At long last, Castlevania Requiem has arrived, bringing Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood to the PlayStation 4. However, if you expected this package to represent Konami at its finest, then prepare for a rude awakening — it’s about as uninspired as they come.
The good news? It’s still Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood.
Castlevania Requiem uses Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles, a remake of Rondo of Blood, along with the original version and Symphony of the Night as extras, which released on the PSP in 2007 as a base. Those were good ports, and they’re still good now — the packaged games are both responsive and run smoothly.
The problem? Konami’s decision to use The Dracula X Chronicles as a base, rather than the original PlayStation version, means that the cheesy dialogue and voice overs in Symphony of the Night are gone. In other words, gems such as Dracula’s infamous “What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets!” during the SOTN’s opening sequence is now a thing of the past, as are some of the more amusing voices, such as the Master Librarian when you buy items from him.
My issue here is that the changed dialogue and voice-overs don’t do anything for the overall package. The quality of the voice acting isn’t all that much better, and the experience isn’t improved in the slightest. On the contrary, it actually mars it. There’s a loss of charm, and certain conversations, particularly those with Maria, are even disconcerting at times. It just feels…off.
Granted, this isn’t that big of a deal. Again, the port in of itself is solid, with the gameplay being exactly the same as a long-time fan would remember. The winding, monster-infested halls are the same as ever, and there are weapons and power-ups aplenty. Despite being over 20 years old now, SotN is just as fun as it was all those years ago — even with its disappointing second half. Really, there is a reason why it helped coined the term “Metroidvania.”
And this is equally true for Rondo of Blood, Symphony of the Night’s storyline and release predecessor, released on the PC Engine CD system in 1993. It was exclusive in Japan until The Dracula X Chronicles came around over a decade later (unless you got ROMs), so being able to play it in its original form in Castlevania Requiem is a welcome opportunity. It plays very much like the original Castlevania, representing the franchise’s linear gameplay at its finest and prettiest.
Unfortunately, this is about all Castlevania Requiem offers: the gameplay is there, but that’s about it.
You can mess around with display effects, including scanlines and interlacing, but they’re unneeded and the latter creates a flickering effect which actually makes playing more difficult somehow. There’s also an option to turn on sprite smoothing, but all it does is make the pixels look blurry. Lastly, there are new sound effects, like item pickups and select voices, delivered through the DualShock 4, and unlike the display effects, these can’t be turned off (I liked them, at least).
That’s it. The usual stuff that one would expect from these types of collections aren’t here. Bonus art galleries? Nope. Music Libraries? You wish. Developer Interviews or Insights? In your dreams. All we got were the games and obligatory trophies.
And to be fair, we probably should have expected as much. Konami never said we would be getting any of those extra features, and knowing the barebones game collections it typically releases, it probably would have been foolish to expect otherwise.
Nevertheless, it still doesn’t make Castlevania Requiem any less of an uninspired port — especially when compared to the recent offerings from Capcom. Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood deserve better than just trophies, dubious display effects and new sound effects. These two remain some of the best games out there, so you would think Konami would pay proper homage to the products that once made it a leader in the video game industry.
At the very least, Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood still play just as well as they did in 1997 and 1993, respectively, and are an absolute steal at their current price point. If nothing else, that alone makes Castlevania Requiem worth recommending.