looks like he’s more suited to be the mysterious love interest in a girly anime instead of a demon killer. 

Would I keep playing? It’s hard to believe only 30 minutes has passed, I feel like I accomplished so much.  There are many monsters whose souls I didn’t collect yet, and I can’t wait to see what kind of skills and weapons I get.  I am definitely hooked, until I inevitably get lost.

Comments

Order of Ecclesia

...is my favorite of the DS games. Incidentally, Aria of Sorrow is my favorite of the GBA games.

Also, the 3D PS2 Castlevanias borrow elements from the 'Metroidvania' games. The second one was a lot better than the first, though. (can't remember the names even though I played them both twice)

Great game

Dawn of Sorrow was my first Metroidvania, and I've played all of them since then. They're all great. I also never realized just how quickly they get going, you've already done a lot of stuff. The games could really use is a save point radar or something, though, because save points are really easy to skip sometimes.

Best. Grading System. Ever.

I think Greg should adopt it for the entire site.

They've made six since Circle

They've made six since Circle of the Moon? Wow. That's one of the few GBA games I have. And yeah that art style is definitely generic :(

I also support Count Chocola grading.

The six GBA/DS Castlevania games

Circle of the Moon
Harmony of Dissonance
Aria of Sorrow
Dawn of Sorrow
Portrait of Ruin
Order of Ecclesia

I think I might actually have

I think I might actually have Harmony of Dissonance too. Probably played Circle and didn't get to Harmony.

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